Re-defining process through automations
For many years, Business Process Outsourcing has been considered as a simple cost play but now through process excellence BPO industries are able to provide more efficient and refined services to industries. Process excellence can be achieved through rearranging or redefining process or reducing unnecessary steps or simply through automations.
Re-defining process is about systematically improving the way work gets done in our organizations. Re-defining also results in Re-Think, Re-Examine and Re-Vamp. It forces people to come out of their shells and change the way they look at how a job has to be completed. It encourages people to look at different business areas and modify and adapt certain practices which are key in a specific type of business in their unfamiliar domains.
Automation can be developed in any processes from simple data entry to complex calculations. Re-defining is necessary to reduce cost and increase efficiency of process.
There are different methods followed for re-defining process. It can be under different banners in different industries like - Business Process Management, Enterprise Architecture, Lean, Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, Statistical Process Control, Program Progress Modules, Cloud, Automation or Robotics but the ultimate aim is to increase process efficiency. One can make use of value stream mapping as one of the tools to remove unnecessary steps or can build up simple macros to do automations of repetitive process.
Many Business process outsourcing companies have adopted automation in a big way. Automations have moved beyond simple tools or macros to facets that run the entire business. This helps in reducing the risk of failure, but it cannot be completely eliminated.
Re-defining is not only necessary for operations or transaction work but is equally important for highly specialized process like audit and risk controls. Gone are the days where auditors did manual audits, now one can build up automations in audit process and sampling tools. This will help in taking correct statistical samplings and will result in better controls. Here I would like to share an example of a Black belt lean six sigma project on e-governance client for enhancement of quality control system, which has helped us to reduced considerable errors and better control system.
Brief description of the project: Government departments in the recent past have submitted to e-governance, all the communications have been automated which require strict quality checks. Any miss will have far reaching legal and statutory consequences. The engagement on an average sends out more than one lakh communications per day. Each of these communications has to go through a stringent quality check. Automation of this enormous task was the key to improving the end to end process of quality check which was manually done.
Problem: It was observed that 16% of batches were getting discarded and reworked again. This project focused on the reduction in percentage of rejected batches to 5% and also on the reduction of audit time (AHT) to significant levels to cover more samples from the batches being audited.
Solution: Deployed 'On the fly platform.' This enabled the QC team to verify the communications before actual PDF communication was generated, this in turn reduced rework for rejected batches and postal barcode wastage. This also helped in sample selection with different criteria which ensured that sampling is done correctly and covers all scenarios. This ensured that wrong communications to end users were not sent.
To increase and enhance the speed and sample size an automated solution using VBA was implemented this made a large part of the process of quality and audit check automated and the speed of audit increased drastically. The above automations not only helped to make process more stable and accurate but also helped in reduction of QC time per transaction from 109sec to less than 10 sec which in turn helped in increase of sample size with the same head count and % of rejected batches reduced below 5%.
Information technology has a pivotal role in automating those identified tasks which are repetitive & routine. Designing a methodology in automating such identified processes & enabling the ultimate transformation of the process has resulted in dependable accuracy levels & optimal usage of human resources, where in these very human resources are allowed to spend more time in the complex analysis which of course a machine cannot do & which in turn improves the quality of the personnel.
Automation has become the back bone of innovation, operational efficiency, core competitive strength & ultimate transformation in the way BPO industry works.