4 Tips for Turning Time-Consuming, Manual Processes Digital
If you study the most productive and efficient organizations in your industry, you’ll find that they’re automating like crazy. In particular, they’re digitizing all of the manual processes that once held them back – and it’s time for you to do the same.
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4 Tips for Digitizing and Automating Processes
The most productive and efficient organizations in today’s business world are the ones that are able to streamline manual processes and turn them into automated (or semi-automated) processes that quietly work in the background and support the creatives and innovators on the front lines of the business. This shift from manual to digital/automated happens through something business leaders call process improvement.
“Process improvement involves the business practice of identifying, analyzing, and improving existing business processes to optimize performance, meet best practice standards or simply improve quality and the user experience for customers and end-users,” Sarah K. White writes for CIO.com.
There are several methodologies businesses use to implement process improvement, but the focus is always the same: Make something simpler, faster, and more efficient. And as you invest in process improvement and digitization, here are several tips you can use to ensure success:
1. Choose the Right Software
Typically, the easiest way to digitize a process is by finding and implementing the right software. There’s software for everything these days. Plus, with SaaS solutions leading the way, it’s fairly easy and inexpensive to make the shift.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re a fleet manager in charge of 125 vehicles. The traditional method of handling work orders with spreadsheets and other basic tools is very time-consuming and easy to mess up. But with fleet maintenance software, you can digitize work order management and automate PM scheduling (both of which are time-consuming processes that have typically required a lot of manual energy and input). This would be an example of a process that could be digitized with software.
2. Set Up Security Measures
Digitizing is great, but it also comes with some level of risk. Anytime your data goes digital, cyber threats come into play. Thankfully, robust security technology means there are plenty of ways to stay protected.
Security ultimately goes back to the importance of software selection. By choosing the right tool, you can gain access to robust encryption for data in motion and data at rest (among other things).
3. Get Team Buy-In
It’s very, very, very important that you bring all key stakeholders into the conversation. While most organizations make the mistake of only considering the opinions of those in the C-level, it’s usually the people outside of the C-suite who spend the most time carrying out the processes. Thus, it stands to reason that you’d pay attention to their needs as well.
Ask employees for feedback on their biggest points of friction. Find out where they’d like to see improvement (or even what their suggestions are for different steps in the process). Not only does this give you ideas, but it also sends a signal that the company brass cares.
4. Leverage Your Data Well
Something interesting happens when companies take a manual process and digitize it. They start to see different numbers than what they’ve known to be true over the years. At first, this is jarring. The knee-jerk reaction is to assume that something is wrong with the technology. But hold off on making that assumption. It’s unlikely that the data is wrong. What’s much more likely is that the process is revealing an issue that you never knew existed. Fix the process, not the data.
Whenever you find yourself thinking something like “I don’t like that number” or “that number has to be wrong,” go a layer deeper and challenge the process behind the data. It’s possible that the data is merely a reflection of a problem that’s always existed and was simply masked by poor reporting. Consider it a great opportunity to improve and grow with clarity. Small mindset shifts can take your business to new heights.
Adding it All Up
Every business is going to take a slightly unique approach to process automation. However, if you apply the principles outlined above, the entire experience will unfold with much greater fluidity and predictability. We recommend starting here.