We live in an automation age, and its use is growing every day.
A global survey by McKinsey tells us that 66 percent of businesses have initiated process automation in one or more business functions. This is a giant leap of 9 percent from 57 percent in just last two years.
And, why not?
After all, automation drastically cuts downtime, money, and other resources on business tasks, bringing in productivity and efficiency.
Although automation’s reach has extended much beyond any specific business function, job role, or sector, many feel unsure how to take the first few steps.
Below are the potential roadblocks you may face while implementing automation and the best practices to help you navigate your steps and bypass the roadblocks in this journey.
BPA – Business process automation plays a vital role in transforming your business. It is meant to bring efficiency to day-to-day operations and generate an overall competitive advantage.
However, it should not be built to ride on a new, popular technology trend.
So, what should you consider when planning to implement it? Which processes should be prioritized? What methods of implementation work best?
Let's discuss essential pointers on implementing business process automation.
- Begin slow - Don’t include all the processes at the start. It’ll be time-consuming. You can become sluggish and lose the market to competitors by putting too much time into automating everything.
- Select the tools and technology to improve by keeping the future in mind. That means thinking about scalability and transferability between platforms.
- People can handle their tasks manually and build their workflows at the start. However, they may face bottlenecks in the process and discover opportunities for improving efficiency. Automation solutions can then be introduced wherever required.
- If possible, adopt third-party automation tools instead of developing your custom solutions. This will speed up and test automation needs.
- Take steps for change management – training, tutorials, meetings, hand-holding sessions, etc.
- Monitor and measure the processes.
Without a doubt, process automation brings immense value to a business.
However, it can thrive only when you deploy and integrate it the way it should be done.
It can be incredibly challenging because of certain factors, such as business complexity and user adoption.
You may face roadblocks while implementing business process automation. But, with careful planning, you can tackle them and navigate your way towards a successful BPA adoption.
Here are the common barriers/roadblocks to automation implementation.
Your employees will face many changes once you switch to business process automation.
Besides the technical changes, they will see changes in their roles and responsibilities, even in its hierarchical structure.
This may trigger fear of uncertainty and apprehension about their place in this new setup. And, a person stuck in outdated roles can never be conducive for the organization implementing automation.
That’s why it becomes essential to make all employees aware of the expected changes in their roles post the automation. This will ensure that the automation achieves its purpose and clarifies the workforce.
Do you believe automation is a one-time process?
So, let me tell you, it's not!
It's, in fact, a series of continuous improvements over time. Such modifications need constant monitoring and feedback, without which they cannot reach an optimum efficiency level.
But many organizations make the mistake of taking a backseat as soon as the physical integration of infrastructure during automation gets over.
That can create a problem because, like any other process, automation also needs a bit of finetuning based on feedback.
It's essential to observe, get quality feedback, and review the setup and its functioning by comparing it to your company goals.
BPA not only changes the tools; it also impacts the way employees work.
While automation is excellent at eliminating manual work and saving time, getting your teams to adopt it might still be a challenge for you.
Having worked with existing systems, your employees may be set in a certain way of doing things.
They will resist adopting any new systems and procedures.
You will need to work your way carefully through this resistance and implement automation. Therefore, keep them informed and updated about expected changes from the beginning.
I know it is tempting to dive in head-on and automate just about every process in your business.
But it’s best to have a plan and do it right the first time. It’ll ensure you make the best use of the resources required for automation.
Here are the best practices that'll help you grasp your business process automation endeavor right from the word go.
While process automation is the solution to many of your business troubles, not every process is worth automating.
Moreover, turning to AI, ML, and the likes to build sophisticated business processes may not be required in every business.
Automation can be an issue if you attempt to automate all the processes simultaneously but have limited or no previous automation experience. This will be overly ambitious; and will also ruin your automation efforts.
It’s essential, therefore, that you evaluate and decide which processes must be automated.
Begin by selecting lightweight processes that aren’t mission-critical. It’ll help you test out the impact of automation. Check which ones are the most repetitive, are time-sensitive, and have a high effect on other procedures. You will be able to understand the roadblocks and decide if automation is indeed a good idea.
Once you know which processes you want to automate, select the right tool to automate them.
There are countless unique tools, but not every one of them will be right for you.
Think of your organization’s capabilities, scalability needs, and usage before shortlisting the tool/software. For example, tools that are difficult to use and adapt should be a big no-no.
Your first step towards automation should be to specify its goals. Once they are set, you can start working backward to achieve the same.
The reason to begin with goal specification is simple – Automation involves an investment of time and money. That’s why it’s best to gauge its performance at every step and ensure that the results match its goals.
Unexpected can hit anyone at any time.
Your system can be down with a technical glitch or be hacked by some cyber attackers. Whatever it may be, you cannot allow such situations to take over automation and derail your business.
While no one can predict what will happen, you can always ensure that you have a backup plan to deal with them.
The idea is to be proactive and ensure that you can function, despite the disaster.
Although automation brings immense value to any organization, it’s still a drastic change that some of your employees may resist.
There are many reasons for the resistance – fear that automation will take away their job or anxiety of disruption in the organization’s status quo.
Such worries are usual, but there are ways you can address them and put everyone at ease:
Explain the benefits. Your team will accept the changes if they understand what benefits BPA brings. For example, show them how BPA can enhance their productivity while allowing them enough time to work on more critical projects.
Update them. Keep your employees updated and involved at every step. For example, organize brainstorming sessions for them – tell them about all the pain points of manual processes, listen to them and try addressing their concerns and worries.
Establish roles. Once automation is implemented, many of your employees will have different roles in the organization. Establish all the parts clearly and build transparency while enforcing accountability.
Before you automate your system, you must document all the processes and go through them carefully.
In this step, you must look for repetitive processes and problems when something functions at an extreme parameter and might derail your systems when you automate.
BPA is not a one-time process. It is an ongoing process.
You must monitor its outcomes continuously, without which it’ll be impossible to improve the efficiency of an automated process.
The process owner, in this case, must be made responsible for gauging the performance post automation and giving consistent feedback for an amendment to get the most out of it. Monitor the KPIs and make adjustments wherever necessary.
The approach to automating business processes should be considered carefully and monitored consistently. This is because it improves your processes significantly and cuts down unnecessary costs and time spent on it.
Do you want to know more about building a BPA platform?
Get in touch with Imaginovation to discuss your BPA project.
We will help you evaluate your existing system and plan, monitor, and build a robust BPA solution.
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