Process control and automation
For centuries, businesses have sought to simplify, streamline and automate their business processes. Initially, the concept of automation was largely confined to the factory production line and it is only in recent decades that some of the principles of “time and motion studies” have been applied to transaction processing and information management.
Present day challenges, such as the diversity of business operations, globalisation and an increasing emphasis on compliance and risk management have complicated the task of process automation (and given a renewed focus on its benefits) but the drivers for change have remained largely unchanged. In the main, businesses seek to improve their business processes as a way of limiting costs, managing risk and improving responsiveness to a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, including regulators.
The inexorable pressure for cost reduction remains one of the principal drivers for increased automation. Shared service centres and outsourcing may be helpful to large-scale organisations but businesses of all sizes benefit from process automation. Not only do streamlined processes deliver immediate cost saving through productivity gains and reduced cost of error correction but they also provide a platform for growth without necessarily increasing cost. Implementing improved controls and auditability is also a key motive for automating business processes in any well managed business. Audit committees of quoted companies and large public-sector enterprises have a heightened awareness of risk management. They are much more likely to challenge management on the adequacy of their control environment.
Well-managed private companies of all sizes also seek to manage their risks through tighter controls. Well-designed and automated processes provide a perfect platform for planning and implementing appropriate controls. Unlike manual controls – which are susceptible to failure at any time – automatic controls, once properly established, tested and refined can be relied upon to deliver consistent levels of assurance.
Whilst many companies endeavour to introduce best-practice risk-management processes on a voluntary basis, others – depending on their industry and location – are driven to make changes by regulatory and compliance pressures. For example, Sarbanes-Oxley in the United States, the Code Tabaksblat in the Netherlands, IFRS, Basel II and the EU Accounts Modernisation Directive. Regardless of source, most companies recognise that automation and efficient processes are key to driving down the cost of compliance.
How can we help?
UNIT4 offers ERP-based or best-of-class software solutions that are designed to adapt easily to your organisation's structure and processes and keep step with them as they continue to change and evolve. With either approach, your users can benefit from a range of straightforward, highly effectlve tools that embed smarter process control and automation into their daily tasks and activities.