When manufacturers get it right, automation provides a path towards digital agility, which ultimately leads to the reduction of cost and errors, while improving productivity and raising revenue. Digital agility is especially important amid COVID-19 disruptions, as it allows manufacturers to quickly pivot.
Sophie Thompson, director of solution delivery at Catalytic suggests automating six areas in order to achieve digital agility in operations:
- Reviewing data quality. Clean data is the starting point for improving downstream operations. When data is missing, incorrect, or out-of-date, it leads to unnecessary rework and manual review. Using automation to continuously review data and proactively act on inconsistencies allows all of the downstream processes that interact with that data to move quickly and efficiently.
- Identifying gaps, omissions and duplicates. Automated checks for omissions or errors can be built into any automated process, with two key benefits. First, it frees up teams from completing redundant and tedious manual review of data during a process, often with high rates of human error. Second, using automation to identify errors improves data quality downstream, improving the efficiency of the processes that later rely on that clean data.
- Triggering a process to fix the issue. Automatically triggering an automated process to track and manage an issue allows teams to coordinate all of the required activities around issue resolution and provide visibility into roadblocks or delays in getting to a solution. When a new issue is identified, it can be quickly and automatically assigned to the right owner based on area of expertise, business function, or priority; avoiding multiple handoffs and back-and-forths to find the right owner. Once assigned, an automated process can keep both the submitter and escalation paths informed on status and estimated resolution date.
- Sending smart web forms. Smart webforms are more than just surveys for data collection. They allow for streamlined communication during a process, eliminating the need for email, while also gathering data for later reporting and analysis on the efficiency of the process. Using smart webforms instead of email or other manual data collection methods improves visibility into a process, making businesses smarter in how they work and connect people.
- Storing customer, vendor and employee responses in a database. Feedback from customers, vendors, and employees can provide valuable insight into the health of a company’s processes and customer relationships. But it’s easy for that feedback to end up in a black hole of survey responses. But storing them in a database instead, they are accessible for automated and ongoing analysis. With an automated workflow analyzing and distributing those responses, the data becomes actionable - reaching the right people, quickly.
- Organizing data to make a case for continuous improvement. Often processes can feel broken but it’s hard to identify where the breakdown occurs. When data is collected in smart webforms and stored in an accessible database, it’s easy to identify trends and areas for improvement. This allows management teams to focus their process improvement efforts, quickly helping their teams quickly adapt to new challenges.