Yaneek Page | Inefficient processes choking profits
The last quarter of the year is the period during which many companies and organisations are engaged in strategic planning for the new financial year.
Unfortunately, for many companies, the strategic planning process is so laser focused on expanding customer segments and increasing sales that it neglects one of the lowest hanging fruits to increase profitability: business process re-engineering.
Business process re-engineering is the practice of effecting a comprehensive review of existing processes against new best practices, global benchmarks, or radically new stretch targets. It is undoubtedly one of the most overlooked and underrated sources of increased profitability for local enterprises, particularly those in the MSME sector.
These profits would not only come from cost savings as companies improve efficiency and productivity, but also from increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty and reassigning underutilised resources to serve new markets, or deepen market penetration, for example.
This issue has not escaped the attention of our key international development partners such as the Inter-American Development Bank, IDB. In its recently released report titled "Planet Algorithm: Artificial Intelligence for a Predictive and Inclusive Form of Integration in Latin America", the IDB contends that artificial intelligence (AI) is a new factor of production that the region needs to invest in without delay and which could, in turn, increase the GDP of countries that do so by at least one per cent per annum.
A one per cent increase through implementation of AI alone would be nothing short of incredible. In fact, according to the report, "almost half of this increase comes from improvements in productivity as workers spend more time on tasks that add more value."
TIME WASTED ON PAPERWORK
The report also estimates that countries can cut down on the time wasted on paperwork by up to 75 per cent by simply applying artificial intelligence to government processes. In many cases, that 'time wasted on paperwork' also spells gross frustration and loss of productivity for taxpayers.
Case in point: a few weeks ago, a friend had the misfortune of losing one of their motor vehicle licence plates after navigating the flooded streets of Kingston. The process that now obtains to replace licence plates lost under such circumstances requires several steps:
Step 1: Report the lost plate to the nearest police station and obtain a document to take to the tax office.
Step 2: Visit the tax office and pay $2,500.00 (as lost document fee).
Step 3: Take the receipt for lost-document fee back to the police station, thereafter, a letter will be generated.
Step 4: Take letter from the police back to tax department and complete a form for replacement licence plates along with the original motor vehicle documents, etc.
Step 5: Pay $4,500 at the tax office for replacement plates and collect same.
Step 6: Take the new plate information to your insurance company to update your insurance documents.
To add to the complexity, when I called to verify the process, representatives of the tax office and the police had varying versions of the process.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this process for replacing lost motor vehicle licence plates is inefficient, repetitive, and urgently in need of re-engineering. It is likely that with the implementation of basic technological solutions, this process could be completed online and the plates sent by courier and a temporary plate - that is, an endorsed document from the tax office - could be generated and printed and kept in the driver's motor vehicle until the permanent plates arrive.
The savings to the country would be incredible. Just imagine what our government workers could do with that time - and equally important, the implications for productivity and customer experience for taxpayers.
The lesson for companies is the same: act now and strategically review and re-engineer your processes. The potential gains may astound you.
- Yaneek Page is an entrepreneur and trainer, and creator/executive producer of The Innovators TV series. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @yaneekpage