In the second part of this blog series, Set the stage for robotic process automation, we cover the two remaining ways you can secure a successful automation implementation before you throw valuable time and resources at the project. If you missed part 1, you’ll find it here.
2 of the 4 ways to prepare your organization for automation:
Make your processes Lean
The Lean approach to process improvement is a systematic methodology intended to increase value for the customer by eliminating waste. It was developed out of the Toyota Production System, which explains the abundance of Japanese terminology in the approach. The actual application of Lean principles varies a great deal across different organizations. Purists would argue that true Lean demands a company-wide commitment to the approach in order to get true value from it, but the reality is there are immediate benefits that can come from applying simple Lean concepts to existing processes.
Some of those ‘quick wins’ include applying Value Stream Mapping to remove waste, reduce unevenness, improve process flow, and quantify the cycle time. Each of these improvements will have a significant impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the process, providing sustainable gains for the business, and support the application of automation technologies like RPA.
These sorts of improvements can be applied as part of a ‘Lean Kaizen event.’ Kaizen means, ‘change for the better’ and a Kaizen event is a limited, intensive workshop intended to address specific processes or business issues. Through a Kaizen event the basic Lean concepts can be applied and processes evaluated for their automation potential. Nintex Promapp is the ideal tool to support these exercises, with Lean tagging allowing teams to see opportunities for change, and the resulting improvements visually captured, along with a quantified ROI.
Reduce the defects
Under Lean, defects are one of the seven kinds of ‘waste’ and it’s likely that process defects – anything that doesn’t meet a customer-defined specification – cost you more than you realize.
The effects of defects are widespread: annoyed customers, re-work, increased costs, and even regulatory risks, where the process deals with regulated activities like contracts. Applying automation to a process that suffers these kinds of defects will only amplify the problems. It’s essential that the defects are identified and a strategy developed to reduce them before automation technology is brought into play.
Identifying defects is the first step, but they also need to be tagged with information about the type and volume of events. That data enables process experts to target their efforts to reduce or eliminate the defects, using anything from standardized forms or data to reducing paper artifacts and manual handling. Some defects may be more complex, and the application of specialist techniques like Six Sigma can be helpful to handle them with a stable, defined approach.
Involve your people
Be open and honest with your teams about the process and goals of your automation strategy. Some people feel threatened by the technology, afraid it will eliminate the need for their jobs. They need to understand your intent and the likely impacts on both them and the business.
Process improvement needs buy-in from the teams involved, so before you begin changing processes and applying new technologies, ensure you have clear communication with those affected and consider them in the decisions you make.
It all comes down to a strong and healthy change management approach. That will give people clarity and ensure the changes you make are positive for all involved. RPA and business process automation aren’t ‘silver bullet’ solutions to every business problem, but they are effective tools for enhancing your organization’s effectiveness in numerous areas. Just make sure you are ready before you take that leap.