Intelligent automation has often been called “the express lane” for furthering your digital transformation efforts. And while many organizations pursuing intelligent automation find this to be true, nothing will slow down your progress faster than going in without a solid strategy. To maximize your results and mitigate common obstacles, you need to implement the right intelligent automation tools and plan carefully. But it doesn’t need to be overly complicated.
Let’s dig into the top 5 best practices for intelligent automation success.
5 Best Practices to Lead Your Intelligent Automation Journey
1. Lead with an End-to-End Approach
For best results with intelligent automation, you need to go all-in. Too many organizations skip creating a long-term intelligent automation strategy and jumpstart their journey with a one-off test to fix one minor bottleneck without fleshed-out plans for what comes next. Maybe they apply an AI tool or RPA to a less-than-critical process as a sort of test. If this test’s results aren’t off the charts, this may discourage further implementation.
Instead, look at your processes in their entirety, and leave no stones unturned. Investigate each process in detail by engaging with the people to whom it’s relevant.
Sure, managers and leaders can probably tell you how their departments’ processes should operate. But you can’t stop there. To discover the nitty-gritty of how these processes really work, you need to consult the frontline workers.
They’ve probably mitigated process bottlenecks with their own process improvements, with or without company signoff. This could include phone calls to another department or vendor, software downloads, browser extensions, or extra steps. Regardless, workarounds can’t be overlooked when you’re looking to improve a process with intelligent automation.
2. Aim to Decrease Workloads and Increase Quality
If your employees have sky-high workloads stacked with low-value tasks, nobody’s happy. Their work lives are far from interesting, and your business is missing out on the meaningful outcomes that could result if your staff had time to complete high-value, high-touch work. But intelligent automation gives your employees the opportunity to tackle these value-added tasks, whether they involve high levels of creativity, strategic or innovative thinking, or customer experience (CX) know-how.
To determine which low-value tasks have the highest ROI potential for positive change, examine your process and ask questions like:
- How much does it cost?
- How often does it happen?
- How much does it cost to accomplish this task?
- How many times does an employee perform it?
In more complex cases, it may be worth bringing in process mining tools to pinpoint where these inefficient tasks are occurring.
3. Engage the People Within Your Organization
Any successful digital transformation initiative requires the understanding and buy-in of all employees, and this couldn’t be truer for intelligent automation. To gain your employees’ trust, you need to ensure that they can see themselves represented by your key stakeholders and build cross-functional teams. You can achieve this by:
- Appointing project stakeholders from various departments and levels of your organization early on. Collaborative efforts from IT, operations, finance, sales and marketing, and more are essential for success. Then, these representatives can communicate project progress to their departments and report the feedback back to you.
- Establish cross-functional teams to ensure alignment, communication, and shared ownership of your initiatives.
And as we touched on in best practice #1, you’ll want to ensure that your tech solutions are tailored to the employees who use them and encourage them to take ownership. Get the tools in the hands of your employees, including those who aren’t experienced in development, and show them how to use them in their respective roles. They’ll be glad to have a seat at the table, and your processes will receive gradual improvements from the people who know them best.
4. Realize Intelligent Automation ROI and Value ASAP
Moving too slowly can be highly detrimental to intelligent automation project success. Sure, thorough research and caution are vital in any business decision on this scale, but dragging your heels can backfire with extremely delayed ROI. To keep things moving, be on the lookout for instances where progress may be stalling unnecessarily and address them. Of course, no intelligent automation project will stick to the planned timeline flawlessly, and some stalls can’t be avoided. But proactively monitoring progress will help you stay on track.
Change management is another crucial part of your intelligent automation strategy that’s been proven to help organizations reach a quicker ROI in their digital transformation efforts. And it makes sense: if you implement your new intelligent automation tools and your user adoption is shaky from the start, you won’t be seeing results anytime soon. That’s why it’s so vital to get their buy-in. When approaching change management, here are some key points to cover to get your staff on board:
- The Big Picture “Why”: Explain any market trends or global shifts that explain why you need to make the change.
- The “Why” That Hits Home: Push your corporate goals aside for a moment. Explain to your staff the values driving the change and how they will benefit them. For example, you might say, “We want our processes to reflect our corporate value of work-life balance. When we fix this process, you won’t have to stay late to keep up with your workload anymore – you’ll be able to go home on time or even early even during the busy season.”
- The Internal “Why”: Specify what isn’t working currently within your business processes, and how the proposed change will fix that.
- The Process Behind the “Why”: Explain the logic and thought process that led you to the proposed change. Cover any alternatives you considered and why they were passed on. Additionally, invite feedback, including critiques, of your proposed change and address their concerns head-on. It might even change their minds if they weren’t sure before.
You also need a solution provider that doesn’t just provide. That is, you need an experienced digital transformation partner. Beyond just implementing a solution, your partner should be able to consult with you to ensure that your tech investment and solution design are in line with your vision and goals. They should also be able to offer support post-implementation according to your needs. With this partnership, you’ll end up with a more tailored solution and the aid necessary to see results sooner.
5. Find the Right Intelligent Automation Tools for You
When it comes to intelligent automation solutions, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each tool has its own set of strengths and use cases that make it more suitable for some scenarios than others. That’s why it’s so important to know your broken process inside and out, as we’ve already discussed.
While this decision is worthy of extensive research and consultation with your digital transformation partner, here’s a list of potential tools and some of their use cases to get you started:
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA): These tools automate repetitive, rule-based tasks, such as data entry, form filling, and data extraction from documents. They’re commonly applied across industries to reduce manual labor and errors.
- Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: Chatbots and virtual assistants powered by natural language processing (NLP) and AI can handle customer inquiries, provide support, and assist with routine tasks. They are commonly used in customer service, e-commerce, and healthcare for appointment scheduling and FAQs.
- AI-Powered Data Extraction: Intelligent bots powered by AI components like natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) can significantly improve your data extraction accuracy. While standard OCR technology is limited to structured data and rigid templates, intelligent technology can extract unstructured data from images, PDFs, or handwritten documents. The bots then use AI to comprehend the document’s context, allowing it to learn and make more informed and accurate decisions.
- Process Mining Software: Process mining tools analyze and visualize business processes to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and opportunities for improvement. They are commonly used in operations and process optimization.
Additionally, be on the lookout for highly customizable and configurable solutions. They are a huge value-add. They enable user involvement, a key component of a successful intelligent automation strategy, by allowing all employees, including non-developers, to play an active role in process improvement. You’ll find these capabilities in low-code platforms with point-and-click and drag-and-drop building tools.
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Start Your Intelligent Automation Journey Confidently
Intelligent automation is well-equipped to deliver savings, efficiency boosts, and a remarkable work-life balance upgrade. You and your employees deserve all of these benefits, and if you mind these best practices and move strategically, you’ll maximize them and achieve intelligent automation success now and far into the future. If you’re looking for additional guidance on your intelligent automation strategy, we’d be happy to help. Drop a question in the chat below to start the conversation.
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