Digital Process Automation (DPA) is the next step in the evolution of Business Process Management (BPM). DPA has two important aspects.
Digital Process Automation (DPA) is the next step in the evolution of Business Process Management (BPM). DPA has two important aspects. First, implementation of DPA means automating pieces of a process to increase efficiency while preserving the steps that require a human to be involved. Second, the focus of DPA is to improve the customer’s experience. Leveraging DPA can be achieved in various ways that make things better for both the customer and the business.
For example, automating elements of the distribution process may get products into the hands of your customers quicker and more efficiently. While that increases your customer’s satisfaction, it can also accelerate revenue realization.
DPA can improve processes for any business. But manufacturing is in the unique position to have a special appreciation for automation while also having many business areas where DPA can make an impact. This article discusses five of these impact areas to stimulate your thinking about the value DPA could have on your business.
The production process includes a slew of documentation, hand-offs, notifications, and, frankly, potential bottlenecks. Waiting on approvals, delays in hand-offs from one employee to another, inspections, and testing are just the start. Add IoT devices to the mix, and there is more to monitor, more data to manage, and potentially more processes.
On the surface, this may not seem like the right place for DPA. After all, the intent is to improve the customer experience. However, improving the production process does improve the customer experience. Especially if items can be manufactured and delivered faster, have fewer defects and errors, and customer order status can be automated.
Both distribution and inventory come with a lot of data and information that needs to be constantly updated and referenced. You’re likely already using devices to help manage these areas more effectively, but DPA can improve your logistics and inventory management even more.
For instance, your barcode or IoT inventory management systems can, and should, be updating your ERP and sales applications to give an accurate representation of what you have on hand. Automating this with DPA could mean sending low inventory alerts to stakeholders. This type of notification prevents orders from being stalled while you wait for materials or parts to be replenished.
DPA can also automate tracking and notification of shipments, deliveries, and other required information and documentation. DPA can also kick off critical processes associated with these actions. For example, when a delivery notification is received, processing the associated PO or printing and sending an invoice to the customer could be kicked off without monitoring or manual intervention from the billing team.
Cash-to-cash is a critical measure for manufacturers. Speeding revenue realization is a strength for DPA, which can shorten the road between the different steps across the cash-to-cash process.
As we’ve discussed in this previous article, sales can be accelerated with DPA by automating approval routing, order placement, and other streamlining efforts. DPA can also automate order price calculations, even in complex environments that involve multiple conditions and approvals. Automation can also ensure that order data gets where it needs to be rapidly and concurrently, sending order information to ERPs, CRMs, and accounting at the same time. Data entered into Salesforce can be disseminated through integrations with these external systems. Without hand-offs from one group to another, the entire process speeds along, customers receive their items quickly, and billing can happen sooner.
B2B communication formats can have a host of different formats, including various EDI formats like EDIFACT, XML, TRADACOMS, and others. It’s the 40-year-old engine that keeps business-to-business communications running. Many manufacturers still rely on manual input and chair-turning for translation from one format to another and from one system to another. Transmission failures are common, and checking and re-sending messages is a costly and time-consuming use of resources.
These communication errors delay everything from purchase orders to manifests, but most importantly, manual entry is rife with the potential for errors. These communication errors result in problems for the customer, who end up dealing with incorrect orders, incorrect invoices, and delays.
Using low code platforms to help with the transformations, DPA can eliminate the errors caused by manual entry while speeding up the B2B communication process. EDI documents are translated accurately and routed to multiple endpoints concurrently, removing any linear process slowdowns.
Customer service can be significantly enhanced with DPA and field services. Customers can be automatically notified of appointment windows and technician arrivals, and teams can receive approvals or be dispatched automatically based on need and workload.
Of course, manufacturers have even more to gain from the combination of DPA and IoT. With sensors in customer equipment, technicians can be automatically alerted to potential problems and proactively contact customers to schedule preventive maintenance before a problem occurs.
Pairing Salesforce with automated messaging and field service systems creates a cycle that is highly beneficial for customers. The CRM can send out automated messages based on installation dates to remind customers to schedule updates or regular maintenance. These messages can include links to scheduling applications that communicate directly with dispatching and provisioning systems.
Before the appointment, technicians can receive an automated data pull from all embedded devices to have a clearer picture of any new problems or predictive issues and handle those proactively during their appointment. The customer’s equipment remains in top working condition, and the organization doesn’t have to chase down customers to schedule regular appointments.
All in all, DPA is an asset to any organization. However, manufacturers gain specific advantages and benefits from injecting DPA into business processes where automation makes sense. While the core purpose of DPA is to improve the customer experience, a manufacturer’s bottom line can also be positively influenced.
If you’re considering adding automation within your existing, human-centered processes, Six Consulting can help. Our expertise with Salesforce, manufacturing, and process automation gives us the perfect combination of skills and background to understand your business challenges and help you solve them with technology solutions, like DPA. Contact us today to find out how we can help accelerate your business and increase your customer experience.
“If you’re looking for guidance on better using your Salesforce investment with digital process automation, or you need a partner to help you realize the massive benefits DPA and Salesforce provide when combined, contact Six Consulting today.”
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