Automation vs. Optimization Revisited

A couple of years ago I was expounding on the differences between automation and optimization. Automating something takes out the human factor and therefore provides consistency, faster speed and reduction in errors. Optimization made things even better by providing something impactful. I was specifically relating all of this to business processes. As an example, automating a typically challenging process such as Accounts Payable to convert all incoming invoices into an electronic format will speed performance and significantly reduce errors. It will also go a long way in reducing paper and provide support for any corporate sustainability initiatives a company may have. So, here one part of the AP process has been automated, then what? What more can you automate or apply that will improve the entire process? How do you make what you’ve done really pay off? Optimization, of course. By that I meant, and still do, adding the level of sophistication that increases overall productivity and provides accurate information for decision-making. Optimize the process so that workflows really ‘flow’ through the organization; that the now electronic document is forwarded quickly anywhere in the world, and approvals and other exceptions take minutes or hours, not days. That a click of a button will tell you where every document is within the process and that management can have information real-time so decisions can be made with all the facts. Although optimization is the objective when it comes to improving business processes, I am no longer looking at Automation and Optimization as having an adversarial relationship. Without automation, could there be optimization? And since optimization—getting the most that you can from your business processes—is the objective, then we should be looking at process improvements holistically and not merely for part of the process. The benefits of a truly optimized AP process can turn a cost center into an asset. The benefits include:

  • Enhanced cash flows
  • Risk mitigation
  • Improved productivity
  • 360-degree visibility into the process
  • Lower total cost of ownership
Learn how two Dolphin customers, a pharmaceutical and healthcare market research services provider and a large electric and gas distribution utility, utilized AP optimization to save time, money and frustration.

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Automation vs. Optimization Revisited

A couple of years ago I was expounding on the differences between automation and optimization. Automating something takes out the human factor and therefore provides consistency, faster speed and reduction in errors. Optimization made things even better by providing something impactful.

I was specifically relating all of this to business processes. As an example, automating a typically challenging process such as Accounts Payable to convert all incoming invoices into an electronic format will speed performance and significantly reduce errors. It will also go a long way in reducing paper and provide support for any corporate sustainability initiatives a company may have.

So, here one part of the AP process has been automated, then what? What more can you automate or apply that will improve the entire process? How do you make what you’ve done really pay off?

Optimization, of course. By that I meant, and still do, adding the level of sophistication that increases overall productivity and provides accurate information for decision-making. Optimize the process so that workflows really ‘flow’ through the organization; that the now electronic document is forwarded quickly anywhere in the world, and approvals and other exceptions take minutes or hours, not days. That a click of a button will tell you where every document is within the process and that management can have information real-time so decisions can be made with all the facts.

Although optimization is the objective when it comes to improving business processes, I am no longer looking at Automation and Optimization as having an adversarial relationship. Without automation, could there be optimization? And since optimization—getting the most that you can from your business processes—is the objective, then we should be looking at process improvements holistically and not merely for part of the process.

The benefits of a truly optimized AP process can turn a cost center into an asset. The benefits include:

  • Enhanced cash flows
  • Risk mitigation
  • Improved productivity
  • 360-degree visibility into the process
  • Lower total cost of ownership

Learn how two Dolphin customers, a pharmaceutical and healthcare market research services provider and a large electric and gas distribution utility, utilized AP optimization to save time, money and frustration.