Automation is not a new concept. Technology has been automating manual processes in our generation for decades. The washing machine replaced the washboard, revolutionizing how we do our laundry. Online banking made it possible to access our accounts and pay bills anytime day or night.
Mobile technology makes patient information readily available for healthcare workers, improving the level of care and patient experience. Workflow automation eliminates costly, time consuming tasks, making room for innovation and efficiency. Here’s how to get started.
The hardest part of making the switch from manual to automated processes is knowing where to begin. Start by identifying three things your teams do on a regular basis on paper or in spreadsheets.
Don’t forget to look at any daily or weekly scheduled meetings that occur to discuss approvals and escalations. List who this information is shared with, how often the information is shared, and determine what happens with the approvals and escalations after the paper sign off. How do you then drive results?
This is a great organizational self-evaluation exercise. Often times when we take a hard look at what we do and why we do it, the answer is because “that’s just the way it has always been done” or even worse — “we really aren’t sure why.”
You have the list, now what? Consolidate and rank. Organizations can see a tremendous benefit from automating manual processes, but some processes just don’t make sense to automate right away.
At the top of my list, I would include any processes that present the most risk or loss to my organization, with those that utilize the most resources coming in a close second. Wouldn’t it be nice to eliminate the top three to five items on this list?
It’s time to get started plugging in workflow that automatically distributes and drives the hand offs and data collection. This would free up more time for resources to focus on the results.
Workflow is repeatable. Its repetitive nature provides organizational consistency, improves quality, decreases risk of forgetting steps, and eliminates unnecessary redundancy. I know, repetition can be boring, but it is essential!
Here’s where the fun begins! It’s time to automate those items you identified and prioritized above. Before you start automating, take a look at the answers to the who, what, and why questions you asked yourself during the identification process. Review the process.
Can it be simplified? Are all the steps needed? Do we need to do it the same way or is there a better way to get to the same result? Don’t automate just to automate. Take a look at why you have to use spreadsheets. What gap is that spreadsheet filling?
Use this time to automate and innovate the way your business operates. Replace data entry with automatic imports and task triggers. Eliminate manual hand-offs with automated work distribution, assignment of tasks, workload balancing, and movement of actions from one person or group to another. Think operational efficiency.
You’ve automated your high priority manual processes, now it’s time to continue down the prioritized list. Better yet, repeat the process. Newly automated processes may shed light on other manual processes that didn’t make the list last time.
Keep going! Plugging in workflow that automatically distributes or makes data collection smart will not interrupt your business. It will seamlessly start improving your approach.
Automation is a marathon, not a sprint. It is an iterative process with benefits at each round. If you hang out at the water stops, others will pass you. Keep a steady pace and you will reach the finish line ahead of your competition.
Jane Mason, Founder and CEO
Jane has applied her vast experience (over 25 years) operating process-driven businesses to successfully redefine client-focused service. Jane has worked with expert programmers to apply cutting-edge web-based technology to automate complex processes in industries such as Financial Services, Healthcare and enterprise workflow. Her vision confirms Clarifire's trajectory as a successful, scaling, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider. A University of South Florida graduate, Jane has received many awards related to her entrepreneurial skills.
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