15 Apr

By: Malik Perera

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Garbage in, garbage out: save your automation efforts from certain failure

Digital transformation continues to be an exciting and high-profile business initiative, but as with every business ‘revolution’ of the last few decades, it’s not a silver bullet.

In particular, many businesses have embraced automation as a technology to shift their organization to a new way of working, but failed to understand both the limits of the toolset and the support it requires.

It’s vital that companies grasp the potential of automation but realise its limitations too. By helping your staff come to terms with what these technologies offer, your teams can advocate for more intelligent and effective implementation across the business, and ensure the maximum benefit is derived from each tool.

Automation works

There’s no denying that business process automation pays dividends. It can remove or reduce laborious, repetitive work and bring greater accuracy and efficiency to processes and procedures in the workplace.

However, if an organization wants to see more than short term gains and truly realize the potential ROI of the technology, automation needs to be employed intelligently and with a supporting structure that looks at more than just new software.

Scaffolding for success

The first factor in successful process automation is the process. Without capturing and refining your business processes, even the most effective automation solutions can only achieve so much.

It’s another instance of the old programming mantra, ‘garbage in – garbage out.’ If the process itself is inefficient, lacks clarity or is poorly understood, then adding automation may in fact amplify the problems rather than reduce them.

Engage the people who know the process best in the practice of capturing the process, then provide avenues for feedback and continuous improvement. Once the process is clear, compliant and functioning as intended, there are opportunities to identify where automation can bring greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Identifying the systems and structures already in place can help indicate where automation will be beneficial. The users most familiar with the activities can link their steps to the platforms already in play, and this can provide a map of dependencies and connections. For Lean and Six Sigma advocates, utilizing tags or highlights can pinpoint elements that are ripe for optimization.

Reporting these markers across the processes is an effective way of spotting automation opportunities within the business.

Knowing the tools

There are various forms of automation available, and each has its own arena of effectiveness. Like any toolkit, you can’t expect any one solution to fit every problem and trying to apply blanket fixes can in fact create more problems.

Rather than grasp the latest trend, carefully consider what your needs are. This is where empowering your business teams helps; since they’re the everyday users of the processes, they know them best. By giving them an understanding of the various technologies, they will be able to identify use cases that best suit the tools.

Article by courtesy of Nintex

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