Deploying automation remains a priority for many businesses. A successful implementation requires tremendous effort to overhaul a ‘deficient’ business process, turning it into one that removes mundane human tasks and having an intelligent ‘machine’ perform the necessary work perfectly and quickly.
Experience has informed us that the transition is ridden with challenges. To ensure the effort will effect meaningful business value, you need to do the due diligence before embarking on a process automation initiative.
- Involve the right stakeholders—the stakeholders should include decision makers and subject matter experts from the areas covered by the process. If you have a process owner, that individual is a key player. Identify who the influencers are and keep them in the loop.
- Gather feedback—you need to hear from the customers affected by the process. These customers include external and internal customers. The most problematic or high transaction volume processes might be easy targets for consideration. But the feedback helps to distinguish the real needs from noise.
- Gather supporting data—solid evidence trumps hunches. When you have data that speak to the urgency of the need to improve the current state, it makes it easier to ‘sell’ the proposal. Incorporate appropriate assumptions and rational projections of the future state to create a vivid picture that is convincing.
- Be clear on the requirements—this is not about designing the solution. Rather, it is identifying the core requirements that the automation solution needs to deliver. These high-level requirements could include mobile functionalities, access to analytics for users throughout the business, and specific benchmarks for improvement. Clarity on the requirements facilitates the quantification of the benefits and sets the expectations. The information provides handy references for prioritization when comparing competing requests for funding.
- Be objective in making the selection—it is easy to get distracted by personal preferences or office politics when selecting the process for automation. Take the time to seek honest feedback from peers you trust and respect. Listen intently and make refinement along the way. You might be amazed how you could have missed issues that matter. At the same time, it is a great way to socialize the idea; you get a sense whether your selection would be supported.
As the information gathered through the exercises also helps the business with technology selection, the legwork will lighten the work needed in the preparation phase. The buy-in you gain plants the seed to ameliorate potential resistance.