As technologies to eliminate painful, manual tasks like document filing, data entry, approval routing and KPI reporting/tracking become more flexible and more cost effective, relying on the way things have always been done becomes less reliable and more costly.
Many process automation projects, particularly for document- and data-burdened processes with multiple stakeholders like accounts payable or sales order processing, achieving a return on investment within six months is realistic.
Achieving success and realizing that ROI often come down to following a few simple rules. Here are a few tips to keep you on track as you begin your journey.
1: Keep it simple
The more complex a process automation project becomes, the more points of failure begin to appear and the harder it is to debug. Automation works best when there are simple data handoffs and you don't try to do too much.
2: Identify the best business cases for automation
An executive who signs off on an automation technology purchase order expects a tangible return on investment to the business, so sharpen up the business case for the automation and what it is going to deliver before you fund it. Often, straight-forward projects like AP invoice or sales order process automation can reap quick rewards and help to put systems in place that you can leverage later on for more challenging and complex processes.
3: Think about manual intervention points
It is all too easy to get caught up in the beauty of automating something... and to forget about the fact that humans still depend on (and must interact) with this automation. Part of your process design should include the end-to-end exchange between human beings and the automation. What human touch points (if any) will the automation include? Will there be times when human intervention and exception handling must occur?
4: Define your service levels and system alert conditions
If the automation is going to help monitor a process and issue alerts, carefully determine the conditions that will trigger them. You should also identify who is to receive these alerts and the action they can take to intercede in a specific situation.
5: Document and/or revise system and operating procedures
Moving to automation means that business and system workflows will inevitably change. As part of the work, there should be a project task for updating operating and system procedures so both IT and business staff stay current with the automation. As a last step, these revised operating and system procedures should be tested by staff to ensure that they work in practice before any automation goes into production.
6: Test operating and business processes
It's surprising how often IT automation plans fail to include actual trials of the new automation within the fabric of the business itself. If your business is finance, for example, does the automation work as perfectly in loan origination as it does in credit card approvals? Every business scenario that employs the automation should be thoroughly tested, debugged, and signed off on by the end user before it goes into production. If the automation is a customer touch point, these operational tests should include a test group of outside customers so you can verify that the new customer experience is a positive one.
Go Forth and Conquer
With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to identify the best opportunities to save time, money and effort within your organization and to achieve a quick win that can pave the way for further innovation and greater efficiency.
For more information, and to discuss your process automation goals, contact your Artsyl Technologies representative. They can demonstrate how smart process platforms like docAlpha can adapt to automate any document- and data-dependent business process to eliminate manual data entry, document filing and workflow routing.