Enterprise software has long been regarded as a second-class option. Knocked as hard to use and difficult to integrate into other workflows, it wasn’t until recently that software developers began to actually emphasize the user experience.
Enterprise users began forcing corporations to adopt software solutions through a shadow IT department and utilizing email systems, task management, and customer relationship management solutions. This led to rapid enterprise software improvements so that those solutions could be adopted across a company.
But digital transformation is not just an email system or cloud-based file sharing. It is being digital from end to end and incorporating the full processes and systems in everything a company does.
This includes mundane tasks and checklists/punch lists that are traditionally paper forms that are now digitized. But many companies have a tremendous opportunity to adopt a custom software solution that can address significant challenges. Here are the top software solutions that will push your company into the next phase of its digital transformation process.
Digitizing The Safety Process
Whether it’s the inspection process at a chemical plant or shifting safety processes related to Covid-19 mitigation, safety checklists are commonplace in the enterprise. But paper forms are fallible. They get lost, become illegible or are outdated.
By digitizing the safety process, you can ensure that a uniform routine is followed, documented and archived every time.
Industries that utilize a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) or Work Instruction Manual (WIM) rely on precise processes to ensure worker safety. The WIM can indicate which wrench to use, which direction to turn and how long a process should take.
The JSA and WIM are traditionally well-used physical books that can easily go missing. If it’s missing, an inspector can shut down a rig that produces hundreds of thousands of dollars per day. That’s the definition of a critical business process.
By putting crucial safety documentation on a tablet as a digitized process, field teams can record their inspections and accurately document their safety protocol in real-time. Inspectors can analyze photos and examine the reports. Data analysts can also use the data collected to anticipate service issues or identify safety concerns.
For example, if a security guard is doing their rounds and their connected device hasn’t moved for a period of time, the device can send a safety ping. We have seen lives saved because of a feature like this.
Inventory and Asset Tracking
Production-based companies battle two main loss generators: downtime and lost assets. Resource tracking and inventory awareness can ensure that your revenue-producing equipment is functioning properly for as many hours as possible.
Digitizing the repair and return process as well as asset tracking can identify efficiencies and keep valuable machinery functioning when needed. This can be done to the individual part level, for example. If you can track a product’s lifecycle from manufacture to its end of life, you can identify maintenance intervals and minimize downtime.
But tracking assets is also a valuable need for global companies with remote storage yards. Misplacing a $300,000 crane can be a huge deal and happens all too frequently.
But digitizing these processes is not as simple as taking the paper form and putting it on a tablet. True digital transformation leads businesses toward standardized data sets that offer a uniform view of data.
So, if you have to change the fuel filter on a crane and the new filter requires a new housing, the crane’s WIM would need to be edited. Previously this meant producing a new page for the binder and hoping it gets distributed. But by converting the process to a fully digital one, you can efficiently distribute the new information to your global workforce.
In the healthcare industry, we see the direct impact of having processes that are rigidly followed. One healthcare system could drastically reduce readmission rates by creating a simple catheter cleaning process and a system for following it. Digitization doesn’t have to be complex. Processes just are routinely not followed because they are almost universally not documented well.
Digitizing a process and documenting it does not change the process or make it more efficient. By listening to your team’s voice, you can identify opportunities to streamline a task or series of tasks so that your workforce can focus on actual work and not mundane record-keeping.
Robotic Process Automation is a great way to create efficiencies in a workflow or business process. RPA enables companies to “automate mundane rules-based business processes, enabling business users to devote more time to serving customers or other higher-value work.”
Automating data collection from submitted inspection forms can generate a report in real-time that can pre-empt any safety or maintenance issues, for example. In field service, production-based, or manufacturing companies, this can lead to more accurate data collection and increased employee satisfaction.
Adopting a company-wide software solution can be an expensive and daunting task. Long rollout times, the heavy involvement of business units, and IT all while trying to keep business as usual is a path fraught with issues and pitfalls. RPA can chip away at many of the business problems, needs, and opportunities. Many small automations across the enterprise can produce an impressive amount of manageable benefits and remove the barriers highlighted above.
RPA can produce surprisingly impactful results in an organization where traditional human-centric roles that execute a seemingly complex series of tasks involving multiple steps and responses to proceed can still be distilled into an automated process. For example, a company’s new hire onboarding process typically involves HR, IT, Payroll, Security, Facilities, and one or more business units. With RPA, you can combine this into a single process that executes every time a new hire is flagged in the HR system. It will create the employee in the HR system, set them up for office space, create their badge and parking card, set them up in payroll, allocate a computer and cell phone, issue a company credit card, and provide security access to the needed business applications, and data.
The results are the same, always. There is an audit trail and data to measure performance over time, and it does not get bored, distracted, or take time off. This is the real benefit of RPA and digital transformation as a whole. It releases workers from some of the often necessary but mundane business tasks, and keeps them focused on productivity.