Process Automation in Your Company — When, Why, & How?
Many businesses have failed to harness their full potential because they fail to answer when, why, and how to utilize process automation in the company. Regardless of where you are in your journey to process automation, answering the questions above will lay down the foundation for initiating your automation program, or taking corrective actions for automation gone wrong.
When do I need process automation?
This is the first question that you need an answer to. As your business grows, your processes will show signs of problems. Issues like high employee churn, uncontrolled revenue leakage, alarming customer attrition rate, and so on may crop up.
A likely mistake that all of us make here is attributing the blame to other factors rather than the lack of process automation without systematically analyzing the suspects. If your analysis indicates that one or more major roadblocks in your way to achieving your goal can’t be removed through any remedy other than automation, then it’s time to answer the next question.
Why do I need process automation?
You may have found the culprit for the symptoms above to be the lack of process automation, but you will need compelling reasons to convince all the stakeholders to initiate a process automation project. So, here is a list of incredible things that your business can gain through automation.
1. The first step towards digital transformation
Automating a single process can be your first step towards a complete digital transformation of your business. And the first step is always the most intimidating one. You aren’t expected to do it right the first time. With some trial & error & perseverance, you will be alright. However, once you have automated one or more processes, you will create a culture which will pave the way for future automation projects & ultimately complete digitization.
2. Insights & clarity
The absence of clarity is a symptom of a lack of process automation. This part is remedied in the initial steps of automation when you create a process map. Process mapping clearly identifies the tasks & people involved in the process. It gives you powerful insights which can help you identify & fill the gaps in your process.
3. Optimized process
The most important thing that you gain is obviously the primary objective of your automation project, i.e., streamlining the concerned process. A successful automation endeavor optimizes your process by eliminating unnecessary activities, establishes clear accountability, brings forth valuable insights, & greatly enhances turnaround times.
4. Demonstrating compliance
I’m sure that you’ll agree with me if I tell you that year-end audits are always a big headache. Well, automation can make your business’ audit journey a breeze. You can easily demonstrate your compliance with an automated process easily due to the amount of transparency & insights available with it.
5. Standardized outcomes
When you automate your processes, you standardize their outcomes. Delivering consistent results every time makes you more reliable in the eyes of customers. In effect, your reputation improves & your customer base expands.
Now that we have found answers to the first two questions, let’s answer the last one.
How to Implement Process Automation?
Broadly speaking, you can divide the activity of implementing process automation into 4 steps:
1. Mapping Out Operational Processes
This is always the first step of any automation effort. Begin by identifying the pain points within different teams, departments, and the entire organization. Based on results, identify the workflows that need automation. The majority of problems will pivot around areas of collaboration, like reporting, approvals, and so on. So pay special attention there.
Creating a map of operational processes will give you a clear picture of the bottlenecks in the processes & what needs to be done to eliminate them.
2. Define Your Objectives
Once you have identified issues within a process, you must define your objectives. In broader terms, your objective should be to implement a solution that can best manage the current process but is future-proof i.e., scalable at the same time. Identify which inefficiencies make the biggest impact on your business because fixing those first will make more sense.
3. Identify Key Players
A process map gives you a clear picture of the role of every person involved in the process, but you need to communicate this to them. Therefore, it is important that you outline the key players, identify the specific tasks in the workflow, and make them aware of their critical role through an effective communication plan. This will help you build momentum for your automation solution.
4. Isolate Shortcomings
Thoroughly analyze your current solution and find out the gaps in the process where you think automation can help. Use process automation to fill such gaps.
The first step is always the most challenging one, but once you have successfully automated a process, doing so again to other processes in the future will be easier.
If an automation initiative still feels like a hassle, you can leave your worries to a professional automation services provider that can handle your process automation end-to-end.