Once you have decided which processes you’d like to automate, it is time to build your application. There are several ways to do this: you can deliver it all at once or break down the process into short time intervals, completing small steps every two or three weeks. No matter which route is right for you, at some point you will be ready to launch the first version.

In this blog, we’ll tell you how to go about it – and we’ll explain what’s next.

Going live: from first version to perfection

It is recommended that you launch the first version for a small number of preferred customers or suppliers who are thoroughly familiar with your company culture. By processing their feedback, you will eliminate major hurdles and inconveniences.

After doing so, you can make the application available to a larger group of users that continues to grow over time. Such a ‘phased launch’ is always preferred, as it avoids peak loads (which may occur when you receive all user feedback at once) and allows your organization to gradually switch to a new way of working.

Next steps: one idea leads to another

You are likely to notice potential connections to other systems during the development and launching process. Of course, you can try to incorporate these immediately, but often, it is wise to ensure that the application runs properly first.

Once it does, employees – even those who were initially skeptical about automation – will actually experience the benefits. For example, your application probably speeds up efficiency and eliminates the need for completing tedious manual tasks.

As a result, they will be on board with it. They might even come up with some fresh ideas for your next automation steps. And in this stage, it is easier to start new initiatives or make adjustments to your existing application, which is now running smoothly.

In conclusion, we’d like to repeat what we’ve said throughout this blog series: start small, so you’re able to show tangible results quickly. When selecting a process that will benefit from automation, opt for a department that adopts a welcoming attitude towards it.The rest of the organization will follow once you can show them the advantages of your application in practice!

Now that you’ve discovered your own processes and have a clear idea of processes that can benefit from automation, it is time to roll up your sleeves and get something tangible off the ground. In other words, it is time to automate your business. Answer these four questions and you’re off into the right direction.

1. Can you sketch an overall picture of your processes?

Many people don’t know much about company processes that extend beyond their own department. However, it is paramount to familiarize yourself with processes at the overarching organizational level. Only then, you will know who should do what at which time in a process.

Once you’ve acquired this information, you need to focus on the so-called happy flow: What do things look like when everything is going the way it should? Don’t focus on incidents that hardly ever occur. The effort and money spent on automating these incidents can cost you more than it saves.

Users are often happy with less and simpler options if it results in easier use of the system. Ask your stakeholders the question ‘how often does this occur’ and ‘how much time does it cost you to solve this by hand’, to really estimate the value of automating the step.

2. Why do people perform certain actions (and should you rethink these)?

If a process is carried out in a certain way ‘because that’s the way we’ve always done it,’ you might be holding on to an inefficient flow of actions. Try to track down and rethink such processes early on, because translating analogue or ineffective processes to digital versions is often a waste of time and money.

Sometimes, it is wise to eliminate certain steps or reverse the order in which things are done. A question like ‘Wouldn’t it be more efficient to do this much earlier in the process’ can be very helpful in optimizing the process. Be flexible in this regard, so you can truly benefit from automation.

3. What are your acceptance criteria?

What should the outcome of a process look like? As with the first question, it is important to leave out any details and focus on the big picture. Define a broad yet crisp-and-clear answer to this question to ensure that everyone involved understands the ultimate goal.

Of course, to achieve this, several smaller goals can be defined, for instance for each of the stakeholders.

4. Can you create a simple design to test it with stakeholders?

To explain your plan to all the stakeholders, break down your process into five to six steps (at most) and summarize it on a single page.  At this point, however, you don’t know what your application will look like, so make simple, tangible sketches to add further details to the steps.

This will allow stakeholders and/or key users to visualize the process and ask for any clarifications right away. For example, ask why a form field or button is at a certain place or stage in the application blue print. Not only is this a great way to test the waters with them, you also involve them from the very start, ensuring that they’re on board.

Last time, we wrote that discovering processes is an essential first step if you want to embrace automation. Once you’ve gone through the three-step plan that we described, you’re ready to answer the next question: Which processes will benefit from automation?

In this blog, we have listed five processes that commonly require automation!

1. Repetitive tasks

Every company has to deal with tasks that are repetitive in nature. For example, you probably have an on boarding process in place for new employees. This might encompass a variety of actions, such as setting up a new email account, creating a personnel file, and providing a new employee with company regulations.

If you create an application that takes care of, or reminds people of all these steps, including a check-mark list for must-do tasks, you will work more efficiently and save a tremendous amount of time.

2. Increased insight for customers and suppliers

Whether you’d like to increase the efficiency of your customer ordering process or your contact with suppliers, automation provides the answer. You can build virtually everything: from a web portal which always shows customers the current status of their shipment to an application providing suppliers with all parcel requirements (including codes and dimensions), which smoothly leads them through the shipment process.

3. Manual data entry work

Optimizing your customer service is always a good idea. If customers email you certain information, it is very inefficient and time consuming to manually enter it into your own system. It would make much more sense to provide customers with login data so they can register their questions, remarks, or complaints in a system, which allows you to respond faster.

Another benefit of this method, is that you automatically have a log of old items and it’s exchangeable between employees.

4. Focusing on people’s interests

Your employees are more likely to cooperate on automation projects if their own interests are involved. So try to find processes that would probably concern them, such as the submission of receipts for work-related expenses.

If you tell them to upload all receipts to your system by the end of the month so you can process these more easily and pay them sooner, it is a win-win situation: they will get paid on time and your accounting department saves time.

5. Deadline-sensitive processes

Wherever deadlines must be met, automation comes in handy. Suppose your quoting process involves multiple people who need to approve a variety of things, from price to delivery time.

As you don’t want to keep the customer waiting for a quote, you can make an application that sets approval deadlines and sends automatic reminders. This makes it much easier to meet your customer’s expectations!

Automation: you’ve heard all about it, and as a twenty-first century company, you want to embrace it. But where to start? In this blog series, we will guide you through the process step by step. First things first: you need to discover the processes in your organization. We’ve put together a three-step to-do list for you!

1. Organize a knowledge exchange meeting with key users

It’s important to sit down and ask yourself what you truly want to achieve with automation. Many decision-makers struggle with this question, because they are not the ones who encounter process-related issues on the work floor.

Therefore, you should organize a knowledge exchange meeting with key users on a regular basis – for example, every four to six weeks. These key users are employees who have been with the company for a while and who thoroughly understand the workings of the organization.

Not only will this allow you to obtain the required information on processes; it will also show employees how automation will help them improve their own processes and prevent problems elsewhere in the organization.

Another plus is that employees will not feel overlooked, which makes it easier to create support for change within the company.

2. Keep a list with points for improvement

There are always tedious or repetitive manual tasks that employees wish a computer could do. Additionally, a new product or service may require the implementation of a brand-new process. List all the points for improvement you can find and set completion deadlines for them, so you can move on to step 3.

3. Prioritize based on several factors

Now that you’ve mapped out all processes that will benefit from automation, you need to prioritize some and postpone others. When determining the value of automation, consider two factors: urgency and difficulty. If automating a process would save you a tremendous amount of time, do it.

However, you should always give precedence to an easy-to-automate process. If changing it is simple and saves a little time, give priority to it over a highly time-saving, but very time-consuming process.

Keep in mind that you are trying to improve customer and/or employee satisfaction. If you can show people the pros of change instantly and approach this change step by step, they will adopt a more welcoming attitude towards it.

Want to step up your game? Listen to fresh voices!

Of course, you need to listen carefully to seasoned employees who know your organization from the inside out. However, you should also take fresh voices into account. New employees often provide a unique look at your processes. They are not stuck in old habits and may spot things that no one else has thought about. Acknowledge their value by allowing them to share their perspective.

Wondering about the next step? We will tell you all about it in part 2!

Coordinating processes better without extra pressure on IT: it is possible. And supply chain management employees who act as a link between managers, suppliers, procurement, and other parties involved want to know how. Because it will save time- and costs, and boosts their efficiency.

As a Distribution Supplier Manager, I figured that a hassle-free software solution would do the trick for me. And it did, which I’d like to elaborate on in this blog!

Digitalizing inbound and outbound processes

On a daily basis, I am dealing with a variety of stakeholders. Reporting to managers, optimizing processes, informing suppliers, and ensuring that suppliers keep me up to date: it is all part of the job. Coordinating all the inbound and outbound processes involved in supply chain management, however, is no mean feat. So working with the right applications is paramount for me.

Flexibility and speed are essential characteristics of a software solution, and what I don’t want are months-long IT processes that slow down everything and beat down creativity.

The answer? Triggre. Since we’ve started using it, we are able to see virtually all of the parcels that we receive on a day-to-day basis, which we can translate to a better planning. Moreover, we can instantly check the purchase orders we received, which allows us to determine what products need to be cross-docked immediately.

With respect to outbound processes, Triggre has also made our work a lot easier. For example, by helping us classify and disclose all the shipping requirements by country and product, so every employee can ship products at the end of the day.

Naturally, all of this has resulted in a major advantage: happier, satisfied customers.

Trigger efficiency!

In my case, Triggre has proved that the right software can help me track and trace any purchase order, thus allowing us to create an efficient planning. I had been looking for flexible, easily adaptable, and hassle-free software for quite a while, and Triggre has provided the solution – by triggering and promoting efficiency with regard to our processes!

Guest Author: Adrie Dore

Every good solution starts with a brilliant idea. So if you have inspiration for a new software solution that will make your life easier, the last thing you want is the infamous ‘IT drag’ to spoil the fun. Stretched-out development stages, pompous IT talk, and constant hardware and software upgrades pose limitations to your creativity and efficiency. What you want – and need – is to realize your ideas in no time, so you can start benefiting from software without the hassle.

As an IT consultant, I am well aware of all this. Finding the right (software) solution, however, proved to be difficult.

That is, until I got acquainted with Triggre. In this blog, I would like to tell you about my experience with software creation minus the ‘IT drag.’ It has made my life – and that of the IT department – a whole lot easier!

From healthy skepticism to convincing test case

I will be honest with you. When Triggre first told me that it could provide us with cloud solutions which did not require any programming knowledge, I was as skeptical as I was curious. I invited them over, they explained their concept, and I took on the challenge of gaining a better understanding of their platform. Their test case surprised me: I was able to build an application faster than ever before. I went from scratch to finish in no time – hassle-free. It was an IT consultant’s dream. Triggre’s promises were not empty, and I was sold.

Working faster and more efficiently with Triggre’s tools

Today, our company is happily using several applications, such as an asset tool, a Harmonized Tariff code application, an Inbound Routing Guide, and an Outbound Routing Guide. The latter – which calculates transportation costs, additional costs like fuel, and ETA – deserves a special mention; it has eliminated over 20 Ms Access databases that had been created over a period of more than 20 years! With its ability to provide automated emails, alerts, and live reporting for management, it has allowed our employees to work faster, more efficiently, and more effectively. In due time, we will definitely introduce this ingenious application at a global level.

Flexible and carefree: even for IT!

Briefly put, I am happy with Triggre. Our greatest gain is that we can now make changes in no time. And we never have to worry about hardware or software upgrades again!

Guest author: John L’Espoir

A new movement is gaining ground in the business community, and it is based on one simple question: How can I make software without IT? People who understand processes should be able to roll up their sleeves and implement their ideas without having to walk the beaten IT path before getting tangible results. Their creativity should not be limited, so they will be more willing to innovate. In short, businesses want to be in control when it comes to software creation; and rightly so.

Today, virtually every company needs IT to provide a way to disclose core systems. For example, communicating with the ERP system used should be a breeze. To achieve this in a hassle-free way, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and managers alike should ask three key questions.

1. How can I take the hassle out of IT?

Cloud solutions ensure that you are completely unburdened, as they eliminate the well-known hardware and software hassles. If you want to be a part of the digital revolution, you need a solid cloud solution. Triggre will provide you with the entire cloud stack, which includes everything you require to run a web application in the cloud: from a server all the way down to the database software. This means that you can stop worrying about essential IT concerns such as security and data traffic, which are included. Instead, you can immediately start with the fun part: creating your own software, hassle free!

2. Which conditions should I set?

If you opt for a cloud solution, you should first assess what you need. In-house knowledge is not required – you can ‘outsource’ that part to your cloud solution provider – but it is important to have an ability to adjust where necessary. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and try to learn from every initiative, so you can improve over time. This often requires a shift in your company culture, but it is definitely worth it.

3. What kind of talent do I need?

 Business creatives who have a firm grasp of processes are indispensable. They are the ones who will take initiative, experiment, and come up with fresh ideas without having a fear of failure. In doing so, they will bring your employees closer together and provide what you need to survive as a business. It is important to realize that tomorrow’s team does not consist of all the people you work with today. If you want to innovate through software creation, you need to sketch a picture of what your business should look like in the (near) future and attract the right talent!

‘Digital revolution’ is a hot topic, especially for B2B companies. With the introduction of industry 4.0, increasingly more machines have been connected. But how can you capitalize this in terms of business?

Why bother about the digital revolution?

Suppose you are a supplier and your machines provide you with very valuable data. If you have the right software which can read out this data, you will be able to analyze it and predict how your machines will behave. This, in turn, means that you will be able to create effective maintenance and earning models as well as combine all data to serve your customers better – objectives that virtually all businesses aim to achieve.

To give you a clear picture of the importance of the digital revolution, we listed its three key advantages for you below. These explain why you should join ‘the movement!’

1. Zero touch

Basically, this means that you need less employees and can work more efficiently with the ones you do have as a result of automation. As the banking industry currently demonstrates, running your business with less people gives you the opportunity to work leaner, smarter, and faster. Once you digitalize your processes, the employees you hire will only be cream-of-the-crop people who can greatly improve their efficiency because automation supports them.

Additionally, don’t underestimate the benefit of empowering your customers: they demand to organize more things independently, and expect transparency on everything.

2. Improved planning and control cycles

The fact that machines, vehicles, and equipment yield data is very interesting, especially to industrial branches. Production lines and factory processes offer a wealth of data, which should be given a place in the digital landscape. If, for example, you send the data retrieved from systems and equipment to an ERP system, you can improve your planning of maintenance and control. This will ensure that you can close better, more cost-effective deals.

3. Digital business models

Say, you are selling agricultural machinery or maybe raw materials. In the old days, you would set up an office and hire great sales people to get on the road and meet your targets. However, things are different in this day and age. The majority of your prospects is aware of online information on prices. They will opt for a time saving way of purchasing, for example via their own customer portal.

So, how do you attract and convert new leads? You will need to create new, smart business models and develop digital tools to retrieve useful information from your online (sales) data.

What we are saying is: embrace the digital revolution. Use it for your business by gaining the insights you need, and you will be able to realize a significant boost!

It is safe to say that ‘digital enterprise’ has become a buzzword. At Triggre, we have noticed that increasingly more organizations are wondering how to digitalize their business models. Their key question: where should I start?

Digitization versus digitalization

First, let’s make an important distinction. A lot of things that business do may be digitized, but are not digitalized. Whereas digitization mostly refers to scanning paperwork and emailing it to others as Excels or PDFs, digitalization encompasses the process involving data that can be read out using a system. The latter is the more interesting of the two. So, what steps would you need to take to get there? The three steps listed below will get you off to a good start!

1. Data and ERP: let them communicate

Many companies have an ERP system in place. The main goal is to ensure some form of interaction with it. For example, if you have a website where customers can place an order, or if you own a machine-filled factory, you need to establish a link to your ERP system. To this end, you should ask yourself how you can best organize it and make it scalable. The point is that you need to do something with the data provided to you – be it by customers, suppliers, or machines.

2. Processes? Make them leaner!

If you need to deploy less tools, you will require less people and be more scalable. However, you will probably not want to start major replacement processes, as you have a lot on your plate and merely twenty-four hours a day. Therefore, it is crucial to improve by taking up one initiative at a time. Once you have successfully completed it, you can move on to the next one.

By working on processes in such short intervals, those involved will be able to witness how digitalization can help your company move forward. Consequently, you will grow efficiently, and everyone will be on board every step of the way.

3. It all starts with you (that is, your company)

If digitalization is your goal, you should come up with an internal process to deal with it. Your company needs a structure and company culture that support the quick development, testing, and going live of digital initiatives. Lean agility and speed are indispensable in this regard.

Lastly, keep in mind that you don’t have to be running a corporate to establish these things. Medium-sized business are increasingly preoccupied with digitalization. Today, it is relevant to everyone!

The paper leave process

When we first started our company we didn’t have any employees. But soon the first employee started, and with it came the administration of leave. Of course, this had to neatly be registered and agreed upon by management. So we created an Excel sheet that people could use to fill in their leave requests. The sheet automatically took into account weekends and holidays and it calculated the remaining number of vacation days for a person.

Employees would fill in their hours, print it and sign it. Then a manager would also sign it. The document would then be scanned and archived and the employee would also receive a copy of that scan by mail. Pretty cumbersome …

The good

This paper process took care of all the important aspects of a leave administration:

  • Requests were agreed upon by managers and employees
  • Managers could easily check that the number of (remaining) vacation days was correct
  • We had an administration of requests, and the granting of those requests

The bad

While the process had it’s pros, it definitely also had it’s cons:

  • Employees with ill-intent could remove granted vacation days in the past and re-use them
  • Printing, signing and scanning took a relatively long time
  • The process consumed ridiculous amounts of paper for what it achieved

How NOT to go digital

The simple way to handle going paperless would be to have employees digitally sign a PDF file and send that to their manager by email. The manager could then digitally sign that same document and that document could then be stored in the archive like before. A copy could also be sent to the employee to ensure they were always able to access it.

If you have experience with modern leave applications this perhaps has you laughing. However, many paper processes are actually digitized this way. The problem, of course, is that not all bad aspects of the paper process are solved and opportunities created by going digital are left unutilized.

Going digital the right way

One of the most common mistakes is made when we try to digitalize signatures. In many cases, there is no need for this. In the paper world signatures are used to make sure parties agree. But in a digital world, there are other options.

For our leave administration we created an application where all employees have an account. This account is simply accessible with their login that they use to login to their computers everyday. Access to this account is only available to that specific user, which can be leveraged to create an agreement between parties.

To understand how this works, you first need to know that each employee is automatically given the correct number of vacation days each year. The employee goes to the application, logs in and requests leave by selecting the days they want to take as vacation. The application doesn’t allow the user to request more vacation days than are left. The request is then stored and an email is sent to their manager.

Upon receiving the email, the manager logs in to the application where they see the leave request. They can now determine to accept or decline the request, knowing that it is impossible to request more days than the employee has left. When the manager has made his decision, he approves or declines the request and the employee is informed by email. No signatures needed.

The results

This digital process is faster, less susceptible to fraud and uses no paper at all. The same techniques can be used to digitalize other paper processes as well, as long as you avoid digitizing the paper process, instead think from a digital perspective.