Lean business: how can we make operations more efficient?

Responsive, agile and lean are three words often attributed to successful and growing organisations. These ingredients ensure organisations stay competitive, innovative and grow at speed.

The idea of ‘lean’ may have started life in the manufacturing sector; however more and more sectors are incorporating and building lean principles into their operations. Staying lean means to have everything you need and nothing you don’t – stripping out inefficiencies and processes that might be slowing the organisation down and keeping it from being responsive and agile. Not to mention impacting on profitability and productivity.

When we consider this, it’s little wonder why across every boardroom in the UK people are asking the same question: How do we make our operations more efficient?

So, where do we start?

Value maps are commonplace for organisations who seek to drive efficiencies. By visualising how the  organisation produces a product or how it delivers a service can help to interrogate processes and remove any non-value-added activities. Whatever your department, from customer service and finance, through to HR and operations, to get to that product or service offering you’ll find there is one key denominator on this value map; document processing.

It goes without saying that customer, supplier and employee facing documents need to be  effectively produced and distributed. But, many organisations are finding that legacy systems place restrictions on how documents are processed, meaning that employees are increasingly spending a large percentage of their time manually creating and sending documents.

On first glance, you could be forgiven in thinking this manual processing time is actually a value-added activity; after all, this time spent generating important documents – whether that’s an invoice, customer welcome pack or a reward statement – ultimately ensures people receive timely and relevant content when they need, and expect, it.

Without a doubt, these documents are essential to your organisation – they create cash flow, and build customer and employee relationships. However, the unnecessary time spent preparing these documents can in fact be slowing your operations down significantly and can result in a fragmented process that is at risk of human error and can take employees away from undertaking higher value tasks on a daily basis.

With that said, it becomes clearer to see how these manual, time consuming activities are in fact non-value-added activities that need to be addressed by senior management and department heads to make the organisation more efficient.

Improve efficiency with document automation

Document automation is fast becoming the next step in lean. Third-party services, such as Aceni by Datagraphic, can provide sophisticated document production and output capabilities that automate the document delivery , via multiple channels.

Implemented in weeks, not years, and with no capital costs or license fees, secure document automation services are helping to liberate employees to focus on higher value tasks instead of manual and repetitive document processing, and automating the entire document process end-to-end.

Ultimately, organisations who have adopted secure document automation are finding that it is a crucial value-added process that helps to achieve greater efficiencies across the organisation- that is now more responsive, agile, and lean.

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