Gravit-e Blog

July 24, 2015

What Is Business Process Automation?

Business-process-automation

 

Business Process Automation (BPA) refers to the use of technology to automate activities and workflow. BPA involves implementing software applications to automate redundant, routine business tasks through initiation, execution, completion, and reporting to support better organizational workflow.

BPA gives businesses the opportunity to improve their processes in terms of time and quality. Through automation, errors associated with manual processes such as data entry are eliminated as is the time spent entering them. When BPA is applied to existing processes it typically can be implemented quite quickly with immediate ROI. In addition so saving time and money, BPA boosts productivity by allowing staff to focus their talents on more important areas.

BPA is focused on three core principles: orchestration, integration, and execution. Orchestration involves allowing organizations building systems that provide centralized management of their software and computing architecture. Integration involves combining applications to allow them to share information and reduce data entry. Automated execution aims to eliminate or drastically reduce the need for human involvement in specific business tasks.

Processes That Are Often Automated

BPA can applied to virtually any aspect of a business, but it is more common in some areas than others such as:

  • Document Management
  • Email Alerts
  • Client Management
  • Marketing
  • Customer Support
  • Administrative Tasks
  • Accounts Payable
  • HR Onboarding

The Difference Between BPA and BPM

Business Process Management (BPM) involves an evaluation of the overall methodology behind the business processes and workflows themselves. BPM is a more comprehensive approach concerned with improving efficiency, adapting to changing business needs, and clarifying job roles and responsibilities. BPA is often part of an overall BPM strategy, though its implementation often takes longer due to a more human-centric approach. 

July 21, 2015

Gravit-e Summer Staff Retreat

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We had our annual summer staff retreat on Friday and we were blessed with a perfect Vancouver day. This year we chose to defy gravit-e (haha) by hiking the Grouse Grind, a gruelling 1-2 hour hike that runs straight up the North Shore's famous Grouse Mountain.  It's a pretty rigorous hike, so it was no surprise that a few members of the crew opted to take the Gondola rather than do the grind. We all met at the top and enjoyed a group lunch with spectacular views. 

We then proceeded to take a couple of helitours that gave us great views of Vancouver, the Cypress Bowl, and the two Lions peaks.

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It was a great way to celebrate another year of developing great software for businesses and startups, our expansion into a new office, and do some team building to gear up for the busy autumn ahead. 

A special thanks to Gravit-e's CEO, Nick Oostveen, for the spectacular day.

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July 16, 2015

How To Communicate Effectively With Software Development Teams

Developer-joke

 

If you're hiring a developer or software development company to build your software, it's most often because you don't have the expertise or time to build it yourself. While many entrepreneurs are experts at describing their vision in a business context, they may be lacking the detailed description necessary for developers. In order to ensure that your end product is what you had imagined, communication is key. 

The ability to communicate well with non-technical people is one of the hallmark traits of a star-developer/development team. Here are a few tips on how to communicate throughout your development project in order to obtain the stellar software you had in mind:

Provide Detailed Documentation

The more detailed your description and documentation the better your developers will understand your vision. The most important element of a software development project to document in detail is the user interface (UI). The UI shows the developer where data should be displayed and how it should be formatted.

Use Examples

A great place to start describing your vision is by giving your developers examples of websites you like, but be sure to articulate exactly which features you wish to emulate and how they are relevant to your project. Including competitor websites and defining what you like and dislike about them can also assist in painting a clearer picture for your developers. 

Define Input and Output

Clearly define actions that can be taken by users and what the expected result will be. This will ensure that your software operates as planned without surprises. Include business use cases for how the software will operate in specific situations (refunds, cancellations, etc.)

Wireframes and Prototypes

A wireframe acts as a visual blueprint of a website. A prototype is a series of click-through wireframes that illustrate website functionality. You don't need to be a computer whiz to put together wireframes. You can put together simple wireframes using power point or use more detailed programs such as Omnigraffle and Balsamiq.

Avoid Feature Creep

When building software to serve a particular purpose it is easy to let your mind run wild when it comes to features, the possibilities are endless. However, the more features you have the more time and money the project will consume. Ensure you have a good reason for each particular feature you intend to have built and that they are something that will actually be used by your target users.

Maintain Deadlines

First and foremost, set realistic deadlines and be sure you and your developers can meet them. Ensure that you provide feedback and information promptly to avoid bottlenecks and project delays. Avoid announcing a launch date until you're close to product completion or you may risk having to publicly post-pone. 

Stay Involved

Quickly respond to questions and be available by email. This can curtail lag in meeting development milestones. Ask to see how the software is progressing, if something doesn't fit with what you had in mind it is easier to fix if it is noticed sooner rather than later. In many cases, something will make sense to the developer who coded it but not the average user. Testing the software throughout the project can help you spot changes you'd like to make right away and keep your development team on the right track. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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