Economic times are tough, and the pressure to cut costs has never been greater. But don't let this pressure force you into making bad business decisions that will handicap your organization for years to come. Knowledge Center contributor Laura Mooney explains how making investments in relatively low-cost, quick-to-implement business process management and enterprise architecture tools can help you make smart cost reductions, operate more efficiently with fewer resources, and keep your business operating at an effective level.
glory days seem far behind us, as stock prices fall, retail sales
plummet, budgets are cut and global markets struggle. Businesses and
government organizations are both looking for ways to dramatically
reduce costs, do more with less and basically just survive.
Most companies are using what seems to be a logical approach-cut,
cut, cut! Cut people, cut budgets, cut travel. Or they are switching to
lower-cost suppliers-anything which results in an immediate reduction
in expenses. But, in essence, these organizations are just starving
themselves, and it will likely come back to haunt them as the core
infrastructure of the company is crippled to the point where it cannot
function effectively. As the market begins to rebound, these companies
will continue to struggle and be left behind.
But is there a better way to weather the storm than just through
blind cost-cutting and headcount reductions? Yes. Instead of blindly
cutting costs, the most effective approach for both short-term and
long-term success is to invest in technology that will help you not
only survive but also gain ground during this down economy. Let's
explore a couple of the best ways to do this.
Method No. 1: Improve processes through business process management
Why cut blindly when there is a software application that will
immediately improve process efficiency and employee productivity across
the board? Business process management (BPM) software is designed to
automate and improve people-intensive business processes-the processes
that are often the most manual and therefore the slowest and most
cost-intensive. Here are four ways BPM software can allow for
1. Increased efficiency
The process automation that BPM enables results in greater
throughput with the same or fewer resources, allowing the organization
to either deliver more or reduce overhead by eliminating or redeploying
resources that are no longer needed to meet objectives.
2. Get more out of what you already have
By acting as a single process layer across disparate and distributed
systems, BPM software allows an organization to extend the value of its
existing enterprise resource planning (ERP), mainframe and other legacy
applications. BPM provides the interface needed to improve business
processes, create new processes and modernize your operations without
undertaking a costly system replacement effort. Users of BPM frequently
cite the value of the software for extending ERP and mainframe
functions at a fraction of the time and cost that would be required to
build the process improvements directly on these native systems.
3. Lower risk
Many of our current economic troubles can be traced back to a lack
of discipline and oversight of key business practices. BPM software
allows you to completely document processes, enforce adherence through
process automation and business rules, and monitor and audit both human
and system activities at all levels of the organization. This
transparency ensures that you are in the best possible position to
monitor your operations and minimize your risk.
4. Greater visibility into dead weight
Once a process is deployed on a BPM software platform, all of the
inner workings of that process become transparent. Management can
identify unneeded or underutilized systems and roles, and make educated
decisions on the best way to eliminate overhead-without impacting
performance or customer service. Likewise, high-cost areas can be
scrutinized with the simulation capabilities of the software so that
process changes can be made to improve the profitability, efficiency
and effectiveness of the overall process.
Not only does BPM deliver value in many ways but organizations that
have deployed BPM consistently report a return on investment of 10 to
20 percent per process project. In short, BPM software can help
strengthen an organization's corporate infrastructure, making
organizations more effective and more agile. And, as the economy
improves, an organization is primed to take advantage of new
opportunities better, faster and more profitably than their competitors.