Why do companies try so hard to keep their business process automation improvements a secret? Automating business processes gives these firms a substantial competitive edge—enabling them to process transactions faster and more reliably, increase productivity, lower costs, get to market faster, serve customers better, and more.

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_133773500.jpgThese companies don’t want their competitors to know how they have gained these advantages. The competitors, meanwhile, can be surprised and shocked when they discover that a key competitor has gained significant advantages by automating its business processes.

When trailing companies do find out, they often make it a priority to close the gap. “We heard that one of our chief competitors has automated their loan process,” said a prominent financial firm. “We can’t let them keep that edge.”

This firm immediately brought in a team of ECM integration experts to analyze its business processes and formulate ECM solutions that would not only bring them up to par with their competitors in loan processing, but would give them an edge in other areas of the business.

That ECM automation yields a competitive advantage has been shown in studies by Aberdeen Group, PayStream Advisors, AIIM, and others.  Aberdeen Group’s findings show that Best-in-Class companies outperform their peers by deploying electronic invoicing and workflow for their accounts payable operations.

In the manufacturing sector, a leading firm was able to gain a significant edge by streamlining its sales order entry process.  Sales orders that had been processed manually are now processed electronically, which has enabled the company to ship faster and with far fewer errors. The system has produced greater customer satisfaction, accelerated revenues, and better inventory control.

Once you fall behind a competitor, it can be difficult to catch up. Firms that have gained a competitive edge often can further increase their advantages by enhancing the capabilities of existing systems, integrating with existing business systems, and extending automation to more areas of their business.

This is exactly what a number of our clients have done, adding new capabilities like workflow to existing systems, integrating with installed line-of-business applications such as ERP systems, and extending automation to new areas. Companies that have successfully automated claims processing, for example, have extended automation to their accounts payable and new customer onboarding processes.

Adding more comprehensive ECM capabilities also is what Aberdeen Group recommends to Best-in-Class companies to maintain and extend their competitive edge. This can be achieved by adding workflow, performing integration with financial and business systems, adding dashboards for reporting and analytics, and other improvements. “Maximizing the impact of automation,” says Aberdeen Group, “is the main goal.”

To learn more about gaining a competitive advantage using Enterprise Content Management (ECM), please contact the experts at Imaging Solutions to explore possibilities for your business.