In today’s tech driven environment, streamlining operations to increase efficiency and cost savings is an essential part of almost every job. Automation is a buzzword heard everywhere, but oftentimes manager’s don’t know how to get started setting the foundation for automation in their business. This guide will demonstrate how automation can help achieve efficiencies by reducing repetitive tasks and allowing more time for strategic activities. We’ll go over how to identify processes that can benefit the most from automation and gain practical insights on where to begin the modernization journey, even before a tool (like Microsoft’s Power Automate 😉 ) is chosen.
Step 1: Identify the Repetitive Tasks
Identifying processes that could benefit from automation involves recognizing the repetitive tasks that consume the team’s time. These tasks are important to the business, but do not require a high level of skill or expertise. Common examples of repetitive tasks include:
- Data entry
- Form filling
- Email sending
- Report generation
So essentially automation takes care of the boring stuff, freeing up time for everyone. That means less copy-pasting, more big-picture thinking. The way I prefer to think about it is that the less time we spend on mundane tasks, the more we can focus on making cool things happen!
Step 2: Analyze the Business Processes
Once you’ve identified the repetitive or manual tasks, the next step is to analyze the business processes involved with those tasks. Start by mapping out the process from start to finish, including all the steps and stakeholders involved. Microsoft Visio is a great tool for this, but PowerPoint works just as well for mind mapping if you don’t already have a preferred tool of choice. When you are mapping out the process, besides from mapping out every step, its important to consider:
- What are your goals and objectives with this process?
- What are the roles and responsibilities involved in this process?
- What are the resources and data needed to ensure the right outcome?
- What are potential challenges to this process going right?
Step 3: Consider the Impact on Your Team
When considering how automation will impact these processes, it’s important to consider the impact on your team. Automation can improve productivity and efficiency, but it will also change the way your team works in a fundamental way. Some team members can feel uncomfortable with change or new technology, so be sure to include these team members in parts of the automation planning where appropriate to get their buy-in.
It’s crucial to ensure that all team members understand the purpose and benefits of automation, as this can help to overcome any resistance to change. Try to encourage open communication and collaboration among team members, and provide ample training and support to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the new processes.
Step 4: Evaluate the ROI
Before implementing any automation, it’s important to evaluate the return on investment (ROI). Implementing new processes can be expensive and time consuming depending on the size of the process, so you want to make sure that the benefits outweigh the costs.
Consider the time and resources required to implement automation and compare that to the time and cost savings that will be generated. If you are a Microsoft 365 user, you already have access to Power Automate, which is an excellent tool for automating a variety of business processes.
Step 5: Start Small and Scale Up
Let’s think of automation like a game of Jenga. You wouldn’t remove all the pieces from the tower at once, right? Same deal here – trying to automate everything in one shot could end up causing the tower to collapse rather than a masterstroke. Instead, pick one process, or even just a slice of one, to start with. It’s like removing the first block slowly and steadily.
As you see the first bit of automation have an impact on the organization, you’ll start to see what works, what doesn’t, and where you can make tweaks. Consider each of these automated steps as a small win that pile up over time, making your business leaner and more efficient.
After you’ve got the first process running smoothly, you can start looking at the next. The more processes you automate – the easier it becomes to see where else automation could help. Slow and steady is usually a better approach to ensuring organizational buy-in.
Alright, so there’s the game plan. Use those steps above to spot where automation could step in and make your operations run smoother. But don’t go at it alone – your team’s insights are invaluable in this process. They’re the folks on the ground who’ll really feel the benefits of these changes, so their input is gold.
Start with small, manageable tasks. It’s all about making steady progress towards your automation goals, bit by bit. No need to rush – Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? With a clear vision and a bit of patience, you’ll find automation not just a buzzword but a real driver, pushing your business forward to bigger and better things.
For more reading, check out some of the helpful workflow planning content from Microsoft: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/power-automate/guidance/planning/process-design