Automate with Business Process as a Service

Stefan Seufert, CTO/Vorstand EIKONA AG
Flowchart on yellow background which stands for transparency and automated processes through Business Process as a Service

In the field of data processing, outsourcing has a long tradition in the logistics industry. From the maintenance of systems to the provision of hardware to the operation of complete applications. Over the course of time, ever more far-reaching service levels have developed, which are summarised under the term managed services. The greatest scope of services is offered by entire business processes in which the sequence of work steps is automated with IT support. This transaction-based offering is called Business Process as a Service (BPaaS). It includes ready-modelled processes and software solutions with which service providers can directly operate competitively on the market.

Those who want to optimise their value chain work on establishing stable standards for recurring processes. In order to simplify these, individual process steps have always been supported and increasingly automated by software for specialised applications in the course of digitalisation, for example in the area of notification or yard management. The more thoroughly they are recorded and the more extensively they are integrated into the overall context, the larger sections of a task such software solutions can take over – up to complete business processes. If these are standardised to a high degree, more and more individual tasks can be automated up to the partial and full automation of entire business processes. If a business field is characterised by many such digitalised tasks, it can be automated to a particularly large extent. In logistics, for example, this is the case with the internal flow of goods in production plants or with the transport of packages of standardised size, for which fully automated storage and conveyor systems have been developed. But also in many other transport-related areas there are a large number of recurring tasks that can be mapped in a standard workflow.

Quickly implemented: Business Process as a Service

Transferring such subtasks to service providers is part of the essence of business process outsourcing (BPO). If these are also provided with process-supporting software, this not only enables integration within the company as well as across company boundaries. Then these solutions also allow process control and automation, for example in the area of notification. Here, the software solution takes over the agreement of a delivery date between the forwarder and the consignee without the need for the forwarder's employees to intervene. An additional plus for the logistics service provider in this scenario is that the responsibility for operating such process solutions as so-called managed services lies with the provider of the software, who also implements it in the existing IT landscape of the freight forwarder. A process that succeeds so quickly in particular because the IT service providers have developed scalable applications that are based on common process standards of the industry and only have to be adjusted to the individual circumstances by means of configuration for use in a specific company. In this way, companies in logistics are taking a further digitalisation step towards the implementation of end-to-end process solutions (E2E).

Business Process as a Service creates financial flexibility

In addition to the simple integration, BPaaS solutions impress with their cost structure. As on-demand applications, they only have to be paid for when they are actually used. In addition, they usually have scalable service levels from which the freight forwarders can choose according to their requirements. In addition, the solutions can be adapted much more quickly to current circumstances and thus shorten the time-to-market for new forwarding and logistics products. In combination with other service models for IT operations, they thus provide significantly more financial flexibility. The range of services includes these service variants:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): hardware systems
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): operational systems
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): pre-configured applications
  • Function as a Service (FaaS): serverless provision of results in specialised applications

Business process outsourcing via business process as a service includes both SaaS and FaaS solutions that are used in a task-oriented manner. Double benefit for logistics service providers: the services themselves are already designed by the provider with specialist logistics know-how and are also provided according to a high-availability model. This allows the users to focus on technical operations.

More transparency: Business Process as a Service closes gaps

Better information through end-to-end processes: Logistics service providers using BPaaS solutions bring accuracy to their data, creating transparency about their performance – and in particular closing the gaps in their supply chain through real-time communication at an extremely low total cost of ownership. A flexible concept that strengthens the competitiveness of logistics service providers. This is because the specialised applications replace process analysis and modelling with a preconfigured standard solution. That enables logistics companies to quickly take the next step, standardise processes, improve their efficiency and place new offers on the market more quickly. These are important factors that will enable medium-sized forwarding companies to maintain their position on an equal footing in the digitalised competition in the years to come.

Stefan Seufert
Stefan Seufert

As a design guru, the software developer delves into logistics service providers' requirements like no other. He is passionate about exchanging information securely and efficiently and thus speeding up the physical logistics process.

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