Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How Do I Mobilize Business Processes?

Every business has certain defined ways of transacting business. Often these transactions involve the collection of data on a paper form. The paper forms are then moved into various holding areas where the data is read, acted upon, and then stored. This process has many inefficiencies, quality control issues, and opportunities for failure.

When you mobilize business processes you are automating these steps, introducing electronic quality assurance measures, making this process much faster, and enabling all these processes to be completed automatically while you are out in the mud and rain on the jobsite.

For small business owners, mobilizing business processes often brings a sense of relief from the knowledge that the data was collected, transferred and stored all automatically. It is not dependent upon office staff to complete the work and do it right.

Job estimates, work orders, project updates, inspections, audits, product orders, etc., can all be completed on handheld PDAs, and then transferred to office database applications without human intervention.

You are extending your business software outside the office to the jobsite. You are enabling the person collecting the data to do it immediately at the site of the work that is being recorded. This improves the accuracy of the data, and allows for the complete collection of data at the source. If you wait to complete the paper forms until you return to the office, you often forget the details and no longer have access to the field data.

There is a concept taught in the book "e-Myth" that all business owners should be managing their companies as if they were going to "franchise" it. The point the author was making - set up your businesses so they are operated on repeatable business processes. Processes that can be defined, documented and automated if possible to avoid points of failure or possible errors or dependencies on staff. Mobilizing your business processes is a very efficient means to accomplishing this goal.