Tag Archives: BPO

Business Processes Part 3 – Actions Post Implementation

Once the business case has been made for the introduction of processes and relevant systems have been identified for automation, the final stage is to implement the processes themselves. Whether the processes are for a small business, or a multinational corporation, the post implementation guidelines remain roughly the same:

Business Processes

  • Let the process grow and adapt. Process outlines which remain too rigid cannot scale as business needs change. By all means formalise the process, but allow the opportunity for future organic change and enhancements.
  • Involve others in process creation and implementation creating a shared ownership and common vision for improvement. Doing this will also overcome many of the political barriers which could otherwise prevent process realisation.
  • Maintain a culture of continual improvement. There is always room for the creation of new processes or the refinement of existing ones. Incremental changes will keep processes relevant to business needs and prevent them from becoming a hindrance in future.

Any process, internal or external, can help a business increase its levels of efficiency, but attempting a one-time, big-bang implementation is unlikely to have the permanent benefits desired. Processes need to be frequently revisited to allow for the identification of smaller improvements which will keep the process relevant. Changes in business model, customer demands or supplier will all necessitate changes to business processes – inflexible and infrequent analysis of processes will preclude this.

The responsibility for implementation of processes generally lies with management, but ultimately, all staff should be encouraged to participate in a continual process improvement.

Processes can exist as part of a supply chain management system, or as an internal operating procedure.  The scope is virtually limitless. Clearly, where computerised automation is required, a suitable platform will need to be sourced which provides the necessary framework in addition to flexibility for future refinements. Why not give Celtrino a call to discuss the Smart Admin platform and how it could help with your business process implementation projects?


Business Processes Part 2 – What can be made into a process?

We saw in the first instalment of this three part overview of business processes that implementation of processes carries a number of benefits based around creating efficiencies through de-duplication of effort. Having established the ‘why’, we can now shift the focus to the ‘what’.

Business Processes Typically, anything that is done more than once in any workflow becomes a candidate for conversion into a process. Look carefully at each sector of your business and identify where particular actions are repeated, taking in the smaller details as well as the larger picture; when designing processes there is nothing wrong with starting small. From the way in which a component is fabricated, down to the transfer of incoming mail onto a computerised accounts system, each department of any business has areas where efficiencies could be created by automating repetitive tasks.

Traditionally, processes are broken into two categories, Top/Down processes that address high level tasks, and Bottom/Up that automate lower level issues. Top/Down processes are created to be more general, providing a flexible guideline for completing a larger task, essentially directing the way in which a task is to be completed without specifying the exact steps to be taken. Acting almost like goals, Top/Down processes help define the ‘big picture’ and the steps required to make the final goal.

A Bottom/Up process however is far more prescriptive, acting like a recipe for the specific steps required to complete a smaller task. Typically, Bottom/Up processes, by their very design, are less flexible than their Top/Down counterparts, although it is possible to create some room for minor adjustments. Bottom/Up processes define the smaller steps required to maintain the Top/Down overview and goals.

Once potential processes have been identified, they should be implemented as soon as possible to reap the benefits immediately.

In the final part of this series we will examine the nature of ongoing process improvement.

Electronic Invoicing – You Have to Go the Whole Hog

Electronic Invoicing – You Have to Go the Whole Hog he flexible nature of electronic invoicing allows for a phased approach, moving a tranche of accounts at a time and creating a hybrid system of physical and electronic accounts paperwork. For the small to medium business, such a system is workable but for the larger enterprise completely impossible.

For any business running physical and electronic invoicing systems in tandem, the overhead of managing such a workflow places a huge additional burden on accounts staff and thereby reduces many of the cost benefits associated with e-Invoicing. The greatest single motivator for migration to electronic invoicing tends to be the promised financial savings of the medium; if these savings are being reduced because of inefficiencies, your business loses out.

Electronic invoicing also provides a way to centralise accounts records, drawing information which would normally be held on a departmental basis into a single repository. Cash flow information can finally be retrieved immediately easing business decisions and allowing for a more agile trading model.

So although the hybrid system may work for a while, the overall goal must be a total switch to electronic invoicing. This goal may be easier to achieve in some industries than others, but with careful planning and by securing the agreement of suppliers and customers, any business can eventually manage total migration.

Unfortunately there will always be a level of resistance to change from certain key suppliers, much of which is caused by ignorance of e-Invoicing and the fact that suppliers also stand to reap benefits from electronic invoicing. Successful supplier on-boarding should therefore be a consideration when choosing a platform for electronic invoicing; if the supplier of your invoicing system can assist, so much the better.

Fortunately Celtrino are masters of outsourcing electronic invoicing services and uniting supply chains for the mutual benefit of all involved. If you need help going the whole hog with your e-Invoicing roll-out, please get in touch – we’re happy to help!

Key People in the Supply Chain

The strength of any supply chain is the people involved. There are people on the assembly making goods, other people deliver those goods to customers, and yet more people complete the required administration at each part of the process. By their very presence it is obvious that everyone in the supply chain is vital. However as with any chain, the supply chain is only as strong as weakest link. In the supply chain the weakest link is almost invariably the people.

Often, breaks in the supply chain are accidental or caused by a lack of personal ownership, as with the ‘Dockets in Pockets’ syndrome. Employees regard their responsibilities in isolation, failing to recognise that their casual negligence can have much wider implications for the business as a whole.Chain

Other times supply chains grind to a halt because a key staff member is away on annual leave and the employees operating in their absence lack the required skills or training to complete the job accurately. Tasks are then either left undone or done incorrectly, increasing the time and effort required to rectify the situation. Delays in the supply chain cause delays in payment, reducing cash flow and negatively affecting future transactions.

Occasionally issues can be caused by a disgruntled employee using their knowledge to maliciously damage the chain and their employer’s business. Feeding deliberate misinformation, or obstructing certain key transactions and interactions can have a major impact on a company and the other businesses in their supply chain.

So although everyone is key to the supply chain, they also have the potential to introduce significant problems into the process too. The solution is to automate as many of these links as possible, reducing the chances of introducing operator error into the chain and keeping each transaction moving as smoothly as possible. Using the principles of Business Process Outsourcing and Supply Chain Management, many of these potential people-related problems can be avoided, increasing efficiencies, reducing costs and allowing employees to focus on doing their jobs, rather than on administration.

And although costs savings can be made within a single business, the benefits can be shared up and down the supply chain by implementing a suitable hosted system which can be accessed by them all. Celtrino’s Smart Admin platform provides an interface for businesses at every point in the supply chain through which they can automate many of their transactions.

People will always be key to the supply chain, but there is no harm in investing to reduce manual administration and human error.


Supply Chain Integration Introduction Part 5 – The Future

For businesses looking to implement their first supply chain integration systems, or those looking to improve that which they already have, the future of the methodology will remain of interest. The continued explosion of hosted systems (also known as Software as a Service – SaaS), has already begun to radically alter the supply chain integration landscape.

As discussed elsewhere throughout this short series of articles, supply chain integration is currently a job requiring extensive (expensive) expertise due to the complexities inherent in joining multiple computer systems. As with most technological advances, implementation of integrations should get inherently easier as on-site complexity is reduced. Suppliers will be faced with the choice of rolling out the exact same ERP system in each of their own businesses, or to outsource the EDI functions required to communicate between disparate systems to a third-party.The Future written on the white board

As cloud-based software and services continue to mature, the use of on-site systems becomes more expensive and effectively redundant. By outsourcing functions to the cloud such as invoicing and billing, businesses immediately benefit from a reduction in complexity and duplicated effort. An ideal Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) platform will take input from any ERP or accounting system, as Celtrino’s Smart Admin product does, and seamlessly convert and transfer the data to a receiving system. The onus for translation and EDI connectivity becomes the responsibility of the hosted service provider.

In such a scenario, the cloud service provider configures and maintains the EDI connectors for the systems of all of their service users, for the same subscription fee. The clients are then able to make savings on the costs of hiring EDI consultants every time a reconfiguration of the data interchange layout is required.

Business Process Outsourcing as part of a Supply Chain Integration is a hot topic and looks set to remain so for some time. As demand for BPO increases, service providers will be forced to further tune and improve their offerings. All this is great news for the customer and their customers in turn.

If you would like to know more about how Celtrino’s Smart Admin platform can be used to assist your business in Supply Chain Integration, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Supply Chain Integration Part 1

Supply Chain Integration Part 2

Supply Chain Integration Part 3

Supply Chain Integration Part 4


Supply Chain Integration Part 4 – Best Practice

Best Practice written on a white boardThe recognition that supply chain integration with your suppliers and partners is of paramount importance is the first step in a sometimes challenging and complex process. Each member of a supply chain has their own way of doing things, using a variety of different systems which at first glance are probably not fully interoperable.

Despite being a “standard” Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI as it is known for short, there are many minute variations and tweaks required in order for one computer system to “talk” to another. As a result, reconfiguration will have to take place at each supplier to allow for smooth communications. EDI setup and maintenance is an expert job and being time intensive, is also costly. As a result the use of an outsourced service which does the required EDI translations automatically is preferable.

The use of an externally hosted Electronic Invoice Presentment and Payment (EIPP) system allows every member of the supply chain to integrate their payment systems for maximum compatibility, whilst retaining complete autonomy over their own data and in house processes. During the supply chain integration process, companies can choose to enable as much or as little interchange as they desire. Obviously the more interchange permitted, the greater the on-going cost savings through a reduction in labour costs that would be accrued through manual processing of the same actions.

Clearly the complexities of such an integration is outside the experience (or interest) of most businesses and so they will need to secure the services of a specialist consultancy. Here are three suggestions to help when choosing:

  1. A proven track record in successful completion of supply chain integration. Any company you consider should have verifiable testimonials from previous customers and reference sites which can be visited for first-hand verification.
  2. Experience in trading community onboarding. Integration projects deal not only with system interoperability, but also the political issues raised by bringing together businesses with differing values and ethics.
  3. The ability to make integration as simple as possible with the minimum of disruption for any member of the supply chain.

In the light of these suggestions, expertise in supply chain integration is just one facet of the decision process. The technology and methodology used is just as important with on and off site implementations of supply chain integration. Clearly Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) options which see the EDI services hosted externally are preferable in terms of scalability, speed of deployment and minimisation of disruption – all data interchange is performed externally with minimal local reconfiguration required.


Supply Chain Integration Part 1

Supply Chain Integration Part 2

Supply Chain Integration Part 3

Supply Chain Integration Part 5

Supply Chain Integration Part 3 – How?

Our previous article discussed the benefits of supply chain integration, but we also mentioned a number of potential hurdles to success. This time we will look at how a group of businesses should go about completing the process.Supply Chain Integration Part 3 - How?

New systems cost a lot

An unfortunate truism – new computer systems and processes do indeed cost. There are both time and financial implications to changing the way a business implements changes to their processes and it is therefore prudent to consider such costs before making any fundamental alterations. During that review process however, you must also consider the return on investment; in the case of supply chain integration, ROI should be significantly greater than the outlay for all members of the chain.

Inter-company politics scupper integration

The way in which different businesses work often conflict with those who are trying to partner with them causing frustration and misunderstanding. The integration of computer systems  can breed suspicion and lead to projects failing early on. It is therefore essential that every member of the supply chain is fully supportive of the integration efforts and that there is a mutual understanding that the implementation is designed to benefit everyone. Keep stakeholders focused by reiterating the bottom-line benefits on a regular basis.

Hosted systems can solve both dilemmas

Using a hosted system, such as Celtrino’s Smart Admin however will help to mitigate both of these problems. Using business process outsourcing, companies need only pay a subscription to use the service – it is up to the service provider to make the investments in hardware and software to make the service a reality. By using a hosted system, all members of the supply chain pay towards the service and only ever pay for what they actually use. Such an approach immediately reduces the likelihood of overspend during the implementation phase.

The use of an external, third-party hosted system also helps to make reduce the potential friction caused by integrating sensitive business systems by removing responsibility for it’s management from any single member of the supply chain. Smart Admin is designed to foster transparency between members of it’s P2P business portals and as a result, helps to increase transparency throughout each transaction. Transparency breeds trust so that in the end, everyone wins.


Supply Chain Integration Part 1

Supply Chain Integration Part 2

Supply Chain Integration Part 4

Supply Chain Integration Part 5


Gartner Report Predicts Continued Growth In Business Process Outsourcing

Technology research giant Gartner has released a series of estimates predicting the worldwide growth rates of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). According to their report “Forecast Analysis: Business Process Outsourcing, 2010-2015, 2Q11 Update”, Gartner now calculate the BPO market will grow by 6.3% worldwide during 2011, slowing to 5% in 2012.Business Process Outsourcing

Cathy Tornbohm, research vice president at Gartner commented on the report’s findings saying, “Emerging markets are faring far better and, generally, multinational companies continue to look to BPO as a means both to reduce costs and to buoy their business operations during the protracted return to a growth environment. We also see an increase in transaction volume, especially in payroll, recruiting, accounts payable, and customer data analytics and knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) activities.”

Tornbohm was speaking in reaction to a weaker growth prediction for the North American region which is traditionally the world’s largest. Gartner put North American growth at just 3.8% which has had a negative effect on the total worldwide growth estimate.

The Western Europe market is expected to see continued demand from businesses for outsourced services in the CRM and finance and accounting domains. Gartner predict an annual growth rate of 8.9%, well above that of North America, but also lower than could be expected due to various cultural barriers slowing uptake.

The continued growth of the Asia/Pacific market however continues to outstrip expectations with BPO growth estimated at 17.9% in 2011 alone. Gartner have noted that almost every process which can be outsourced will grow in demand throughout the region until at least 2015, with a heavy demand for financial and accounting services and billing processes.

Latin America Business Process Outsourcing is also expected to grow at a healthy 14.7 percent as local subsidiaries of global corporations begin rollouts of integrated systems, causing a knock-on uptake by domestic businesses. Local labour rates remain relatively low in Latin America slowing uptake of BPO, although major investment by service providers looks set to change this situation.

Overall, Gartner suggest that the future growth of BPO looks relatively healthy in the coming years.

De-Duplicating Effort

Letter O in the De-duplicating Effort articlene of the easiest ways to waste time, and therefore money, is to repeat an activity. Some office tasks such as stapling or stamping require repetition, but business process automation should cover those that don’t.

Take invoicing for instance. A common scenario sees your supplier manually creating an invoice, carrying out a mail merge from their accounts system before posting a printed copy to your accounts payable department. Your accounts department then manually enters the details from the printed invoice into your accounts system. They recheck each line on the invoice to ensure that the entered details are correct and flag the transaction up for payment.

During this process, the purchase details have to be manually entered twice. This is duplicated effort which costs both supplier and buyer time, increasing supply chain costs. The supplier has to factor those costs into their prices, as does the buyer.

By implementing an electronic invoicing and purchase order portal management system from Celtrino however, the data re-entry is negated. The invoice is sent directly from the supplier’s accounts system to the buyer’s via the Celtrino platform. The supplier also receives automatic acknowledgement of the invoice’s delivery. Immediately time has been saved for both parties, reducing costs across the board.

An added benefit of the Celtrino offering is that there is less room for human error to cause problems. What happens if the invoice received by the buyer has got wet in the post and the ink has smudged, rendering the line item costs difficult to read? If the accounts clerk enters the wrong details, a payment dispute will ensue, requiring even more time and money to resolve. The electronically submitted invoice however is quickly and accurately interpreted by the Celtrino electronic invoice processing component and entered correctly ready for payment.

The process also works on the purchasing level, allowing a buyer to submit electronic purchase orders directly into their supplier’s accounts receivable system via the Celtrino platform. No more duplicated work for accounts departments and no more data entry issues, means reduced costs all round.