Business process automation is starting to be widely adopted and organisations are becoming increasingly ambitious with what they want to achieve. Done right, intelligent automation can have a huge positive impact, helping companies to achieve better results while cutting processing costs. However, we find that many companies tend to fall into the same traps when starting to implement more advanced digital automation projects.
1. Not understanding processes well enough before starting to improve them
To effectively automate a process, it is vital to ensure that the manual version of the process is understood in detail. This includes thinking about what happens at each step of the process. For more complex, or more critical processes, it is a good idea to properly document the process as it is, before starting to optimise or automate it. Skipping this step can easily result in oversights that lead to quality problems, delays and ultimately producing automations that don't live up to expectations.
Talk to the individuals currently responsible for the process, get them to walk through what they do step-by-step. Screen recordings can be helpful, enabling the process to be captured with granular detail and slowed down for further analysis when needed. Create a process map showing how the work is currently done and verify with the process owner that it is correct before starting to work on what it will look like when automated.
Ensure that edge cases are considered. Think about different types of inputs and outputs and if there are situations where they might vary. For example, perhaps the process is different if a customer faces a certain type of problem? Or the process might need some updates when a new calendar year begins? Think about what happens if negative paths are selected i.e., if the "no branch" is activated in your process map.
2. Lack of focus on quality control
Even simple workflows need their creators to have thoughts along the lines of "If this broke what would the impact be?" Perhaps it would cost the company money if it was not picked up - e.g., Sending a quote to a customer below the value should be. Or maybe it would result in poor customer experience that could affect retention rates e.g., sending out an email that doesn't relate to that person, leading to confusion and worry. In some cases, automation errors could lead more serious to legal and security risks.
Depending on the potential risk level, different amounts of care need to be taken. This could be as simple as checking that the automation works as expected, or as complex as needing to run a suite of regression tests every time a change is made. Either way it is important to have considered the risk level and acted accordingly.
3. Failing to fully capitalise on automation initiatives once they are in place
When done right, automation initiatives should have a significant positive effect on the wider organisation. Freeing up time, talent and resources that can be used to benefit other areas of the department or business. However, companies often neglect to think about how to leverage benefits of automation within a wider context, leading to siloed initiatives that fail to fully capitalise on the investment that has been made.
Most companies create a business case for introducing intelligent automation, but it is important to make sure that this translates into a cohesive plan to help maximise the benefits of automation once it has been deployed. It can be helpful to set KPIs to measure how the automation program is helping meet wider company objectives such as improved customer experience, meeting quality and compliance goals, or hitting efficiency targets.
Download our free SmartSteps for Automation Success Guide which provides lots of useful advice including recommended KPIs, and some easy steps you can take to ensure your automation project is a success.