Business Automation

Every business has tasks and processes they have to complete on a daily, weekly, quarterly or annual basis. The question is not if you get them done it’s how you get them done? How long does it take? How many resources does it take? How many other parts of the business could you be focusing on if you could free up employees and computers?

So what is business automation? Our definition is that it’s a toolset that replaces those recurring tasks that your business does on a frequent basis with rules and logic. We design the user interface based on your needs. We then program the logic and rules and, if applicable, build the necessary support structure such as tables and output files. Other components of a business automation tool can interact with 3rd party systems as well ingest raw data either directly or through FTP.

The business automation tool can consist of a macro or formula driven spreadsheet, an access application or a full blown web based application. We specialize in building Excel front ends with SQL backends. This provides an incredibly powerful, scabale and interactive tool. Through the discovery process we can help you determine the best solution to fit your needs based on use and scalability.

That’s all well and good but what’s the process? How long does it take? Our process is pretty straight forward and involves 5 steps. The first step is the discovery. This allows us to build the scope of work and allows us to meet with the stakeholders who will have constant contact with the system. They’re input is invaluable because it allows us to identify all of the nuisances and particulars that don’t get identified through the discovery process. The second step is development. Once we have the full scope of work then we can start developing the final product. We provide constant updates and make sure you stay apprised of the status. The third step is testing. This is probably one of the most critical steps as it allows us to iron out any bugs and modify the product to better meet your needs. The fourth step involves training. We provide hands on training to make sure that everyone that will be using the product knows how. The fifth and final step is deployment. This occurs after the bugs have been ironed out and all stakeholders are trained.

Below are a couple case studies from projects we’ve worked on and the end results

Case Study 1 – Data Collection System

Problem: A company had very little visibility on exactly what it was purchasing. It has operations throughout the United States and thus uses over two dozen different suppliers.

Solution: Build a data collection system that would ingest the raw data from as many of the suppliers as possible. Each vendor provided the raw data in different formats so programming was required on each file to accept the data. In addition special mapping tables were needed to normalize the different values so the outputs would be the same. Build Excel dashboard reports linked to the data source that allow interactivity.

Results: Increased visibility on spend from around 5% to over 80% in 6 months. Over the course of 6 months was able to save the company a projected $200K through procurement decisions made through increased visibility. Was able to provide increased reporting to buyers, managers and executives that allowed more data driven decisions to be made.

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Case Study 2 – Dashboard Reporting

Problem: A company had labor intensive Excel spreadsheets that required hours each week to update. In addition there was no way to interact with the data at a granular level. Finally, due to the reporting structure there was no way to provide trending or historical information.

Solution: Build an Access database that could house all current and historical data. Next build a new Excel dashboard that could be linked directly to the Access database. This allowed new richer more interactive reporting to be created. Through the use of dropdown menus we were able to provide interactivity all the way down to a granular level. In addition because all of the data was now stored in a database we could provide trending that was not available previously.

Result: Provided a simpler way to ingest the weekly data report and update the weekly report. Reduced the time required to update the reports each week from several hours to minutes. This allowed the custodians of the report to respond to changes quicker and make more accurate decisions based on the data being provided.

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