How to start your business process automation journey

The business process automation journey involves research, preparation, and a host of communication. It leads to rewards such as higher productivity, streamlined process and reduced human error. Business process automation

But how exactly should you start your business journey with automation?

From preparation to implementation, we outline the first steps of the business process automation journey.

Step 1: identify

The first step of the automation journey is to identify the processes that you want to automate. For instance, you might look at the processes behind areas with low productivity. Or, you could target the most repetitive and time-consuming processes plaguing your back office. You could also target the processes automation could boost for a specific department.

Automation is capable of a handling many different processes, simple or complex. Indeed, if you can think it, you can probably automate it. But you shouldn’t automate everything. In general, automation is useful for repetitive processes that consume your team’s time. Meanwhile, it’s less suited to infrequent processes and it’s not capable of decision making. 

So, when identifying the processes that you want to automate, be sure to consider the business case for each.

Step 2: evaluate

The next step in the automation journey is to evaluate your chosen processes. You need to identify any problems with your current workflows.

So, first analyse your processes for any issues, inefficiencies or breaks. It’s important to take the time to streamline and fix any processes that aren’t working. This is because automation cannot fix broken processes or workflows for you. Rather, it will do as you tell it, and that means that if you tell it to do something wrong, it will do it wrong.

You also need to evaluate the risks of implementation and how you will mitigate them. The three main examples of such risks relate to security, the likely level of disruption, and the impact of automation anxiety. For example, will your automation tool be interacting with any sensitive data? What will the impact be if an automated process fails?

Step 3: prepare

Once you’ve fixed any broken processes and identified potential risks of automation implementation, you can take the next step in your automation journey. That is, you can now prepare for your automation solution and make efforts to reduce the risks you’ve identified until they’re outweighed by the benefits.

For instance, identify new roles and responsibilities that automation will unlock. Then, you can put any needed training in place to help team members prepare. This is a great way to minimise the fears of automation-fuelled job loss. You can also put a change management plan in place. This is a strategy that will help ease your team into the changes that automation will bring.

Or in another example, prepare for security risks by updating your own procedures. Outlining the measures that you would expect a vendor to take to protect your data can also be useful.

Step 4: choose

All the previous steps of the business process automation journey have led to this. It’s time to choose your automation solution. There are a few options available. Your choice of tool should reflect the needs of you and your team(s).

You might choose to build your own automation solution. This is a valid option if you have the team and resources to do it, or only need a few scripts and macros. Otherwise, you should look for a suitable third-party option. This is often the best route, as it saves you time and you can usually access support if you need it.

When choosing an automation solution, remember to analyse the vendors as well as the software. Make sure to consider things like privacy/security, vendor track record and available support options. This can help further mitigate risks.

Step 5: implement

The final step in the start of your automation journey is implementation. This is where you set up your first triggers and start to automate those pesky processes.

When first implementing your automation, start small — don’t try to boil the ocean. It’s a good idea to start with a single process that presents the least amount of risk if it goes wrong. This lets you test the waters and ensure system integration — without disrupting major workflows.

Once you’re satisfied with the stability of your automation system, you can start to add more processes.

You’re on your way

The rest of your business process automation journey sees you adding more processes as your needs and your business continue to grow.

So, are you ready to choose your automation solution? If so, take out a free trial of ThinkAutomation and see how it can support you on your automation journey.