5 Mistakes of Process Automation (and ways to fix them)
Work automation can be very promising for an organization. If done right, it offers such advantages as improved speed, quality, and productivity. It helps reduce costs by cutting hours of manual labor and adds accuracy to all tasks. However, automation often turns into a challenge. It can even become a waste of your time, money and energy without any result. Why is this? Keep reading to find out five common mistakes that organizations make when automating their business processes.
Mistake # 1: Undefined goals.
Just before you kick off, ask yourself a question: “What is the purpose for automating?” Are you trying to reduce costs by reducing the number of manual operation? Are you looking for increased process speed? Maybe you want to automate your processes to make them more predictable and thus less risky.
If you don´t define goals beforehand you are not only risking to waste your money but to reduce the rate of business development, which means lost opportunities and lost profit.
Conclusion: It is important to have crystal clear objectives before the get-go. You should understand whether the expected results of the automation correspond to the strategy and mission of your organization. Also, define ways to achieve the goals that you have set. Once the automation is complete, you can compare the goals and the results and measure the success of the implementation.
Mistake # 2: Automating processes that are not documented
Before the process can be automated, it must be inspected and documented. To uncover the process that an organization is currently doing, you will need to interview people who work there. And here comes the problem. Many office workers know how to get their job done, but they can’t properly describe what exactly they do. Documenting a business process and performing it are completely different things that require different knowledge and skills.
What happens if you automate a process, skipping the slice and dice phase? Most likely, you will get a chaotic automated process, which brings no benefits to the organization.
Conclusion: You should find expertise in order to clearly define all tasks that make up the process, describe the order in which they need to be performed, and the desired output. Documentation of processes should always precede automation because it helps streamline the process and avoid inconsistent results.
Mistake # 3: Automating inefficient processes
Automating inefficient processes simply means that inefficient processes are performed faster. You will not be able to fully appreciate the advantages of automation unless you streamline your processes in advance.
Process optimization will help identify and eliminate bottlenecks and duplicate operations. Thus, you will maximize efficiency, cut costs and add value to the processes.
Conclusion: Think about creating process standards and procedures for testing, validating and improving processes. Based on these standards, you can evaluate different process metrics (stability, speed, flexibility etc.) and reveal process flaws as well as ways for further optimization
Mistake # 4: Forgetting the Human Element
Automation means working smarter, faster and more efficiently, but it also means working differently. And people don´t willingly accept changes. On the contrary, many employees resist technological advancements, because they fear that they will lose their importance.
That is why their engagement may be low, which, in turn, may reduce the overall success rate of the automation.
Conclusion: To avoid such situation, you should clarify people´s concerns and allay their fears. You can also develop incentive programs, which will give reasons to employees to accept the change. By motivating people to work in a new way, you can greatly improve the outcome of automation.
Mistake # 5: Choosing the wrong tool
If you don´t have a clear idea of what and how you need to automate, there is a good chance that you buy the wrong tool. Using software, which is not tailored for the purpose, may lead to very poor results, such as low ROI, lack of flexibility and low efficiency.
Before choosing a tool, you should consider the scope of automation, determine your real needs, and prioritize software requirements. Besides, automation is not something that you do once and for all. There will be changes in processes and systems, and you’re going to need a tool flexible enough to handle these changes.
Conclusion: Think about BPMS (business process management software) — there is no better tool for the process automation. You can model your business processes and automate them right away — no coding is required for that. Another good thing about BPMS is its exceptional flexibility. Processes automated with BPMS are not hard-coded and you can evolve them along with customer demands and market conditions. Besides, good BPM software not only automates your manual processes but also makes them more efficient, manageable and transparent. By choosing this tool, you will take your automated processes to the next level and gain full control over their performance.
Forewarned is forearmed. Now that you know about the five ubiquitous mistakes of process automation, you can easily avoid them and thus ensure the success of your automation project.
Originally published at www.elma-bpm.com on August 18, 2016.