Process automation offers a wide range of benefits for businesses, from added efficiency in workflows to improved invoice processing to better HR management and more. But technology is not only about business—it’s also about people and making their jobs easier and more fulfilling. When you approach technology from the perspective of helping people, you improve both morale and productivity, which inherently also helps the business. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. When you approach technology as a means to an end, you may solve specific problems, but you miss out on those compounding effects.
Process automation technology is no different. You can take technologies like RPA and intelligent automation to new heights by focusing on people.
4 Ways to Prioritize People with Process Automation
1. Don’t be a knee-jerk problem-solver. It’s always tempting to solve problems that crop up. But reactionary solutions are less like solutions and more like a game of Whac-A-Mole. Solving problems this way seems to prioritize people, but all it really does is prioritize problems. This creates a messy house of cards, with individual tech used to treat individual problems—and none of them laddering up to company goals.
Instead, start by understanding challenges from your employees’ perspectives. How do these inefficiencies impact their daily work experience (see #2)? What are the contributing factors? What are the risks of change? When you do this at every juncture in the process and look at things from end to end, you have the opportunity to prioritize people and their needs every step of the way.
2. Focus on the user experience. While business goals should be the primary driver of any thoughtful strategy, don’t lose sight of the folks behind the curtain. Let’s look at employee onboarding, for example. Typically, this is a mix of getting signed up within the company networks and portals, signing paperwork and procuring computer equipment. Let’s say you realize this process is taking longer than it should.
If you prioritize your tasks first, you might look at the various portals and decide that a better process would include just one portal. So, you get to work designing a new single portal for all your new hires to use.
If you prioritize people, you look at the user experience end-to-end, understanding what’s working, what’s not, and why, and maybe interviewing some SMEs. In doing so, you might learn that, while a single portal would be helpful, it’s actually the manual paperwork causing the most significant delays.
In this scenario, if you prioritized task-level improvement, you would have invested time and money into building a new portal and improved one segment of onboarding—but the original problem of manual paperwork would remain because it wasn’t even
on the radar.
By prioritizing your users—your employees—and their user experience, you can solve challenges with a 360-degree perspective. This is not only a more effective approach to problem-solving, but it also directly supports your team and their needs.
3. Make automation accessible, available and for everyone. Technology isn’t a secret weapon. As you implement process automation, roll it out in a way that democratizes technology, maximizing its benefits for all. Many process automation tools are now specifically designed with the business user in mind. Take advantage of these features and include teams at all levels,
not just IT.
4. Build and stick to a smart communications plan. It’s probably not surprising that change is stressful. But did you know it has also been shown to impact performance negatively? According to Gartner, 73% of change-affected employees experience moderate to high-stress levels—and those who do tend to perform 5% worse than the average employee. Ouch. Take the stress out of the equation by communicating early and often about what changes are coming and more importantly, why.
Are your employees excited to get relief from a new digital team? Or are they anxious about potential job losses? Ease fears and drive enthusiasm with a communications plan that helps everyone stay on the same page. Encourage questions and commit to answering them honestly. Employee morale can directly impact your potential for success with process automation, and great communication can make all the difference.
If you need guidance on implementing process automation, our process experts are here to help. Get in touch any time.