06/21/2016 - The High Cost of Inefficient Automation
So you’re looking to automate. Great! Eliminating paper forms and manual processes can deliv... read more >>

So you’re looking to automate. Great! Eliminating paper forms and manual processes can deliver huge benefits.  However, if automation is not done well, it can perpetuate inefficiencies with work and fail to reduce operating costs.

What are you looking to achieve by automating? Are you looking to reduce time and effort for your users? Save money? Improve efficiency? Eliminate errors? All of the above? If your answer is YES to any of these, it’s important to carefully consider the automation tool that you’re using.

For PeopleSoft users, there are plenty of options available to create electronic forms including:

  • Custom PeopleSoft development

  • PeopleSoft Forms and Approval Builder (“FAB”)

  • Non-PeopleSoft form tools (e.g. Perceptive, OnBase)

  • GT eForms™ (a PeopleTools-based bolt-on).

With any of these solutions, it’s important to recognize how far you can take the tool – where delivered functionality ends and custom development begins. For example, as a delivered PeopleSoft tool, FAB enables functional analysts to create their own forms.  However, FAB is essentially limited to putting fields on a page, setting up basic prompts, and defining a simple approval path. Anything beyond that is going to require custom development.

For years Gideon Taylor has been helping organizations efficiently and intelligently automate business processes. It’s not uncommon for us to encounter paper forms that can take users more than half an hour to complete. If those users are managers earning $70,000/year, each form is costing the organization over $16 to complete.

Let’s say your organization has 500 managers, and each manager completes five of those forms each month. That’s $40,000/month or $480,000/year in time spent filling out forms. Those figures don’t include the time to review, edit, enter, and file hard copies of those forms, all of which could more than double the cost per form. This scenario only accounts for one type of form. How many other forms does your organization use?

It’s tempting to look at automating complex processes like these because they can deliver the greatest return. But complex processes require robust solutions. Can you get there with your form-building tool?

If you’re limited to putting fields on a page, giving users a few basic prompts, and setting up a simple approval path, how much time are you actually saving the person completing the form? If your electronic form requires them to manually fill-in all of the same fields as the old paper form, is this new ‘online’ process any more efficient, effective, or accurate?  Optimistically, let’s say this reduces time/cost/effort by 5% per form because the person is a fast typist and they don’t have to use ‘sneaker-net’ to route the form for approval. That’s still a hefty cost of $456,000 per year to process your form, even AFTER you’ve automated it.

Now compare that to being able to create an intelligent electronic form that can simplify and streamline the process, doing much of the work itself. How much time could be saved? How much more accurate would your process be? How about your data?

Let’s now assume you have a PeopleSoft-based form builder that enables you to design an intelligent eForm which automatically populates relevant data when it’s launched (e.g. the name, ID, contact information, and department of the person initiating the form). The form automatically fills-in information about the ‘subject’ of your form (e.g. by selecting the name of an employee for a job change, the form populates with information about that employee’s current job, department, pay, supervisor, etc). The lookups in this ultra-efficient form only show the user the data specifically relevant to the department in which they work and the action they’re executing. Your form is also smart enough to conditionally displays certain fields and sections based on your unique business requirements or the user’s role in the process.

That’s the kind of form that can rock your world. One that can intelligently walk users through the process, completing whole sections automatically, validating data as it goes, routing to the right people at the right time, firing off email notifications, and then automatically updating PeopleSoft. Instead of 30 minutes, it takes 5 to complete. The impact? That savings of 25 MINUTES PER FORM is racking up savings of $420,000 per year. KA-CHING!

So, how can you make the most out of your next automation initiative? Take a look at your processes. Consider the manual effort required today and what could be achieved with intelligent eForm automation. Then, choose the right tool. It will make all the difference.

Written by Scott Antin, VP, Business Development
Copyright (c) 2016 Gideon Taylor Consulting, All Rights Reserved.

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