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Home|Nintex Blog|Rethinking Automation: The Importance of Strategic Planning

Rethinking Automation: The Importance of Strategic Planning

Have you automated one or several processes already, without really understanding them all first? You’re not alone. Many companies, irrespective of their size, automate processes spurred on by immediate competitive pressures and the need for quick efficiency gains, scalable solutions, and meeting growing operational demands.

However, this expedited approach can lead to increased inefficiencies, heightened risks of non-compliance, integration challenges, and underwhelming returns on automation investment.

Why do some businesses progress to automation without planning first?

Companies frequently initiate automation without adequate planning. At Nintex, we’ve observed thousands of businesses grappling with this issue. Here’s why organizations of various sizes may skip the crucial steps of process mapping and management:

  1. Fast-growing startups: Startups facing rapid expansion might automate critical processes quickly to cope with operational demands. In their haste, structured process management often falls by the wayside, often leading to future inefficiencies.
  2. Small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): SMEs under intense competition might fast-track automation to boost efficiency and cut costs, often at the expense of thorough planning and process understanding due to limited resources.
  3. Mid-sized companies on a digital path: Many mid-sized companies may automate certain processes as part of broader digital transformation initiatives, choosing speed over foundational mapping, possibly due to executive pressure or the desire for quick wins.
  4. Large corporations with decentralized decision-making: In these environments, different departments might automate independently to achieve localized objectives without considering broader strategic implications or integration needs.

These scenarios commonly lead businesses to recognize the need for a more deliberate, mapped-out approach as they encounter scalability challenges, integration complexities, or fail to realize expected automation returns. Eventual recognition of this lack of planning can prompt them to revert to key steps like process mapping and management to realign their automation strategies for long-term success.

How does this approach impact your process maturity and ability to scale?

When businesses hastily implement process automation without adequate planning, mapping, and management, they risk cementing inefficiencies and missing simple opportunities for process optimization. This oversight can stifle your process maturity evolution, often leading to the automation of flawed or poorly understood workflows that can fail to align with broader business objectives.

And by not examining the success of your automation projects, you may impact your ability to scale. The expanded use of these processes can amplify inherent deficiencies, causing operational disruptions and limiting the company’s ability to adapt to changing market demands, reinforcing the importance of the strategic foundation and the risks of premature automation that can keep businesses in a cycle of inefficiency that hampers long-term growth and adaptability.

The foundation of successful automation

The cornerstone of any successful automation project is meticulous mapping and management of current-state processes before diving into automation.

This critical planning step yields a deep understanding of existing workflows, identifies inefficiencies, determines which processes can be improved with manual optimization, and highlights processes ripe for automation. This groundwork paves the way for tailored automation solutions that genuinely enhance operational efficiencies and drive significant business value. Unfortunately, due to the business pressures explored above, many businesses overlook this fundamental planning phase, which can lead to poorly integrated automation efforts that don’t meet intended goals, inflating costs and diminishing investment returns.

When should you act and revisit your automation planning?

If your company is grappling with issues like inefficiencies, increased costs, poor scalability, compliance problems, low ROI on automation efforts, employee dissatisfaction, or customer impact due to hastily automated processes, revisiting and properly mapping and managing current state processes is a wise move.

This strategic planning step will help you:

  • Understand current state processes: Identifying error processes like manual data entry often having duplicate steps or variations, ensures that automation teams are clear on what needs to be built to automate it. This level of granularity also impacts things like how the form is built, or what automation tool should be used.
  • Identify and resolve inefficiencies: Mapping pinpoints bottlenecks or redundancies, facilitating targeted improvements that could be achieved by a little manual optimization, or more detailed automation efforts.
  • Control and optimize costs: A thorough mapped and managed process increases understanding and aids in identifying cost overruns, guiding smarter automation investments.
  • Enhance scalability: Well-managed processes adapt more smoothly as business needs evolve.
  • Ensure compliance: Process mapping identifies non-compliant steps, reducing legal risks.
  • Improve ROI: Strategic automation following detailed mapping boosts investment efficiency.
  • Increase employee and customer satisfaction: Efficient management enhances service reliability and responsiveness.
  • With change management and training: Effective change management and training programs require a readily available and trusted source of process truth that outlines the ‘right way to do things’. Automation training programs can leverage both current and future state workflows to highlight the benefits achieved and increase adoption.

For those recognizing that their initial automation efforts are falling short, it might be time to explore the benefits of process mapping and management with Nintex Process Manager.

87% of customers agree that Process Manager is an important tool for identifying process automation opportunities.
Nintex Process Manager is a key element to Center of Excellence and we strongly recommend documenting each process prior to any automation.

Both: Tech Validate by Survey Monkey Michael Rider, Chief Technology Officer, Bank RPA

The combined power of Nintex Process Manager and Automation Cloud

Combining Nintex Process Manager with Nintex Automation Cloud will transform your approach to process and automation projects, making them significantly more effective than when these tools are used separately. By harnessing the combined strengths of both solutions, you can more effectively overcome common implementation challenges, such as:

  • Inefficient feedback integration: You can now seamlessly gather and integrate feedback from business users and process owners who are experts in their respective fields.
  • Process identification for automation: Easily identify new processes or specific areas within existing processes that could benefit the most from automation.
  • Build robust business cases: Streamline the creation of compelling automation business cases, supported with detailed estimates of time and cost savings for both current state manual, and if these processes are automated.
  • Accelerated project delivery: Significantly reduce the time it takes to deliver future automation projects.
  • Continuous process improvement: Track and manage process changes, variations, and enhancements over time.
  • Error and compliance management: Minimize human errors, rework, and risks of non-compliance with established processes.
  • Scalability enhancement: Address and ease scaling challenges that arise from rigid manual systems and processes.

Using Nintex Process Manager and Automation Cloud together lays a robust foundation for your automation efforts, ensuring that they are precise, well-integrated, compliant, and fully aligned with your broader business strategies—ultimately maximizing efficiency and ROI.

Download the Business Process Maturity and Automation Webinar to better understand how Nintex can map, manage, and automate your processes to easily and economically propel your business maturity.

Trudi Masalski

Trudi Masalski is a marketing leader based in Melbourne, Australia. She has a particular passion for product marketing and loves the energetic vibe of the technology industry. Trudi enjoys crafting messaging and content to help customers understand the business value in process mapping and automation. Before Nintex, Trudi spent more than 20 years perfecting her marketing skills at various companies across the globe.

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