In increasingly competitive globalised markets, customers are usually a scarce resource. In order to win more customers, organisations undertake numerous efforts. Questioning operational processes and creating excellent customer journeys usually boil down to one keyword: processes. Or more specifically: end-to-end business processes. These need to be understood and efficiently designed within the company in order to meet or exceed the growing demands of the market.
Business process management is a sub-discipline of business administration in its own right, but it mostly has global significance for the entire company. The optimisation of processes is not a new discipline and has been used for decades as a promising means to increase productivity and profitability. But in our eyes, simple analysis and optimisation is not enough: the digitalisation and not least the automation of business processes should definitely be included in order to actually realise all the touted benefits of business process management.
Because if processes are already being revised and broken down and responsibilities distributed anyway, this is the perfect time to think about subsequent automation.
Not least for this reason, we include process analysis in all our projects, because automation and efficient business processes go hand in hand.
Against this background, we clarify what end-to-end business processes are in the first place, their importance for companies and explain how the iPaaS application Make can help with integration and automation using our own example process.
Definition: What are end-to-end business processes
End-to-end business processes mean nothing more than a process in the company that begins with the customers or is triggered by them and also ends there again. In between, there are numerous sub-processes that follow each other in time and usually run through the entire company with various departments and positions.
And where there are processes, there is usually room for their analysis and optimisation. In the case of end-to-end business processes, optimisation can have numerous positive effects because they are usually so all-encompassing and multi-layered:
An increase in quality
Reduction of variable and/or fixed costs
Acceleration of processes
Increasing profitability and productivity
Analysis and optimisation of end-to-end business processes
In the meantime, a whole field of business sub-areas has developed around business processes, not least business process management. In our eyes, the field of process optimisation is often overly complicated and peppered with terms that do not necessarily increase understanding. Nevertheless, the analysis and optimisation of business processes is an excellent way to clean up a company and ultimately to create a lean, efficient and automated process.
In the first step, it is usually useful to visualise a process. There are numerous methods for this, such as BPMN, which aim to depict a process, its responsibilities, time sequences and accountabilities. We also frequently experience that large and complex processes in particular can hardly be overviewed by a single person in the company.
The following questions are usually helpful in the analysis:
How is the process structured and which individual steps are necessary?
Which staff members carry out the process?
Can and is process performance measurement carried out?
Who is responsible for the process and its results? (Ownership)
Are the processes technologically supported or is this desired?
In the end-to-end business processes, there are usually so-called "touch points" at the beginning, i.e. points of contact with potential customers. These can be very different: Perhaps the person has received an impression of a Google Ad or Facebook Ad of your company or he/she hears about the company from friends and acquaintances. It is important to control all these touch points as well as possible to ensure that customers get the best possible impression of the company.
End-to-end also means that the process ends with the clients. In the following example, this means that after the project is completed, clients are always asked to evaluate the process in order to realise further improvements.
Efficient and optimised processes are not only indispensable in our eyes, but also the first step for their technological implementation and automation. Instead of providing technological support for individual sub-steps of the process, usually stand-alone in individual departments, Make offers the possibility to integrate the entire process across all departments.
Excursus: What is Make , explained with an example
Make is a so-called iPaaS tool. Here, Make has the function of a platform on which individual cloud applications and tools can be linked together. We define a trigger for the process. For example, an email is received with an invoice attached. Make scans the linked email account for this trigger by default.
If such an email is received in the next step, the invoice attached to the email can be automatically transferred to the accounting system, such as Lexoffice. Make thus performs a simple copy and paste task automatically by connecting Microsoft 365 and Lexoffice.
We have provided a more detailed explanation of Make here .
Automation of a business process: an example
We have implemented an end-to-end business process in our own company in such a way that we use Make as a supporting tool from the very beginning and thus create an optimised customer journey.
The process starts with the specific client request, which can come either by phone, email or our website form. Then everyone receives an automated email asking them to make an appointment by phone. The appointment booking is done via a cloud tool that is not only automatically synchronised with the respective staff member's own calendar, but also allows us to send further emails afterwards.
After booking an appointment, another automatic email is sent with preparatory questions for the telephone conversation. In this conversation we clarify the ideas, the reason for contacting us and possible implementation options in a joint project.
If this first conversation leads to a collaboration and a project is opened, Make enables us to create an efficient project process by connecting various cloud tools such as Airtable, Plutio and Microsoft 365, which we use. In this way, we can primarily concentrate on our main activities, the successful implementation of our clients' needs. We spend less time writing emails, submitting documents and files or, in the worst case, copy and paste tasks.
The mere analysis and optimisation of end-to-end business processes is already a step in the right direction, but in our eyes, the subsequent technical integration of the process is an important step that is often left out. If a process has already been turned upside down, optimised and simplified, the logical consequence should be to digitalise and automate it at the same time.
Make is particularly suitable for this because the modular view also provides an overview of the process. It looks like this (as an example):
At the latest when partial steps are to be automated on this interface, weak points or even redundant loops within a process quickly become apparent. These must then be eliminated. The advantages of this are virtually self-explanatory:
Saving staff time by eliminating redundant, manual process steps
Improve customer experiences and customer journeys
Increase productivity throughout the organisation
Conclusion: Automating end-to-end business processes as a means to success
Simplified end-to-end business processes offer numerous advantages for a company. However, they should not stop at their analysis and optimisation, but also consider their digitalisation and automation as part of business process management. The cloud tool Make is ideally suited for this due to its modular structure and the simple integration of numerous cloud applications. Weaknesses in the process can be identified and eliminated and the automation takes over redundant work and sub-steps, so that the employees have more time for value-adding activities.
We are happy to support you in the analysis and subsequent automation of business processes, explain possibilities and individually address the company processes.
Cloud Integration, iPaaS, SaaS, BPA… Ough, hard to keep track of all these terms. They are currently used frequently (and increasingly) in the context of automation, and it is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction and distinction. We have already written blog posts on the terms iPaaS, SaaS and BPA, but we’ll take them up again here to make the difference.
But let’s start with cloud integration, because that’s the central umbrella term in which we embed all the other technologies in this blog post.
To illustrate these advantages, an example is suitable that we know well from our everyday work as an automation agency:
The central data to be used here is the data of a major customer. This can be the simplest information, such as the address. This address is required in numerous but completely different processes in the company: on the one hand, for correct invoicing in accounting. On the other hand, in the CRM system, where all the data of the large customer is also stored. But the address is also important in sales, for example, when employees go to the sales meeting on site.
Now the customer announces that the address of the company has changed after a move. This information will reach you by e-mail. There are now two options:
01. The e-mail is forwarded to all affected departments, accounting, sales, customer service, marketing… All persons open their corresponding program, CRM, accounting software, marketing tools (such as newsletter marketing) and change the data already stored there of the customer. This means that in multiple applications, different people do exactly the same thing: change one address. 02. But there is also an alternative: By connecting your applications, thus by integrizing them, the customer’s e-mail, or rather the information it contains about the address change, is automatically passed on to all affected applications: CRM, accounting, marketing, ERP. This does not require any clicks, because the cloud integration detects a trigger, i.e. address change, and thus automatically starts the process.
What sounds unimpressive in a single process becomes more effective when such a process occurs several times a day or weekly. Because there is a lot of data that is available in different applications and should always be correct. If these applications are cloud applications they are suitable for cloud integration.
But cloud integration doesn’t just happen. There are now a variety of applications that enable and implement this. Such tools usually allow us to link the relevant cloud applications on a central platform and define clear rules on when, how, where, how much data should be passed on and what happens to them.
IPaaS, SaaS, BPA, ABC – who can still see through it?
To realize cloud integration, there are various applications and technologies that are sometimes used interchangeably.
Cloud integration cannot be done without SaaS, iPaaS and BPA
Cloud integration is rather an umbrella term that includes numerous technologies, such as SaaS, iPaaS and BPA, and this is also absolutely necessary. Cloud integration is a concept that is made possible by appropriate technologies.
However, all terms share the commonality that they are cloud-based and thus offer enormous potential for growth and scaling. In addition, they are often cheaper to implement and maintain because changed requirements are easy to implement.
As an independent automation agency, we implement cloud integration according to your requirements. We use a variety of SaaS tools and iPaas (strictly speaking BPA) software. Together we find individual solutions that are flexible and scalable.