Companies usually grow through a combination of organic growth and acquisition leading to a complex web of disparate and disjointed processes across multiple systems that have been made do with or mended over time.
This means processes are complicated, can vary and are often difficult to control – requiring a great deal of user input. This adds both overhead and risk to the business.
To be able to scale whilst maintaining or improving margin there is a need to review and improve businesses’ processes and the systems that drive them.
Improving these business processes is a great way to increase the value and efficiency of a company.
ERP implementations are often put forward as the solution to these inefficiencies and claim they will deliver value. However, they often fail to do so.
Before setting out on a business process transformation with a Dynamics 365 Partner, you need to set a set of clear and achievable objectives, they will:
- Form the foundation of your process improvement project
- Connect the changes in processes directly to the business value
- Clarify why these improvements have been provided over other competing priorities
- Be clearly communicated to those working on the project and to the business
- Define accountability for achieving them
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When considering your objectives these will typically focus on 4 pillars that will help you decide which processes will add value to your Dynamics 365 implementation.
If your processes are efficient, they:
- Take less time
- Have fewer steps
- Include automation
- Make wasteful activities stand out so they can be removed
These efficiencies will not only reduce the cost of running these processes but will also increase the quality of the outcome.
As a good example take a skilled procurement team spending hours or days working to calculate what you need to meet demand, identify a range of suppliers and key large volumes of orders into the solution.
If your process is such that your solution is configured to calculate what you need to order based on demand, coverage and forecast and then order this from your preferred suppliers at the best price, these resources can focus on value-add activities such as negotiating better trade deals or ensuring the quality of goods received. All they need to do with the automated process is verify its output.
Building these processes with discipline into Dynamics 365 improves quality, reduces mistakes and improves your ability to meet sales demand. It also significantly reduces your FTE costs associated with mundane and time-consuming activity.
Effective processes will help drive user adoption and improve relations with both your suppliers and customers.
A well-defined and well-structured set of business processes mean you can measure your relationships throughout their lifecycle and ensure you offer an excellent experience to all.
This will help you nurture and retain customers, suppliers and staff.
For example, if you have a clearly defined sales process that is simple for your customers, enables on-time delivery and can ensure competitive pricing it is easier to both acquire and keep customers.
This will also help you identify where you need to invest in your sales process to improve further.
Consistent = Repeatable = Less Risk and this seems fairly simple.
A great example of this is an effective purchase order review and approval process. A repeatable and predictable approval control process ensures your procurement team can identify where approvals are not being completed, or being rejected and resolve these in a timely manner improving relationships with both your supply chain and stakeholders.
Where approvals are not consistent, controlled or logged in Dynamics 365 this can lead to orders being approved and delivered in error and cause contention with suppliers disrupting relationships and delaying payments.
Rigour in your processes helps you identify the cause of any issues and therefore reduces the risk of these issues existing in your business for long.
Predictable, consistent and preferably automated (but verified) processes that can be measured mean you can know their outcomes without need to directly interact with, take action or observe them.
Good processes allow managers to manage their business operations and report to their leadership without a need to be involved in every detail.
It means you can lift your focus from the detail and instead focus on enhancing the business.
- Focus – Some processes are highly impactive on gross sales or net income and these should be a focus
- Execute – You cannot improve processes without being able to execute the change. Make sure you choose objectives that are realistic and achievable by your organisation (also consider iteration)
- Understand – Process improvement fails through poor adoption and habits will not change if people do not understand why. Make sure your team understand WHY the process is changing
- Measure – Establish the metrics by which your value will be judged. Without this you will not be able to understand if you have succeeded in your objectives or not
- Seek Advice – Business and business applications are changing at a rate never seen before. It is important to secure external advice to help choose the right objectives and help you execute them