In my last post “The Automation Technology Starter Question,” I provided some guidelines on where to start on selecting business process automation technologies. In this post I cover the topic of what business process to automate when starting out on a Proof of Concept (PoC). This question is easier to answer for organizations that have specific requirements or pain points. Other organizations aiming to simply increase operational efficiency would have many more candidate processes. Whether your organization is in the first or the second group, the dullest of your dreariest business processes could be the winner of the automation contest. The difference between the two groups is the range of processes to choose from. The first group of organizations would have to find the process from among the known problem areas while the second group would need to do the same form a larger portfolio.
Definition of Dull
A dull process is highly repetitive – the sort that drives staff into a zombie state of mind on a daily basis leading to high attrition rates. This could include:
- Simple but large data entry workloads such as order processing
- More complex and still repetitive tasks such as those that involve checking a number of systems and updating the same pieces of data and status information in all of them, e.g. ,notifications of customer change of circumstance
The swivel chair is another good indicator for a process needing automation (if not deeper system integration) – when a crick in the neck from turning from one screen to another comes as part of the job.
Dull process examples
Most organizations have these, and I have no doubt that they will all be automated in the next few years. Examples include:
- Processing of insurance information such as premium advice notes
- Changing customers from one mobile/cell phone plan to another
- Entering orders placed on the web into an order processing system.
Getting staff on-board
While the threat of job losses as a result of automation is real, there continues to be a shortage of skills and experience in many parts of the world. In many organizations, automation can enable staff to move upward or across to other and more interesting processes. Identifying opportunities for staff early will help to successfully implement change. Some of the most successful deployments include those that had their staff on-board from the beginning. These have seen automations become part of the team.
Again, when it comes to an automation PoC, let process dullness be your guide.