Business Process Automation: Where to Begin

Matt McClintock May 4, 2017 Automation

business process automation

Simply stated, business process automation increases consistency, improves quality, and reduces the likelihood of rework. Instead of spending time manually tracking task completion, you can rely on business process level automation to handle workflow so you can focus on core functions of production. However, even those who are convinced of these benefits run into a challenge when it comes to making the transition. As with any major project, it can be difficult to decide where to start. This post gives you a roadmap for the successful planning, design, and implementation of your system.

Consult with the Experts

Leaders generally have a basic understanding of production steps. But the employees actually doing the work are the true experts. Before you begin any business automation project, spend time with staff members, i.e. the stakeholders, to gather comprehensive, start-to-finish process details. This ensures that you are not spending time automating out-of-date processes or missing critical steps that were previously undocumented.

Talking with your employees accomplishes other important objectives as well. For example, those who do the job every day can often point out areas that lack efficiency. Ask for a wish-list of process improvements that would make staff members’ lives easier. In most cases, you will gain insight into pain points that can be resolved during business process automation.

Finally, these conversations are crucial to managing change. By gathering feedback and acting on staff recommendations, you are offering employees an opportunity to own the new operating model. This sense of ownership increases buy-in for the workflow automation project as a whole. This means you can look forward to maintaining or increasing engagement and support for the project’s end result.

Go Big, Win Big

Over time, habits turn into official work processes whether or not they are the most effective way to complete the work. Be open to the possibility of rebuilding processes from the ground up as you move towards business process automation. While gathering information about existing process flow, you may discover that your employees take different paths to reach the same goal. Consider all of the options and choose the solution that is most efficient at producing high-quality results.

As you work through the project, make sure to check in with your employees as part of the change management process. In many cases, staff members are invested in their current methods and are resistant to process changes. When speaking with your employees, reinforce the idea that everything is on the table when it comes to simplifying your processes. Explain that the result could be a revolution instead of an evolution.

Be sensitive to your staff members’ concerns about the process changes. Be sure to make a commitment to transparency. You will encounter less resistance to the implementation of automation by explaining the reasons behind the project and the specific benefits. Discuss the overhaul of practices that may have been in place for years. Tie the conversation back to the pain points you identified in the first step of the project. Remind staff members that simplification of these activities means fewer transactional tasks and more opportunity to spend time on meaningful, satisfying work.

Early Successes Build Confidence

The eventual success or failure of your project is determined by the effectiveness of your BPM tools and the willingness of your staff to use them. The first requires high-quality BPM software. The second requires the implementation of proven organizational change techniques. At the top of the list is building confidence through early wins. Show the benefits of your business process automation plans close to the project start. You can get buy-in from key stakeholders and influencers, gaining support through the future development and implementation of digital workflow software.

Choose which process to automate first with care. It should be something that touches a large number of people so that improvements are sure to be noticed. For example, are there processes that span multiple departments? The more people who benefit from the process automation, the greater support you will have going forward.

You want to begin with a process that offers widespread benefit. Though it should also be a process that is relatively simple. There may be some bumps in the road as you automate more complex processes. Thus, it is best to avoid any flaws in your inaugural product. Significant business disruptions at the start of your long-term project have the potential to derail any future process automation plans.

Remember that processes can always be adjusted as you receive feedback from users. So it isn’t necessary to achieve perfection on your first try. Perfection is the enemy of the good. And a good process that is developed on time and within the budget will be embraced by your key stakeholders.

Business process automation is taking organizations of all sizes to the next level when it comes to quality and efficiency of production. You can learn more about ProcessMaker’s business process automation software and the companies that are using it today on our success stories page. Our clients span multiple industries: colleges and universities, K-12 schools and administrators, financial and insurance service providers, government agencies, healthcare providers, manufacturing companies and telecommunications providers.

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