New technology is fun and exciting! Making the transition from manual to automated processes can be an energizing endeavor for any organization. The opportunities available are endless, which can also make the move a bit intimidating. It doesn’t have to be! It’s all in the planning.
Adopting process automation technology is more than just plug and play. It eliminates costly, time consuming tasks so careful thought and planning needs to go into your approach and implementation to achieve the best results. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your automation be. Here are 4 phases of planning to help ease your transition from manual to automated processes.
Identify Your Manual Processes
Before you can start to automate your manual processes, you need a list of what those processes are. So the first phase is to identify the manual processes within your organization. Here you can take a hard look at how your organization operates on a daily basis. 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”.
Questions to ask during the Identification Phase:
- What is the process?
- What does this process accomplish?
- Who is involved in the process?
- What are the inputs/outputs to this process?
- What decisions are made during the process?
- Who is the information shared with and how often?
Evaluate the Need to Automate
While there are definitely benefits to automation, there are some situations where the gains don’t outweigh the cost and effort. During the evaluation phase you will take a look at your list of manual processes and evaluate the pros and cons to automation. This phase is where you will determine the benefits your organization will realize transitioning from a manual to automated process.
Questions to ask during the Evaluation Phase:
- What is your goal for automation?
- What is the benefit of automating this process?
- What problem do you anticipate to solve with automation?
- What is the impact of this process?
- Do we need this process?
- How many resources are needed for the process and how long does it take them to complete it?
Prioritize Processes for Automation
Now let’s put some organization around that list. Remember, we aren’t going for the big bang theory approach. Take a look at your list of processes to automate and determine what makes sense to automate now, and what gets tackled later. At the top of your list should be any processes that present the most risk or loss to your organization. Then following behind should be those that utilize the most resources. Here’s where you take out the low hanging fruit and see a quick increase in efficiency.
Questions to ask during the Prioritization Phase:
- Which processes depend on paper documents?
- Which processes are prone to human error?
- Which processes present the most risk to my organization?
- Which processes take up the most time to execute?
- Which processes consume the most resources?
- Which processes utilize manual hand-offs?
Here’s where the real fun begins! You have an inventory of your manual processes. You’ve evaluated each one for its automation potential. All processes tagged for automation were prioritized for implementation. Now you get to automate! However, don’t just simply automate the process. Use this time to automate and innovate the way your business operates. Just because you’ve always done something the same old way for years, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
Questions to ask during the Automation Phase:
- Can the process be simplified?
- Are all steps in the process needed?
- Do we need to automate the entire process?
- Is there a better way to execute this process with the same result?
Automation is an iterative process. Keep this 4 phase approach handy. As your organization starts to reap the benefits of automation, you will want to take another look for new opportunities for innovation and efficiency. There is no such thing as a perfect process. There is always room for continuous improvement.
As you can see, there is a little more to automating manual processes than just flipping a switch. With a methodical approach and the right analysis, automation can be all your organization needs to take a fresh look at the way you operate. Process automation technology is there to ease the effort needed to get work done. Embrace the change and have a little fun with it!
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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.