Process optimization - definition, practical examples and tools

Perhaps your company is facing these challenges:

  • Processing documents costs them time and energy.
  • The psychological strain on their employees due to unclear rights and responsibilities is increasing.
  • Decisions are often delayed and the quality of the results fluctuates.

Efficiency and productivity are crucial to keep up with the competition. Process optimization is therefore a key issue for companies. But how can companies optimize their processes and save time and resources at the same time?

Software tools such as Trello or Zapier are effective tools for facilitating planning and accelerating processes. Another possibility is the automated data extraction. The manual extraction of data is a time-consuming and error-prone process that can increase the workload of companies and the risk of errors. Automated extraction of data from invoices, contracts and other documents can help. This article looks at the definition and procedures for process optimization in your company.

What is process optimization?

Process optimization refers to the process of improving business operations to achieve a more efficient, productive and cost-effective way of working. It involves analyzing existing processes to identify and eliminate inefficient operations and bottlenecks.

Common methods of process optimization include the Six Sigma method, Lean Management and Kaizen. These methods focus on improving process quality through continuous monitoring, analysis, and adjustment of business processes.

What are the benefits of process optimization?

  1. Increased efficiency: This leads to faster handling of processes and thus to higher productivity.
  2. Cost reduction: By eliminating weak points and unnecessary steps, companies reduce the cost of carrying out processes.
  3. Increased customer satisfaction: Faster and more efficient processing of inquiries and orders leads to higher customer satisfaction. The quality of products and services is also increased through improved process optimization, which has a positive impact on the company's image.
  4. Competitive advantage: More efficient and cost-effective processes help companies respond more quickly and flexibly to changes in the market.

How does process optimization work?

One of the most widespread and simplest methods for process optimization is the so-called PDCA cycle. It consists of only four clear steps that are constantly repeated in order to permanently improve processes.

The PDCA cycle is a proven process optimization method for planning, testing and finally implementing improvement measures. The method was developed in the 1950s by a management consultant to find out why certain products or processes do not work as hoped. 

Essentially, the PDCA cycle is a continuous loop of planning, execution, review and action (Planning, Doing, Checking, and Acting). It provides a simple and effective approach to solving problems and managing change. 

How companies optimize processes

  1. Identify

    When a process is too costly or leads to customer dissatisfaction, identifying the root cause of these problems is critical.

  2. Plan (Plan)

    Determine the goals for a process and the changes needed to achieve them.

  3. Implement (Do)

    Once the implementation of a new or changed process is complete, you can analyze the results and make adjustments as needed. 

  4. Control (Check)

    This refers to monitoring the process after it has been successfully integrated so that the workflow can continue to be properly automated.

  5. Improve (Act)

    This refers to improving and automating the process across the workflow to check for desired outcomes.

5 software tools for process optimization

Process optimization is an important part of any effective business strategy to streamline operations, reduce costs and improve efficiency. Here are five software tools that can help optimize processes:

  • Konfuzio: Konfuzio is an AI-based process optimization software that automates business processes by analyzing unstructured data such as emails, PDFs and other documents. The software can help identify bottlenecks, reduce error rates, accelerate workflows, and streamline processes.
  • Trello: Trello is a visual organization and collaboration tool that can help streamline processes. The software allows you to organize projects and tasks into cards and create task lists. Trello offers an easy-to-use interface and is ideal for teams working in an agile manner.
  • Asana: Asana is another project management tool that can be helpful in process optimization. It offers a variety of features such as task and project management, schedules, team overviews, progress tracking, and more. Asana is ideal for teams that need to map and manage complex processes.
  • LeanKit: LeanKit is a visual management tool that can help optimize business processes. It provides a flexible workspace structure that facilitates collaboration between teams and allows quick and easy adaptation to changing business needs.
  • Zapier: Zapier is an automation platform that enables companies to automate processes by integrating various applications. The software can automatically perform tasks such as sending emails, creating notifications or updating data, helping to reduce human error and speed up workflows.

When it comes to choosing the right tool, the decision depends on the specific requirements of the company. When it comes to automating processes, Konfuzio can be a good choice. For teams that need to map and manage complex processes, Asana or LeanKit may be suitable. Trello may be useful for teams working in agile. Zapier may be suitable for organizations that need to integrate multiple applications to automate processes.

How automated data extraction supports process optimization

One of the most important aspects of process optimization is the processing of information and documents. Companies collect and store large amounts of data in various formats and systems. However, automatic processing and intelligent routing, e.g. through workflows, of data is a time-consuming and error-prone process that increases the workload of companies and the risk of errors. Konfuzio can use AI technology to extract data from various sources, such as emails, contracts, invoices and other documents. The extracted data is then put into a structured form and transferred to the desired target system.

By capturing your documents, such as invoices, handwritten bills, receipts, vehicle documents or cash receipts and automatically converting them into editable text files, they can be captured much faster and with fewer errors. The subsequent processing of the individual data in different departments in your company is much more efficient, as your employees can quickly search for specific terms. In this way, you can find the relevant document instead of having to read through individual documents.

By automating work processes, companies can work more efficiently and increase their productivity. In addition, Konfuzio's automated data extraction can help companies become more competitive by providing valuable insights into their data.

Use cases

Automated data extraction offers numerous use cases where companies can benefit from optimizing their business processes. Here are some examples:

  • invoice processing: Automate and process invoices automatically. This significantly reduces the manual workload and the error rate in invoice processing.
  • Contract managementKonfuzio reads contracts automatically and presents them to humans in a structured way. 5 documents are enough to train the AI and automate the data extraction.
  • Document management: automatic extraction, classification and checking of documents for errors and discrepancies.
  • Low-code email automation: Automatically extract and classify data from emails. So you never have to search for emails manually again.

FAQ

Why process optimization?

There are a number of events that indicate it is time to optimize business processes: Decisions are often delayed,
the quality of the results of processes fluctuates, the psychological strain on employees due to unregulated rights, duties and responsibilities has increased, or elementary work processes such as document processing require too much time and energy, coordination and consultation.

What are the goals of process optimization?

The main goal of process optimization is to reduce or eliminate wasted time and resources, unnecessary costs, bottlenecks, and errors while achieving the process objective. When optimizing a process, the goal is to maximize one or more of the process specifications while keeping all others within their constraints.

Why process optimization?

There are a number of events that indicate that it is time to optimize business processes: Decisions are often delayed, the quality of the results of processes fluctuates, the psychological strain on employees due to unregulated rights, duties and responsibilities has increased, or elementary work processes such as document processing require too much time and energy, coordination and consultation.

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Christoph Schleicher Avatar

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