Digital transformation is a seismic shift in how an enterprise delivers value to customers by appropriately leveraging people, processes, and technology. One of the key tools in this evolution is process automation.
Whether through workflows and digital forms, or robotic process automation ‘bots’, process managers and COOs undertaking a digital transformation initiative will look to implement a degree of automation in the organization’s processes to immediately increase process effectiveness.
The question that usually follows is, ‘Where do we start?’
While the theory is straightforward, the actual execution of process automation can have considerable complexity. In order to navigate that, it can help to know the best processes to begin with. By choosing the right processes to automate first, the business can rack up a few quick successes and bolster the support for ongoing automation efforts.
So, what makes a process a good candidate for automation? How can an organization identify the procedures that would be easily and effectively automated, and show rapid ROI?
There are numerous factors that can qualify a process for automation in one degree or another, but here are three quick and simple signposts that will help pinpoint processes that might benefit from automation.
Single out the systems
Your existing business processes tie into your systems in numerous places. Within the finance division, for instance, there will be multiple activities that reference an ERP. Similarly, HR processes will regularly run through an HRIS to manage data and record keeping.
Identifying where those core systems interact with your central processes can be key in finding automation opportunities. A tool like Nintex Promapp® is helpful here, as you can run a report based on the systems you have tagged in your process designs and see immediately where they connect. By analyzing that report, you will have a picture of which activities involve those systems, and a picture of the scope of their use.
Actions within systems like an ERP or HRIS can often be easily automated, and so this exercise provides a quick list of opportunities to replace manual actions with automated steps for quick ROI.
File away the forms
The paperless office is still an unrealized dream, but it is coming closer. Paper forms and documents necessitate manual actions to integrate the vital data they collect with the wider digital business. That usually means data entry, email, and double or triple handling of the content in order to execute a process.
Each of those steps takes time and effort that can be automated. Look for where your processes use paper forms and consider whether a digital form could be used to capture the data directly, and routed via a workflow to eliminate data handling errors and delays.
Nintex Promapp’s document library can provide a clear idea of exactly where those opportunities lie. You can list all the documents utilized by your processes, and filter them by type, to get a comprehensive list of the forms currently in use. Each of those can be assessed to decide whether they can be digitized, removing manual actions and accelerating your processes.
Break up the batches
There are many tasks in business that only take a small effort, but introduce disruption to your team’s regular activities. Small but menial tasks like data transfer or form entry can sometimes feel like an interruption, so they are set aside and ‘batched’ – held over and done when there is a reasonable backlog that justifies the effort. While this makes sense for human operators, allowing them to optimize their time, it introduces delays in process execution as that data sits unattended for up to days at a time.
These lags in process execution add up quickly and can impact customer experience and satisfaction. The easiest way to spot them is to identify points of low activity in your processes. Where there are significant periods of low activity there is probably one or more manual steps that are being held up by batching or similar practices.
Nintex Promapp provides reporting on process execution timeframes which can help identify processes where this could be a problem. By comparing the active time and total process time, you can see which processes have the most wait time and compare that to what is expected for the activities. If there is no reason for the lag, the process could benefit from an automation solution that deals with small data exchanges as they happen and frees your employees up to concentrate on value-adding tasks.
Empower your processes
Digital automation technologies provide numerous opportunities to improve and accelerate your business processes. Identifying which processes, to begin with, is part of the challenge, but the Nintex Process Platform can help you pinpoint the best candidates for quick and effective automation success.