The term «small start,» often used in the business world, is a concept that can be applied to a wide range of areas, from reviewing lifestyle habits to launching a business. However, the meaning of the term can change slightly depending on the situation and individual perceptions.
Here we will explain small start methods that are useful for day-to-day operations, along with specific examples.
What is Small Start?
The term «small start» is used to describe a new business that starts with a limited service and gradually expands its scale depending on demand and other factors.
On the other hand, small start in business improvement activities such as streamlining of operations is often used in the sense of starting small from a part of the operation, as the term implies. In this article, we will discuss small start in business management and business improvement activities with the theme of business automation.
The Merits of Small Start
The main merit of a small start is that you can launch a project with reduced costs in terms of expenses, personnel and time.
Starting something big is risky, not only in business, but also in terms of cost, time, and effort.
On the other hand, starting small not only reduces the various costs associated with preparation and start-up management, but also makes it easier to make small changes and to withdraw from the project.
For example, when automating business operations, a small start would be to narrow down what you want to automate, and start with a straightforward approach to that part of the business.
In other words, small start has the advantage of being able to approach the most important points for improvement quickly.
Also, if the automation is focused on a specific point, even if a problem occurs, the scope of the problem will be limited.
Therefore, one of the advantages of starting small is that it is easy to achieve results through trial and error.
If the scope of the project is limited, the number of items that need to be shared within the team will also be reduced. The strength of a small start is that it lightens the burden on team members and makes it easier to obtain a common understanding, thereby facilitating smooth development after the start of the project.
Notes on Small Starts
However, even though the advantage of a small start is that you can approach quickly at a low cost, it is not recommended that you take a leap in the dark.
In the section above, we discussed how to focus on what you want to automate, but if you want to make your business more efficient through automation, it is important to first clarify your objectives and goals.
The purpose of the project should be clarified. Furthermore, set goals for how much and in what way you want to improve the business. These are the essential steps to take when starting small and implementing business improvement activities.
However, in order to set such objectives and goals it is necessary to have a clear understanding of what issues and problems exist in the business at the moment.
So how do we clarify these issues and problems?
Examples of Business Automation Using Small Starts
1. How Do I Clarify a Problem or Issue?
To clarify problems and issues latent in the business, we recommend that you first create a diagram of the business flow and look at it objectively.
The figure below is an example of a business process diagram drawn in BPMN notation. Roughly speaking, it is a business process diagram in which processes (tasks) are represented by rounded rectangles and connected by arrows.
By drawing such a diagram, it becomes clear who is doing what work and at what time, and it becomes easier to grasp the overall flow of work.
By going one step further and measuring the time spent in each process, the processing time per job, or the number of jobs processed in a given period of time, we can identify bottlenecks (the areas of greatest inefficiency, whether human, machine, or software) and other operational problems (this measurement process can be facilitated by using the workflow described in the next section).
2. How Can We Improve Our Operations?
Now that you have drawn a business process diagram and identified problems and issues, it is time to consider how to improve the business.
When selecting improvement measures, it is common to estimate the various costs and cost-effectiveness of implementation and choose a method that is appropriate for the current situation.
For example, the following measures could be taken to automate operations.
- Automate specific tasks with RPA tools
- Automate the progression of work with workflow
In case 1, a small start is made by automating one process in the business process with RPA tools. For example, a robot can be used to perform tasks such as data collection, processing, and extraction, which were previously performed by humans. If you follow the process of schematizing and measuring the business process as described above, you should be able to find the key points for introducing RPA tools.
On the other hand, in case 2, software called workflow is used to automate the entire workflow while visualizing the business process.
For example, if problems such as:
- Difficulty keeping track of the progress of work
- Time-consuming work handovers
are hindering the progress of your business, you can solve them by using workflow to manage your business. Workflow is software that manages work according to a business process diagram created on a PC, making it easy to grasp and share the progress of work. Workflow also automates the handing over of tasks, so work can proceed smoothly and efficiently.
Starting Small and Scaling Up
Since the idea of a small start is to start small and expand to the whole, it is very important to envision how to expand what has started small.
In the RPA example, the first way to scale would be to increase the number of processes and robots to be automated. This seems to be a reasonable approach if you have successfully implemented RPA tools by starting small. However, in this case the cost of increasing and managing the number of robots must be fully considered.
On the other hand, if workflow has been successfully used to automate a business process, it can be scaled to apply workflow to other processes or to link workflows together.
As mentioned in the above section, RPA tools can only automate partial tasks. Therefore, when introducing RPA tools it is also necessary to pay attention to the work transfer between the automated process and the process performed by humans. For example, if the time and effort required for a person to pass data to the RPA tool and the time and effort required for a person to receive the RPA deliverables are too great, it will be difficult to realize the benefits of the automation.
One way to solve these problems is to link workflow and RPA tools.
In other words, it adds the two methods described in the above section. Workflow can also automate the transfer of tasks between humans and RPA, thus avoiding the risk of increased workload when introducing RPA tools.
In addition, by integrating RPA tools and workflows it is possible to:
- Launch RPA from workflow at any point in the business process
- Automatically select and process tasks for RPA tools when they arrive
By making good use of these functions, small start business automation can be scaled up without any setbacks along the way.
Take the First Step to a Small Start with Questetra BPM Suite
We have discussed small starts using business automation as an example, but we hope you now understand that there are various perspectives from which to start small and expand the scope of your project as you see results.
The ideal small start approach to business improvement and streamlining is to directly approach problem areas and issues from a holistic perspective.
Now, the Questetra BPM Suite that we offer is what is known as a cloud-based workflow.
This cloud-based system can be used immediately after application and is suitable for a small start. Another advantage is that you can easily access and work with the same system as your office from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection.
Why don’t you take the first step to start small with Questetra BPM Suite, which you can try for free?
▼ You can also apply for a free trial here ▼