SOPs

The 7 Steps of Process Automation

You likely know you need process automation — but how do you get started? Here are the major process automation steps to help you identify and integrate solutions into your workflows.

Introduction

Increasingly, companies are automating in a bid to streamline things and boost ROI. They’re freeing human resources to focus on high-level tasks that aren’t easy to automate.

If you’re wondering what steps to do to implement process automation within your organization and automate key processes within your company this is the post for you.

Automation for businesses

Business process automation can be a great investment irrespective of the industry you belong to. If you’re running a digital eCommerce business you may use marketing automation software to speed up communication with your prospects and convert them sooner. It makes many parts of running a business, like managing employee expenses, easy.

Here's how to know if you're ready for business automation.

Automation as mentioned before frees up human resources but that’s not the only benefit it offers you with:

  • Speeds up complex tasks like adding people to a sales funnel or otherwise streamlining sales.
  • Improves customer service with the help of improved speed and higher efficiency.
  • Decreases training requirements.
  • Reduces errors.
  • Improves compliance at all places making sure companies adhere to regulations.

What are the seven steps of implementing automation in your business?

It all starts with some prep.

1. Start by identifying what to automate

The first thing to do is identify the correct processes and workflows to automate within your organization.

Software can automate and make many business-critical aspects of a business easy to do. It’s best to start with the easiest tasks that bring the greatest set of benefits to the table.

Consider the following questions, as these offer useful insights regarding the processes to automate first:

  • Identify the processes in your business that are the most complex.
  • Identify the processes that are huge time-sucks and require dedicated human resources.
  • Processes that are must-do and have the biggest impact on your business.

Start with an assessment of what percentage of your business you can automate. Establish process parameters that outline the following — complexity, execution frequency and other aspects.

Process documentation is a major aspect of this step. Use your SOPs to identify the duration, level of effort and number of people involved in current process.

Learn more about how to write process documentation.

You can also take advantage of process documentation tools to write faster, easier procedures. Scribe is a smart process documentation tool that creates step-by-step guides — in seconds.

Just turn on the extension and do your work as usual. Scribe will follow along to auto-generate your guide. Like this one.

And once you've captured your process, you can combine it with video, images and more. Scribe Pages lets you combine bite-sized SOPs to create extensive visual documentation.

Here's a Page that helps Asana users kickstart their project management efforts.

{{banner-sops="/banner-ads"}}

You can look at the systems involved and its dangers, think of upstream and downstream processes, and more. Know the amount of money you save when automating different processes.

2. How to validate processes for automation

You may find quite a lot of processes to be quite hard to automate. It’s important to be selective about the processes you want to automate.

Some processes are fairly easy to automate and the key is to identify those processes.

When delving into an automation idea it’s generally best to focus on processes that generate a healthy ROI in a short time.

Examine the correct processes before you automate them. Fix serious problems right away. Ineffective or defective processes will remain the same way even when you automate them. That’s why the key is to spend time and resources to perfect the systems before automating them.

There are two parts to any process. The first part broadly consists of decisions and the second part consists of transactions. Decision-taking accounts for a more complex automation process since it requires AI or machine learning to automate decisions.

What remains next are transactions. They’re generally easy to understand and process as far as automation is considered. It’s easy to automate repetitive tasks that are otherwise straightforward to do.

Validation requires input from the developer as they study all the different moving parts of the different processes and ascertain the complexity of the entire project.

3. Creating automation models

An automation model enlists the different steps that consist of the process. You can continue using these same steps in their order. In other instances, developers can suggest and implement a process design that doesn’t warrant something different.

An automation model is a representation of the different steps or sub-processes that comprise the process. In some cases, you may continue to use the same steps in the same order. In other instances, your developers may require that you opt for a process redesign with new steps to optimize process flow.

Think of form design. Early form design enables end-user validations, which considerably increases the quality of the process as well as its approval.

4. Develop an automation plan

The automation plan will contain a detailed overview of the different steps in the automation model. In addition, you can map out different outcomes too.

The automation plan must cover every possible scenario without which it's easy to fall into the trap of flaws and errors. You may need to include people from different departments to get critical insights that help you develop all possibilities and picture all possible scenarios. 

It’s important to identify all possible cases and configure your software to make these cases for human review.


Do this: Create a flowchart that details the execution logic for your process. The graph can be extended later to add new tasks or even events. It doesn’t have to rely on manual actions or manual decision-making. When creating this flowchart, the first thing to do is book a meeting with your entire team and discuss everything that needs to go into it.

5. Automating the pilot project

At this stage, your software developers can automate processes to create beta versions of the software. This pilot project is critical to the success of automation. Pilot projects help you understand problem areas and help eliminate problems and discover opportunities that allow for improvement.

The beta version is released on a limited basis. Think of it as a trial run that allows you space and time to perfect your automation.

Monitor the key performance indicators related to the project’s objective and cost benefits. Pay attention to the quality of process execution by looking at the number of times the processes were executed. These findings can be used to confirm process design and make improvements.

6. Automation pilot project

Once you collect feedback and have understood the faults of the beta version of your automation software, you can make changes to make it ready for final shipping and formally implement the changes.

Automation requires planning depending on the nature of the process and the team members involved.
Start by assembling your team. Then either during the rollout or while preparing for the rollout verify that the technical activities essential for change management were completed.

The new procedure is now accessible to the entire staff who can now use it to put it into action.

7. Continue monitoring

You cannot simply create automation software without carrying out any monitoring.

Budget out and plan regular updates and maintenance of your automation software. This lets you account for more than improvements helping you ensure that the integrations are present and working on all interconnected platforms.

Automated processes can help you maintain the integrity and efficiency of all business operations. One of the core digital transformation steps is process automation which provides you with operational efficiency, and the capacity to try a variety of automation techniques.

Benefits of automating business processes

RPA or Robotic Process Automation helps you utilize macros or bots to execute particular process tasks. You can even execute a sequential set of activities on autopilot with RPA.

The bots are great at doing high-frequency work. This provides optimization at the lowest level calling for better performance. Bots can free up capacity by carrying out certain processes but there are certain limits on how far can go with process automation.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

ERP systems have been around for long and are well-established in organizations. It’s great for supporting IT infrastructures and carrying out tasks like accounting, materials management, and procurement. ERP systems may lose out on some early use because of high procurement and installation costs.

Process automation without information technology

A growing gap exists between IT-enabled automation and no-code processes.

Support operations managed using spreadsheets, checklists, and emails cause complications. The responsibilities are skewed, unclear, and poorly documented and error-prone support processes lead to endless delays for everyone involved making it difficult to track.

Conclusion: process automation in the future

Process automation will find more users adopting it in the future. All firms have automation in the double-digit range. To meet the challenge you should know about different automation choices, methodologies, and tools.

You can take the elements of process automation to generate the right things at the right time and use this comprehensive set of tools to do the right things.

About the Author

George is a writer and blogger at Kamayobloggers, a site he started to share cutting-edge marketing advice online.