August 15, 2022

Change whispering games to streamlined process? That’s how we did it

With paper prints along different departments to get approval. Email spreadsheets to finalize quotes. Not the most efficient methods. Yet it still happens very often. In this blog Ander van Poppel, consultant at BPM Company, explains how things can be done differently.

More efficient quotation procedure

When you think of manual approval steps, you don’t immediately think of large corporates. However, we discovered that many efficiency gains can be made there too. We were asked by a large, international telecom equipment company to take a closer look at their tender procedure. This is a company with a sales organization with about ten thousand people and quotations that run into the millions of euros. These offers have to be seen by various departments, including of course the sales team, but the team of technical experts and the legal department also have to have their say.

Whisper Game

Previously, the different teams exchanged information via spreadsheets. Those spreadsheets were converted into PDFs, so that nothing could be changed in the data. Those PDFs were shared through email. An inefficient and slow process, which is very sensitive to individual interpretation. Everyone makes some changes and at the end of the chain no one knows whether the outcome is correct. The whole process was somewhat like the infamous whispering game: all employees are of good will, but at the end of the chain all kinds of things go wrong.

Making approach transparent

Making this process more efficient isn’t even about automating at its core. The right approach must first be made clear. It starts with the input: who contributes what? Then the output follows: what is needed for a successful end product and who contributes to this? Another factor is the complexity and degree of control required before moving on to the next step. Just like in a production hall, quality control takes place before moving on to the follow-up process. In this case we have defined three classes of solutions. The first works for the simplest quotations, where all steps are clear and where no human intervention is required. Then there are offers with minor adjustments. Finally, the more complicated offers remain, on which experts have to shine their light.

Time to automate

Only when the approach is transparent is it time to start automating. With the end product in mind – a complete quote – we have drawn up a data model. Three layers of information are important in this regard: the content (which data should be included in the model exactly?), the progress (is the process progressing as it should or is it stagnating somewhere and if so, where?) and finally the quality report (is the information complete and correct?). With manual processes, you never know whether the information is interpreted correctly and conveyed carefully. Suppose the information says ’10’, then you do not know whether it is 10 liters or 10 kilos. By working with a data model you enforce how information is compiled. The information provider then indicates whether it concerns liters or kilos. Thanks to this approach, this customer can always be sure that the right – latest – version, in the right format, is in the hands of the right person, that the quotation procedure does not stagnate anywhere and that it arrives at the right place in the shortest possible time. With a management dashboard, managers also know immediately what the state of affairs is and what still needs to be managed.

Want to know more?

Curious about how we can automate manual approval steps with Pega? Would you like to know how we can even create pre-filled or fully automatic cases instead of e-mails and submit them to the right department for processing? Curious how Pega can help your organization? Feel free to contact us.