This phase is all about using automation to improve and streamline workflow management. There are two major ways this is achieved:
- Workflow management reacts to changes and divergences in the environment by updating the job to incorporate a more appropriate SOP.
- The system completes actions that previously required a human, such as updating job information or status, monitoring jobs, and sending information to external parties.
The goal of workflow automation is to increase productivity, allowing staff to provide more value to the business and the customer base with the same amount of time in a day. It can be summed up as “work smarter, not harder”.
A successful workflow automation implementation will have many of the following characteristics
- The SOP of a job is updated automatically based on data entered and actions completed by staff. When the details or requirements of a job change, the SOP updates to reflect this.
- The system automatically updates job status and progress. Staff manually check off progress markers far less often.
- The system recognises when a problem may/has occurred and creates tasks or notifications to prompt staff. Staff do not need to constantly monitor progress and are surprised less often by a problem.
- Information is automatically sent out of the system to customers or suppliers at the appropriate time/stage in the job.
- SOPs react to data received from external sources. Data is recorded and in some circumstances tasks are created to ensure an appropriate staff response.
EXAMPLES OF PHASE SIX
Below are some examples of how this phase is supported.
- A request for documents is generated and sent to customers automatically when a key document hasn’t been received by the desired date.
- An Arrival Notice is sent to customers automatically when an Actual Time of Arrival is recorded in the system.
- The system records the date of a document receipt in a custom field.
- The system marks the customs process as complete when a cleared message is received.
- The system creates a task to investigate customs issues when a customs hold message is received.
- Increased productivity/output
- Fewer service failures
- Improved customer service
- Reduced staff costs for equivalent output
- Allow staff to focus on high value tasks rather than simple repetitive ones
- Staff are motivated by doing more interesting work, leaving the grunt work to the computer