7 Steps to Automate your Internal Processes

When it comes to simplifying your business, what kinds of processes come to mind?

The most important thing you can do is streamline your operations, but what kind of tools can you use to get the ball rolling?

Business process automation is the concept that is gaining a lot of traction thanks to the fact that it can achieve some incredible results without overhauling how you work today. Simply by digitizing and automating various operations, including those on the back end, you can reduce a lot of work and time spent by your employees.

Even though there can be a lot of different details involved in automating your business procedures, we have compiled a list of seven different methods that you can use to get on track. Once you see the potential of these changes, you will wonder how you ever got along without them.

Step One: Identify Key Areas For Automation

Before you can dive into the various tools and software that you can use for the different parts of your business, you need to understand what can be improved. This means that you should take the time to break down all of your business operations by department and create a list of steps for each action.

In this case, you want to be as comprehensive and precise as possible. The more detailed you get, the easier it will be to identify and pinpoint tasks that can be automated to save time. The goal here is to locate pain points and bottlenecks first so that you can address those immediately.

As you go, you will also notice that your automation software will usually handle other parts of the job that you may not have considered. As such, it could be that once you automate a particular pain point, it filters out into all of the different operations for that department, which will bring the rest of it online.

Step Two: See Which Part of the Process Can Be Validated First

When you take a hard look at most of your operations, you will notice that they can usually be broken down into action and approval. Thus, it’s imperative that you look at all of the steps that need to be taken for the process to go from inception to completion so that you can better create a solution for it.

For example, if your employees have to fill out documentation and then submit it for approval from the boss, then your steps may be as follows. First, the worker fills out the paperwork, then he or she scans it into the computer, sends it out for approval, where it is either looked over or printed out and signed off Then, the approved document is sent back to the employee who can then file the paper away.

In this case, we have five different steps. Automation can automatically help out with two of those steps by allowing your employees to create documents digitally instead of on paper. This way, rather than having to scan physical material that can’t be edited on the computer, you can make changes or updates in real time based on the notes from the supervisor.

Overall, the goal in this step is to figure out what exactly your automation will do to alleviate the pain points that you found in step one. Essentially you are pre-validating the idea before you even decide on a particular tool or program.

Step Three: Find a Tool That Fits Your Model

Fortunately, since technology has become so ubiquitous these days, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a system or application that can fit within your parameters. Whether it’s a program that will allow you to digitize work orders or software that can help you secure and manage customer files through the cloud, there are tons of different options from which you can choose.

During this step, the important thing is to find a system that can be finessed and customized to fit your company. Thus, instead of conforming your operations to fit the program, you should find something that can change to meet your needs.

As we mentioned, a lot of these applications can take on much more than a single process, so if you can find something that alleviates multiple pain points at once, it will be much more valuable to your bottom line than trying to implement different programs and trying to make them sync after the fact.

Step Four: Create a Rollout Plan

Once you have a product or application in mind, the next step is to figure out how you are going to implement it into your current system. During this phase, you should be in contact with the developers of the solution so that you can answer any questions you may have and figure out the best method of rolling it out to your employees.

Things to consider when planning are: cost, training, and deadlines. You should create a timeline of how long it will take to switch over to the new system, looking at potential drawbacks or issues that may happen along the way. This is another reason to talk to the developer as it will allow you to be better prepared for such problems so that you can hopefully avoid them altogether.

Another thing to remember here is that if you are rolling out multiple systems that you should stagger them to allow time for your staff to get used to each change. If you try to do too much at once, it could be overwhelming and cause problems during the transition.

Step Five: Test The System (Pilot Program)

In some cases, this may or may not be a viable option, but we highly recommend going this route if you can because it can prove to be a crucial experience overall. During this phase, you can see how the program and automation work in real time, which will give you a much better idea of how it can all come together when you roll it out for real.

The important thing to remember with this step is that the idea is to see what potential issues may arise from switching to the new system, as well as making sure that it improves your operations in the way that you wanted it to. Now is the time to fiddle with things and make adjustments as needed so that when it goes live you don’t have much in the way of growing pains.

The best thing about running a pilot program is that if the application proves to be either too difficult or costly to be beneficial, you can still go back to square one without having invested too much time or money into it.

Step Six: Switch Over to the New System

Once you feel satisfied with the results of the pilot program, now is the time to make it official. By now, everyone involved in the new process (both workers and supervisors) should have a good idea of what to expect, which will make the transition much more seamless and trouble-free.

During this phase, you should be following the timeline and the plan that you developed in step four (and adjusted in step five). Having this plan also allows you to determine if you are ahead or behind schedule. If things are not going according to plan, then you want to make detailed notes about what is going differently and how you are dealing with it. This way, when it comes time to automate a new process you can be better prepared so that you don’t make the same mistakes again.

Step Seven: Analyze Your Results and Adjust Accordingly

For most companies, the roll-out phase is the end of the line. Once you’ve fully switched over, that’s all there is to it, right? Well, the fact is that you still want to pay attention to the system and make adjustments after the fact so that you can refine it and make it better. Transitioning to automation is not just a one-time thing, but it’s rather a continuing process that can be customized and tweaked as needed.

The important thing during this phase is to make sure that you are getting the right kind of validation that you expected when you drew up your pain points and plan of action. If things are not as good as you thought, then you need to understand why. After the first six months or so, you should have a much better idea of how things are going, and the analysis of the change can be invaluable for your business. Overall, it’s important to be able to make a comparison so that you can make sure that you’re getting the value that you deserve.

Conclusion

Once you’ve started automating your business processes, you will discover that there is so much more potential than you initially thought. At first, you may believe that only front-facing, customer service operations could be automated, but then you discover a brand-new tool that can make your accounting department run much more smoothly.

In the end, the important thing to remember is that you can always improve your operations, so you should never consider your job to be done. Even after transitioning to a system that makes your old methods look ancient, you should still be on the lookout for something better. As long as there is potential to improve your bottom line, you should always be considering new business process automation solutions.


Are you ready to automate your internal processes? We’re here to help you out! Learn how InField Clipboard can save your time, increase your revenue, and help you grow your business. Request a FREE DEMO today!

The Business Impact of Using Field Worker and Vehicle Management Platforms

If you manage a fleet of vehicles, then you know how hard it can be to maintain all of the records and documentation for each truck. That’s not even mentioning the fact that it’s difficult to ensure that everyone will be on time for each job, as route optimization and troubleshooting can be a major hassle on its own. Wouldn’t it be so much better if you could have a single application that could help you manage everything in real time? Well, there is.

With technology advancing so quickly these days, vehicle management platforms are here to help you make the most out of your fleet, as well as improve your bottom line. Let’s take a look at some of the best options available and see what they can do for your business.

What is a Vehicle Management Platform?

Simply put, this is a program that allows you to remotely monitor and manage all of your vehicles with a single, easy-to-use interface. Rather than having to collect data from each car or truck individually and then compile that information afterward, now you can manage it all in real time and record everything from mileage to fuel consumption as well as time and routes taken.

Depending on the software that you use, you can also perform engine diagnostics and do analysis review from the back end, which enables you to pay attention to everything without having to be on site or on the truck at the time. This can potentially save countless hours and make your business run much more efficiently.

Top Vehicle Management Platforms

Top Vehicle Management Platforms

To get a better understanding of how these programs work, let’s make a comparison of some of the top platforms in the industry. We will be looking at three primary companies: Synovia Solutions, TomTom WebFleet, and 86Borders.

Synovia Solutions

If you want a company that stands behind its product and offers guarantees for its performance, then you will love Synovia. Not only do they have a remarkable fleet management system that can help improve your bottom line, but they stand behind their services and guarantee both connectivity and troubleshooting if there are any problems. Simply put, you not only get some incredible software but peace of mind as well.

The primary goal of Synovia is to provide both onboard tools to make your operations more efficient as well as analytics so that you can see what isn’t working and make changes on the back end. Overall, by streamlining the whole management process, it allows you to focus more on improving the quality of your work and growing as a company. Here are some of the features you can expect from this program.

GPS Mapping and Tracking: not only see where your vehicles are at any given time, but create records so that you can compare them after the fact.

Time Management: instead of having your employees write down when they clock in or out, Synovia allows them to do it through the app, saving time and paperwork, as well as improving accuracy.

Engine Diagnostics: as soon as an error code pops up on one of your vehicles you are alerted so that you can take the appropriate action before it becomes a severe issue.

Analysis: compare routes, travel times, and other metrics to see how your fleet is performing against your planning. See where things are lagging so that you know how to correct them.

The analysis portion of Synovia is a proprietary system called Silverlining. Some of the data you can look at with this software includes:

  • Average speed
  • Arrival time
  • Missed stops
  • Excessive idling
  • Railroad crossing compliance
  • And much more

You can imagine that having such a comprehensive breakdown of your fleet will make it much easier to pinpoint where changes can be done so that you can drastically improve your bottom line. Before, you had to rely on your drivers providing this kind of detailed analysis, but now you can access it immediately and remotely.

TomTom WebFleet

You may already be familiar with TomTom as a GPS system for your car, but the company now provides some exceptional fleet management systems that can help you upgrade your current business model. Overall, you can get more out of this application than you could with most other platforms. Here are some highlights that you can expect from WebFleet.

Driver Communication: TomTom provides mobile devices that you can install quickly into any car or truck in your fleet. These devices let drivers and the office communicate much more efficiently, including notifications about delays, new stops, and any other details that may change en route.

Third-Party Integration: if you currently have some kind of work management system in place, then you can integrate it into WebFleet so that you have total immersion between platforms. This will make it much easier to transfer data between programs and ensure that your back end is much more efficient.

Driver Analysis: this system monitors all kinds of metrics for your fleet, including speed, compliance, and stops. Thus, if you notice that your drivers are not meeting your expectations then WebFleet will notify you of any issues as well as potential solutions to correct them.

Tachograph and Time Remaining: analyze your time and speed on the road in real time and get an accurate estimate of arrival. This will help ensure that you get better readings for your customers which will improve your bottom line. Every second counts.

In addition to all of this, TomTom WebFleet also has the standard management processes, such as comprehensive data analysis, GPS tracking, and diagnostics. As you can see, this one of the more complete vehicle management platforms, and it can provide you with a wealth of data to improve your services.

86Borders

If you don’t want to invest a lot of money into infrastructure for your fleet (i.e., mobile devices and GPS trackers), then you may prefer to have something like 86Borders instead. This platform can be installed on any mobile device, which means that generic smartphones or tablets are a viable option for your business.

Overall, this management system is a bit more generic than the others, meaning that it is designed just to make logistics easier, but it’s not specific to fleet management. So, things like vehicle diagnostics and fuel efficiency will not be a part of the system. Overall, 86Borders is there to make it easier to communicate between remote workers and connect to each other through its remarkable widget platform.

Some of the features that can be utilized for fleet management in particular are route optimization and last mile mapping. These can either be used on the back or the front end so that you can also improve customer service by allowing clients to see where your vehicle is at any given time. These days, having that kind of accountability is valuable for consumers, which can help improve your bottom line.

Other features include document uploading and management, as well as customer signatures and feedback. Overall, 86Borders works well as both a back end and front end platform, so feel free to use it however you see fit.

What is a Field Worker Management Platform?

Field service management (FSM) refers to the management of a company’s resources employed at or en route to the property of clients, rather than on company property. Examples include locating vehicles, managing worker activity, scheduling and dispatching work, ensuring driver safety, and integrating the management of such activities with inventory, billing, accounting and other back-office systems. FSM most commonly refers to companies who need to manage installation, service or repairs of systems or equipment, and/or have a level of complexity with their logistics work process.

What inField Clipboard Can Do

Our customers have realized the following results by using inField Clipboard:

  • Integrating with world class hardware-based GPS solutions providers (e.g. TomTom, Synovia, etc.) means we are able to provide a dashboard of where the vehicles are located, and automatically overlay where customers and/or suppliers are located all on one map.
  • Integrating with mobile device based GPS solutions providers (e.g. 86Borders, Fleet Rover) means we are able to provide a dashboard of where the field workers are located, and automatically overlay where customers and/or suppliers are located all on one map.
  • Integrating with any GPS service provider means we are able to send notifications to customer, other field workers, and to administrators about location, and availability of the field workers, as well as automate the creation of timesheets using Geofencing. This also enables automating reporting against KPIs like travel time, performance at the job site (time to do work), etc.

 

Benefits of Using Vehicle Management Platforms

Benefits of Using Vehicle Management Platforms

Now that we’ve seen what you can expect from different software programs, how can it improve your business? Here are the top reasons that vehicle management is going to work for you.

Eliminate Lag Times

Whether it’s waiting for the driver to deliver his load or waiting for signed documents to get back to the office, having a vehicle management platform eliminates all of that waiting by providing a real-time solution. Now you can upload and send documents remotely and communicate with drivers instantly, especially when details such as, appointment time, scope of work, etc. change. This means that you can start processing orders as soon as they are completed, which can help improve office operations and help you get paid faster.

Sharper Metrics

Currently, do you know what problems are holding your company back? Is it errors in completed forms, consumed materials not being recorded, fuel efficiency, load times, or driver error? You may have some estimates of what happens out on the road, but without a comprehensive field worker and vehicle management platform, it’s impossible for those estimates to be precise. As soon as you implement this software, however, you will get a much clearer and more detailed picture of your operations, which can have an enormous impact on your bottom line. Until you can pinpoint a problem, how can you expect to find a solution?

Reduced Labor

Since the platform handles most of the detail work for you, it means that you don’t have to work as hard to get the same level of performance from your fleet. Now, a single supervisor or manager can handle multiple drivers at once, eliminating the need for extra staff in the office. Also, with reduced lag times you can get more orders done in the same amount of time, which will enable you to grow and thrive as a business.

Improved Customer Service

Now that you can see all of your metrics in real time and make changes on the fly, you can pass that knowledge to your clients. You can provide a more accurate estimate on delivery times, as well as allow for instant customer feedback through the platform. You can work quickly to process their orders, meaning that you can provide more value to your services. Overall, having the right vehicle management platform enables you to focus more on enriching the front end experience, making your brand more valuable in the eyes of your clientele.


Bottom Line

If you want to make the most out of your fleet, then you need to have an integrated field worker and vehicle management platform working for you. Until then, you will always be held back by limitations and uncontrollable variables.