By: Siddharth Wadehra, QuickReach Head of Research &
Katherine Ina Fuentes, QuickReach Digital Transformation Consulting Associate
It has been established that business process automation can bring overwhelming benefits to your organization. However, you cannot just embark on workflow automation for every business process as you wish. The most important key to successfully introducing business process automation to your company is choosing the right process. Pick the right one and you can convince your whole company that business process automation is the key to the future. Select the wrong one and it may be years before you can try it again.
Business process automation won’t fix the messes you have in your company. It will only improve the efficiency you already have. If you choose a broken process to automate, you won’t see any benefits. Here are five signs that you have a process ready for automation. Use these to identify the best process to start out with automation.
THE PROCESS IS STANDARDIZED
One of the biggest challenges in automation is the lack of standardization. Trying to automate an unstructured process is futile and is likely to give you negative returns on your investment.
When you are looking for a first process, identify something where the workflow rules are already set and there aren’t too many exceptions to handle. If it is hard to get a clear rule on how a process should function, you should probably give it back to your team to rethink, even from a manual perspective.
Processes, where everyone is clear on the existing workflow, are also good candidates for initial automation.
THERE IS ALREADY AN EXISTING FORM
Having a paper or digital form for a process such as a travel reimbursement is a great sign that the process can be automated. It shows that someone has considered all the data needed to complete a request.
However, when you are working with an automated system, you can often augment your forms in ways that paper or PDFs don’t allow. Think about the types of fields you will need. Attachments? Drop downs? Date and time fields? Most modern form builders include a wide variety of field types that will allow you to create a form that is even better than what you already have.
Your workflow automation software should be able to give you an enhanced version of your paper form that can even auto-populate common fields.
MISCOMMUNICATION IS COMMON
This one isn’t necessarily a good sign, but one that suggests that you have a lot to gain from workflow automation. A major hazard to any business process management is miscommunication, as it often derails the whole process.
For instance, in your manual marketing budget approval process, an analyst attaches the budget plan in an email and sends it to the marketing head. But your marketing head’s email inbox is already overflowing and she never sees the email. In later meetings, there is a lot of miscommunication about what was agreed on.
Business process automation can help fix these communication errors because it enables each request to sit separately on a universal dashboard. Business process automation increases transparency and allows people to communicate better through the platform. Additionally, the reports from the data would further give you an indication of what else you might need to tweak.
ACCOUNTABILITY IS A CONSISTENT PROBLEM
As a business owner, you rely on your team to take accountability not only for their own actions, but of entire processes and parts of the business. When a workflow is handled manually, it can be difficult to hold someone accountable for every step. There’s always something else to blame: technology, spam filters, not enough information, etc.
If you sense a lot of accountability missing from one of your existing processes, workflow automation may be a big help. Workflow automation brings in a lot of built-in accountability. For starters, only one person is responsible for the smooth functioning of the process.
This person handles assigning tasks, improving the form, and checking out reports. Within an automated workflow, each task has a single owner which makes it clear to everyone who a particular item is waiting on.
When the system itself is so easy to change and edit, no one can say they lost a form or didn’t get enough information.
TRACKING IS NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE
To ensure that a process is running well, you need to be able to see the status of any request at any time. Understandably, in a manual process this is extremely difficult.
Let us say you get an email from a vendor who has escalated an unpaid invoice. You send an email to your finance head to ask what the issue is. The finance head has to sort through spreadsheets, paper invoices, and her inbox before she’s able to let you know what the problem is. This undoubtedly encourages blaming and defensiveness.
If you have a standardized process, but struggle to track items inside that process, business process automation might be a great asset for you. In an automated workflow system, all of this is done with a simple click. Each vendor payment follows the same pattern. When the finance manager checks it, you can see that your COO forgot to delegate his tasks while on vacation and an approval is stuck with him. You quickly reassign the task and tell finance to expedite the payment.
Business process automation can be a great tool at any point in your digital transformation journey, but applying it at the right time makes a big difference. Having standardized processes and forms in place, miscommunications, and facing accountability and tracking problems are big signs that you are ready enough for workflow automation and that a big scope for improvement is in store for your business when it comes to organization, visibility, and monitoring.
QuickReach takes business process automation to a whole new level
An intelligent business process automation suite like QuickReach could help you to integrate paperless workflows into your legacy systems, be it in finance, HR, office admin, or IT. Its built-in templates and easy-to-configure drag-and-drop visual interface allow you to deploy the first digital process in a matter of minutes!
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