1. Identify Repetitive Tasks:
Identifying the area that has repetitive tasks should be the first step when a business considers moving to automation.
To identify the problem, a deep understanding of the business is essential. The best way would be to make a visual representation of your as-is workflow with help of flow diagrams and understand your business workflow better and identify the repetitive tasks.
Now you can create an ideal workflow that improves your existing workflow and may simplify the process by automating repetitive tasks. This is a key step that needs to be done in close consultation with the other stakeholders and the actual users of the process.
You might also consider the net savings in terms of time saved and effective cost savings. This will help in presenting a clear business case to support automation of these business processes.
2. Define Business Goals:
Once you identify the problem, the next step will be to define your business goals using your current manual workflow as the benchmark.
Your target could be related to improving the throughput or reducing cycle time on a single process or optimizing resources for more productive tasks.
You might want your workforce to deal with less data entry and focus more on production tasks.
It could possibly be anything, but you need to be able to justify how your business goals will be achieved by automation and how you will measure them.
3. Select the Right Workflow Automation Solution:
The next step would be to decide on the means to the end. How do we wish to achieve the business goals? To arrive at a solution your next priority step will be to select the right workflow automation solution.
Choose the right software to get an idea of the best way to choose your solution provider.
There are a plethora of options available in the market for an automation tool. It is important to understand the ideal fit for your organization.
More and more companies are moving to the cloud option that provides tremendous flexibility and lowers costs.
Would that work for you?
How important is data security?
Do you need to have a vendor that is compliant with government regulations like HIPAA or DoD?
Based on your specific needs, you might want to shortlist 3 to 5 vendors and then do a deep dive into the pros and cons of each solution. You might consider a cloud-based safe and secure software like Cflow which can create your workflow in minutes, but this might not be a great choice for all companies.
Based on the goals that you have set in your previous step, select your workflow software to automate your business process. The selected workflow should be simple and user-friendly and easily adaptable by your users.
4. Train the Users:
The next step would be to train the workforce to use the new workflow software.
Any new change brought in by the management is always met with resistance as it is seen as unnecessary by the employees.
So it is imperative to involve the end users right from the first step and include them in the discussions so that they are made an integral part of the decision making process. This sets the end users to be accountable and brings the best ideas to the fore.
Providing a clear transition path from the current manual process to the new automated system and giving them adequate training to help them get up to speed would go a long way in making this transition successful.
5. Measure Key Performance Indicators and Improve Your Workflow:
After you are done with the above steps, you are up and running on your new automated workflow system.
Your business users will provide feedback on the process based on their usage and it is important to fix the kinks in the armor at this point. Then you are ready to do the final step which would be to measure the key performance indicators and improve your workflow.
Continuous monitoring and measurement of your automated workflow will help identify bottlenecks and suggest areas for improvement. Continuous assessment of your newly upgraded workflow will help your team become more efficient.