(Over the next couple of weeks, in my ‘Let’s Break Down the Myths’ article series, I’m going to examine and dispel common myths that are frequently associated with workflow automation. This week is all about implementation. Check out last week’s article on unemployment.)

By: Dominic Tancredi, CEO & Co-founder // Dom & Tom

Myth 2: Automation is hard to implement — where do I even start??

This isn’t entirely true. Of course, it will depend on your organization and the needs that you want to get out of these systems, but implementing automation into your business is not as difficult as you might think, I promise. 

Here are a few steps to help get you started:

1.) The first thing you should do when thinking about implementing a workflow automation system is to outline what areas in your company need help the most. From a grand scale, identify everyone in the business that interacts with the organization (your customers, your users, your vendor partners) and all their various user journeys.

2.) Then categorize these areas by the amount of lost-time in job performance based on how long the tasks within these areas take.

  • For example, if you’re having to send manual emails to check-in on customers who haven’t updated their billing, this could have a direct cost of your customer support team’s time and indirect cost of an aging accounts receivable
  • There are several categorizations you can use for these areas, including “complexity” on automating
  • Lastly, make sure to gather the cadence of task within that area, as it will be used later for consideration in automating. Tasks that happen once a year are rarely automated (like buying a birthday present for my brother)

3.) Next, look at the workflows of your team members and see if there are any intermediary tasks that occur within those areas

  • Imagine a team that has a recurring meeting, looking at a generated team report
    • Do they all look at a generated report prior? 
    • If so, who generates that report and distributes it? 
    • Would it be more efficient to have the report automatically generated and attached to calendar events, with a notification to users prior to the meeting?
  • These intermediate areas may not be the task itself, but the communication of the tasks to be automated

Don’t just look internally for opportunities to automate; look at your competitors and colleagues and see how they’ve used automation to enhance their workflow.

4.) Once you’ve identified aspirational opportunities to automate, you need to assess three main factors

  • Level of effort to automate
    • Will this fit within your existing systems? Will this be a communication process that your team embraces?
  • Security 
    • Does this impact any existing Information security policies by creating, storing, or communicating tasks?
  • Value of Automation
    • How often does this task have errors that automating could reduce? What manual effort does it save and for which number of employees?

You may want to consider an outside consultant to come in, map your user journeys, discuss areas of opportunity with automation, and an implementation roll-out.

5.)  Lastly, consider messaging out what automation means to your team. Some team members may be nervous about their jobs being taken over. But in understanding and conveying the assessment done, you’ll have an opportunity to increase everyone’s quality of life in your organization…so long as they know about it! So make sure you have a messaging plan in place and roll that out simultaneously with your automation initiatives.

The main goal is to have an understanding of areas that you convert from manual to automatic, making your team more efficient. 

With a granular understanding of their day-to-day, you can find tasks and assignments that free your team up to work on higher-order problems (and have a more pleasant day!)

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