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Automating Business Processes: The Five Steps You Need to Take to Get it Right

The benefits of business process automation (BPA) are unarguable. By automating all the repetitive, time-consuming tasks that keep your day-to-day business running, you can cut operating costs and free up time for you and your team to do more of the things that matter. 

But just because the benefits are plain to see, it doesn’t mean achieving them is straightforward. If you launch into BPA without a plan – or with the wrong plan – you’re likely to end up with confusion, internal resistance, and doing the opposite of what you set out to achieve.  

So, what does getting it right look like? These are the business process automation steps you need to take to make your move to greater efficiency. 

 

The key steps to business process automation

Transforming an enterprise through automation can’t be rushed. It requires time and patience. And it’s a process that is as much about people as it is technology – which is why these steps for automating business processes are about bringing key stakeholders into the project and transferring knowledge as you identify, design and implement the changes you want to make. 

 

Step one: Assess

This step is about selecting which business processes you’re going to start automating first. Of course, in time you can aim for ‘all of them’, but in the initial phase, we recommend no more than ten. 

But which? To help you decide, we’ve developed a process assessment tool that can help you streamline your thinking. The tool assesses:

• Business impact – how much value will automating this process add?
• Process maturity – what level of process understanding currently exists?
• Complexity – what level of complexity exists in terms of integration; process flows and business rules? 

By assigning each process a score, you can identify which are the optimal processes to automate so you can demonstrate value quickly and maintain buy-in.

Once you complete the assessment, we strongly suggest selecting processes with high business impact, medium complexity and high maturity scores. This will allow those working on the project  to learn the new technology while having a significant effect on your business processes and organization as a whole.

process assessment matrix.png

 

Step two: Design

There are two parts to the design phase, one on functional needs and the other on technical requirements. 

i)  Functional – This is about taking what you need in a business and defining it in terms of the solutions that will meet those needs. It’s critical that all the relevant users and team members are consulted during this phase to make sure all user requirements are fully represented. 

ii)  Technical – This stage then translates all the work above into a technical design document that defines all the technical details and specifications of the solution so best practices can be shared with everyone who needs them. 

Once the documents are complete, it is crucial to have them approved by the different stakeholders prior to the build stage as they will define the building path. 


Step three: Build

Now it’s time to start putting all the planning into action. By turning the technical details and specifications outlined above into a tangible solution, you can model, develop, and integrate all the components that form the application. 

Throughout this phase, you should focus on measurability: structuring data, developing and validating templates, and configuring the behaviors of fields along with supporting business rules and policies. This is where you will capture the logic of the process and transform a business process into an application. 

During the build stage, it is highly recommended to present the progress of the application, how the information will be displayed and how documents will be generated to ensure everything is being built in line with the initial specifications. 


Automate business processes with minimal coding in Bizagi Studio.

 

Step four: Certify

This is the stage to check your workings. Before you start implementing in the production environment, this is the chance to make sure the solution meets the business requirements specified at the beginning of the project. 

To ensure all specifications are met it is highly recommended to involve as many end-users as possible. Everyone who will have a role in the process must test it and any feedback or suggestion must be considered as an improvement opportunity. 

 

Step five: Implement

You’re ready to go live. We recommend developing a structured plan to make sure each project goal is achieved as you move into the production environment. As always, there are likely to be unforeseen issues that crop up during this phase, so make sure you factor in time to address these.

As you move to this stage, make sure you communicate the go-live of the project to your entire organization – let them know why the change is happening and the benefits it will bring. 

 

Managing the change 

Managing the change for your people is just as important as the technical changes. Alongside the business process automation steps outlined above, we’d recommend running a change management program (ours is based on the ADKAR Change Management model) to raise awareness, educate and integrate the changes within your teams. This gives you a far higher probability of the process change being accepted. 

See how we put these steps into practice for pharmaceuticals company Takeda, delivering cost savings in just ten weeks.

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