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Change doesn’t have to be the enemy of automation

Debunking automation myths about RPA, continuous improvement and change management

Automation technology has come a long way. And it will continue to evolve. With the right approach, staying agile and evolving with change should be part of the plan, not throw a wrench in it or add more friction.

Let's explore a few automation myths that might be holding you back:

  1. That automation always means Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  2. It is a one-and-done project with a “finish line”
  3. That it adds friction or barriers to adoption

If your strategy is boxed into these assumptions, scaling, maintenance and continuous improvement will be an uphill battle. But it doesn't have to be.

Here’s the reality.

RPA is just the tip of the iceberg

Traditional RPA (also called bots or surface automation) was invented in the late 90s and is one of the more common forms of automation you’ll find in enterprises today.

Using bots to automate repetitive tasks in your company with very specific parameters can make a large impact. It’s best for repetitive, screen-based tasks that don’t require human judgement or too many dynamic steps across a multi-step process. And for processes unlikely to face much change.

However, in the practical world, there are few use cases that don’t actually require people, or that don’t face the potential for change at any given moment. So what happens when you need automation assistance in a more dynamic, longer-tail and semi-human dependent workflow? Or when there is a change to the process an RPA bot is doing?

Trying to stretch the limits of RPA gets hard to scale, creating more fragility and never-ending maintenance.

A no-code workflow automation platform takes a more modern approach with data-based, dynamic workflows. Think of it like building a digital assembly line. Some stages on the line can include routing tasks for people, while other tasks along the line get completed automatically. RPA can even be added as its own custom, individual workstation, so these results can be connected and more flexible to the rest of the process.

The right platform will have a data-based digital infrastructure at the core that acts like the conveyor belt to keep all steps in the process moving, visible and agile to dynamic changes or improvements at any time.

Automation shouldn’t have a finish line

Traditional tools like RPA, Business Process Automation (BPM), Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS), even low/no-code app development are usually treated as a project-based implementation. There is a lot of upfront process mining, reengineering, rip-and-replacement, heavy development and change management before a major deployment. But after crossing the “finish line,” these projects often fall to the back burner for upkeep maintenance, with little room for continuous improvement or evolution.

This is not only a lot of technical maintenance added to the backlog, but once-current automations and solutions can become outdated quickly. Processes, customer needs, market conditions, company environment, as well as the latest technology available can change quickly.

What if an automation platform allowed for quicker, lighter weight creation, then had evolution and adaptation in mind? And what if it didn’t require a complete overhaul each time you wanted to improve the process?

The modular, dynamic structure of automated workflows built with a no-code workflow platform makes them low-maintenance, and open to changes, updates, and improvements in real time. It’s just a matter of adding, swapping, and testing different building blocks in your process.

When workflows are built this way, you can not only adapt to outside factors, but innovate and make the tech even smarter over time. You can have the agility to adapt your digital processes to sudden, unforeseen changes to the market, your organization, operations, or supply chain. Built in process data can give you operational intelligence and insights into bottlenecks or common errors, so you can make quick improvements.

You can even start with a basic workflow automation that routes tasks and people in order to standardize your process, then gradually add more automated features to save people’s time and innovate.

Automation is best when unseen

Too much change can be disruptive to productivity, team collaboration, management, culture and even customer experience. This is another reason why many technologists and employees fear change when it comes to technology and automation.

When traditional automation tech is rolled out, or gets updates or changes, an app interface or process can suddenly look different or require different steps, causing confusion or requiring training. With modern workflow automation, much of the process orchestration and automation happens in the background.

These workflows can be seamlessly integrated into the irreplaceable apps we already use, like email, Microsoft Office products, Slack, Salesforce and more. So while creating or making changes to an automated workflow on a no-code platform can create more efficiency and add new functionality, employees’ day-to-day view can remain relatively unchanged.

In this way, automation is best when invisible and embedded into workflows, making quick tech progress and smooth change management attainable.

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Written by Catalytic