News & Insights

 
Insights28th November 2019

Approaching Automation One Step at a Time

A more deliberate approach

For growth-minded, ambitious organisations that want to drive efficiency, business process automation (BPA) will of course be an area of great interest. The knee jerk reaction will be that all repeatable processes should be automated, right away. However, at ActionPoint we recommend a more deliberate approach to implementing BPA. In this article, we outline how to approach automation one step at a time.

Step 1: Identify Strategic Reasons for Business Process Automation

When integrating any software or technology into your business, the first place to start is to ask “why?”. In this step we will look at some of the strategic reasons for business process automation.

Allows your workforce to concentrate on higher value tasks

There is a long held and inaccurate view of implementing business process automation that needs to be addressed. The perception is that automation technologies replace workers. However, BPA should instead be seen as an enabler which moves workers higher up the value chain.

By implementing a strategic BPA strategy, you remove some of the daily frustrations experienced by workers who tend to tedious, sometimes mindless tasks that could easily be repeated at scale. By removing these tasks, you enable your workforce to work on higher value tasks and contribute more. This ultimately allows your workers to be more fulfilled in their roles and work better. Both workforce and the organisation benefit from this as the organisations can ultimately earn more by driving a strategic automation strategy.

Provides a means to scale efficiently and consistently

Within the data management context, whether that be customer interaction, internal processing or other tasks that are repeated at scale, BPA reduces the risk of human error. When you want to work at scale efficiently and consistently, BPA is the key method by which you can deliver consistency in the implementation of your process.

Ultimately, business process automation is about improving your customer experience. If you give your workforce the freedom to work on higher value tasks, while managing tedious, repeatable tasks with automation technology, you are ultimately going to provide a better, more reliable customer experience. In this way BPA becomes a strategic differentiator and enabler for your business.

Step 2: Analyse Existing Processes

Your business processes need to be properly considered before you implement automation. This is a really critical point. Oftentimes businesses want to implement automation immediately so that they can experience the benefits earlier. However, at ActionPoint we believe that BPA should only be looked at for mature processes that have been running for an extended period of time, at a relatively stable state, or in some circumstances relatively new process but only if they are expected to remain quite stable.”

Organisations often overlook or underestimate the power of non-automated processes. Manual tasks, although slower and less reliable, can generally be changed quickly and easily. If you feel there is a better way of doing things, you can demonstrate to workers and easily change course. However, if you have implemented machine driven process automation, recalibrating can be more costly. It is much easier to change the method used by a worker than to reconfigure a software system. That is why we recommend deeply analysing processes and only automating those tasks that have stood the test of time and proved themselves to be reliable, efficient and accurate.

Once you have a defined known process, you can then analyse it from a systems implementation perspective. A key value that ActionPoint bring here is that we deeply analyse the human process. While analysing known processes, we try to pinpoint aspects of it where judgement calls are being made by the worker and use innovative technologies to systemise these judgement calls.

Step 3: Find Out What Pain Points Can be Solved by Business Process Automation

When analysing business processes, it is important to fully understand the pain points that can be solved by automation. A key driver for exploring BPA strategies is an inability to scale to keep up with demand. To explore this point further, we’ll look at a previous case study.

The Irish Passport Renewals System is an example of a national scale automation project that brought huge benefit. A key pain point that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had was that the demand for passport renewals was increasing at a huge rate and the manpower required to continue delivering a high standard of service simply wasn’t scalable. In reviewing the process, the public interface was identified as one of the key bottlenecks or pain points. Because of this the focus of automation became the human interface. An exhaustive user-centric design-led process was then used to create a system built for scale. To read more about this project, click here.

For DFA, the pain point identified was an inability to efficiently meet demand. Other pain points could be a lack of consistency in your process implementation, addressing issues associated with upcoming scale or covering a skill shortage.

Step 4: Implementation

At this point in your journey, you should have a well-defined process that is expected to remain stable. You have outlined strategic reasons for BPA and identified pain points. It’s now time to reach out to a software partner and begin the analysis design process. It is in this stage that processes are fully broken down, streamlined and technology is designed and built to facilitate BPA.

Business Process Automation can bring huge benefits to your business. It can open massive scaling opportunities, drive workplace satisfaction, solve complex challenges, and substantially increase revenue. It is an area that all businesses should explore as part of their development process. Whatever stage of your decision-making process you are in, ActionPoint is here to help. Visit us at  https://actionpoint.ie/contact/ and we can help you decide whether business process automation is right for you.

For more information on Custom Software Development from ActionPoint click here.