– Article Updated: March 2022 –
Creating the Foundation for Business Process Automation
Let’s talk executive to executive. You need business process automation. Have you heard the term before? Does it sound like buzz words to you? It did to me too, but automating tasks that are low-skill, repetitive, and better suited to technology will give you real benefits.
- Saving you and your team time, so all can do more strategic things
- Saving money, by not having people take on things they’re not passionate about
- Reducing risk, as certain tasks are best left to software that makes fewer mistakes and doesn’t get tired. Additionally, having an electronic audit trail is a bonus.
Getting Started with Business Process Automation
What I’ve learned
Getting started with this concept of business process automation, or BPA, in our own business took time. Here are a few things our team learned from doing this at Convverge. I hope our growth here might save you some time and make your journey to a more automated workplace as enjoyable as possible.
- AUTOMATE SOMETHING. Pick a task and automate it. Simple. No doubt there are many options to choose from. Here is a couple for your consideration:
- Approved financial expenditure (AFE) request processes
- Collecting electronic signatures for important documents and storing them in a secure place
- Approving employee expenses or paid time off request
- START SMALL. Often larger and more complicated processes and workflows are going to be your biggest wins. However, these are also harder to tackle, and like anything, you want to practice first. Therefore, to start, thinking simple with BPA is best.
- CREATE A “FOUNDATION” PROJECT. Next, break ground on your initial BPA project and get ready to learn a lot, fast. Document as much as possible. Anything that goes right, or wrong is going to help you save costs later. By leveraging lessons learned from your foundation project(s) you will avoid pitfalls and increase your likelihood for success with your larger vision for automation. You can call it whatever you like but I like ‘foundation project’ instead of Proof of Concept (POC) or experiment. It’s a small point but I often worry that calling it an experiment or POC might bias people into believing it’s not going to be a long-term business investment, or worse that it’s okay to fail. What you learn here is going to form the foundation for your business process automation, so why not think of it as such?
- TALK ABOUT IT. In my experience, there are likely 5-10 obvious workflows to tackle (see point 1), but you need to be collaborating with your internal teams. Process automation, when done well, can spread like wildfire. Who wouldn’t want to have their job made easier and have the company better for it? You can try and plan out your strategy for BPA, but a better way is to get people to tell you what they want and need. Secure their buy-in early!
- MEASURE THROUGHPUT. There are numerous ways to measure your performance, and you’ll want to try to capture a baseline on whatever metrics you deem appropriate before you introduce the automation. I say try because manual processes are often hard to quantify. A huge advantage of automation (especially when coupled with a measurement or BI tool like Power BI) is that they are so so SO easily tracked and monitored. Common Measurements:
- Number of transactions (times you do something)
- Time required for each transaction
- People involved
- Incomplete transactions (process started but never completed)
- Ratings like employees’ feelings towards the transaction or their perceived technical complexity rating
With many options available to us, there isn’t “one way” to approach the introduction of new innovative ideas and technology into an organization. The barrier to modernization has never been smaller with tools like SharePoint, Forms, Power Automate, and Power BI advancing at lightspeed. The question is becoming less what do I use, and more how do I make these tools work best for me?
If there’s any insight I can share in helping you get ready to lay the foundation for process automation, please reach out – I always welcome chatting over coffee.
– Eric Veenendaal, Principal Consultant & President
Convverge | Business Process Automation Services
When it comes to tackling those bottlenecks in a business those highly repetitive, slow, manual tasks and processes are prime to be streamlined and automated. The reality though is that many of our clients aren’t always certain where to start when thinking about how to automate a process or which tools to use to do it. There’s good news though, as that is the place where our team of BPA experts like to start. Our people love to work alongside you to understand the nuances of your business so they can help you confidently identify the best business and technology opportunities. From there, they aim to support you in documenting and refreshing a process with the right tech toolsets and outfitting your team with the support they need to succeed. Not to mention always keeping the end goal in mind, which is greatly improving the work experiences for your broader team. If this idea around BPA is piquing your interest, let’s talk.