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  • Writer's pictureNaoki Shibata

We are digitizing our operations

Updated: May 10, 2022

This is a story about PAPER-based applications such as manpower request, transfer request, leave request, internal quotation request, new supplier registration request, work and so on.

  • Need investment in printers, printing costs, and paper costs.

  • A lot of low value-added work is required, such as scanning papers, converting to pdf, inputting data to Excel files, and storing papers in files.

  • Applications cannot be approved outside the office when approvers are on holiday or travels, so the approval flows halt.

  • Application forms are often lost, and approval cannot be completed.

  • Nobody knows where the application forms are, nobody tracks how far the approval flow has progressed.

We are sure that you have experienced the similar problems with paper-based applications.

We, as well, or rather, our company, which had a lot of paper-based work, wanted to improve even more than you do, and we decided to digitize our application processes from 2017.

When we actually started digitizing, we found that some approval tasks that used to take a week or more could be reduced to as little as two hours, and some of the problems mentioned above could be improved.

However, as we gradually moved forward with digitization, we realized that it is not necessary to digitize everything.

We also discovered that we were wasting a lot of time developing applications to digitize tasks that "were actually just recording data, but the data was not utilized for the further improvement, and the papers were just stored for a long time at somewhere in the warehouse. Now, before development, we analyze whether the application is really necessary to digitize.

The digitized applications also reduce the amount of manual input since event time and input person information can be entered automatically, and can also shorten the data input process since some information can be inputted by single button click from dropdown menu, radio buttons.

We also realized that combination of some tools such as no coding app development platform, automation tools, and BI tools (We use Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI from Microsoft365 (formerly known as Office365)) can be more convenient. For example, if internal purchase applications amount is US$10,000 or more, an escalated approval flow can be altered automatically, or a branch can be created to notify escalated persons.

After all, the greatest benefit of digitization is that data can be reused immediately at anywhere.

We are developing applications at our Thai branch and spread it to all group companies in Japan, Thailand, India, and Mexico, which means not only reducing development costs and maintenance costs, but also able to standardize operations among the group companies at the same time.

Our IT engineers now develop more than 30 digitized applications annually, and we are now able to complete developing simple smartphone applications in a few hours.

We will continue to develop and launch applications to reduce operation costs.


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