3 Steps to Make Business Process Automation Easier

People have been automating business processes since business was invented. But process automation is hard to get right. Here’s why.

(Being curious creatures, we always seek better ways to do things – and business process reengineering is just the latest example). It improves efficiency, productivity, the customer experience, employee satisfaction – and ultimately, the bottom line. But process automation is hard to get right. This is why – and this is what you can do to make it easier and more successful.

It’s a simple 3-step process. 1) figure out what’s possible, 2) reimagine the way you’re doing things now, and 3) bring your people with you.

Step 1: Figure out what’s possible.

How do you know what technology can do? What’s even possible?!

Most people choose a software solution a bit like your dad used to choose a route to drive to the seaside: because that’s the only way they know how to get there! So how do you find out what technology can do – and more importantly, what it can do for you? Let’s face it, there are a lot of solutions out there – and a lot of empty promises!

What to do next:

It’s time to get your research hat on, my friend. Talk to people that have done it, obviously check out the internet, and ask questions (Twitter, LinkedIn and forums are great for that). But don’t restrict yourself to looking for one answer – you might find that your research can actually take you in a direction that you weren’t expecting.

How to do it:

I prefer to get advice from the people who’ve been there and done it. Matt Cook’s blog, for example:http://softwaremoneypit.com/ is a good place to start, as he’s had a lot of experience implementing projects that are big or small and can help you to identify the mistakes not to make. Matt’s written some blogs for us at OmPrompt, and here’s a good one to get you started:http://blog.omprompt.com/why-process-automation-is-hard-to-achieve-with-software-changes.

Step 2: Reimagine the way you’re doing things now

Let’s not forget – process automation normally starts by focusing on existing processes. This means that when most companies think about automation, they try to automate their existing process. This is a mistake, as often the process itself is part of the problem.

What to do next:

Instead of trying to find technology that mirrors your existing process, start with the desired outcomes instead. Use the knowledge from your existing teams. Once you know where you are trying to end up, it’s much easier to work out how to get there.

How to do it:

Michael Hammer and James Champy, the founders of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) in the 90’s, suggest there are 7 principles to follow. You can review those here, http://www.entrepreneurial-insights.com/business-competitive-business-process-reengineering-bpr/, along with some good examples of successful business process automation in practice. Take what makes sense to your business or function, and discard what isn’t relevant.

Step 3: Bring your people with you

How do you make people WANT to change the way they deal with processes?

Once you’ve identified the processes you want to automate, played with them to make them more efficient, and found some technology or a service that can help you to achieve it: you have to implement it. One of the big issues now is that you might find your employees getting grumpy. It’s hard to understand why, sometimes, when you’re trying to improve things for the benefit of the customer and think you’re making their life easier at the same time.

What to do next:

Realise that, unfortunately, change isn’t always easy. Bringing people along with software and process change is a common challenge, and usually communication is both the problem AND the solution. Next time, explain right at the start what you’re trying to do, and why. Reassure people that they don’t need to worry about their jobs with all this automation going on.

How to do it:

If you want to get your employees excited, talk to them about the new ways in which they’ll be empowered to make intelligent decisions as a result of the time they now don’t need to spend on low-value tasks. Watch this great Ted Talk for inspiration,http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_our_loss_of_wisdom#t-446027.

Or if change is the issue (in case you haven’t already read it), seek out the book ‘Who Moved my Cheese’ by Spencer Johnson (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Who-Moved-My-Cheese-Amazing/dp/0091816971), or if you’re too busy just watch this fun YouTube video instead,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDNhEYpBPbY.

Business process improvement in general isn’t always easy – and process automation can require even more adjustment. So to conclude, I’d say: don’t just try and automate what you already have, think about the possibilities. Do some research about what could be possible. And bring your people with you along the way. It’s possible to change processes for the better, but to actually give people more time to do what they do best – serve your customers. Find out more about how OmPrompt can help by downloading ‘5 Ways to Make your Consumer Goods Customers’ Smile’ – and the same document for your Healthcare customers.

Source: omprompt- 3 Steps to Make Business Process Automation Easier

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