Make sure you consider these steps along the way in your no-code automation journey
When building an automation program, it’s easy to envision the potential of applying technology to many disparate processes, systems, or departments. But to get there, you’ll need to have a proper plan and clear KPIs that measure success and align with corporate goals.
Here is a brief introduction to best practices for automation projects from our no-code implementation playbook.
Identify ownership, stakeholders and governance
A majority (78%) of organizations surveyed in Catalytic’s data study said they take a centralized approach to automation, where the purchase decision and implementation is owned by a single team—usually the C-suite or IT. Only 22% distribute this responsibility across departments and teams, with multiple stakeholders across the organization.
However, those companies with a distributed approach saw a higher likelihood of employees believing their automations were more successful and scalable ahead of industry peers.
"The label is less important than making sure there is structure in place that works for your company..."
The bottom line: The more stakeholders you involve throughout your automation journey—from C-suite down to frontline managers—the better you'll be able to meet everyone's automation needs and reduce burden on IT.
When you have your stakeholders, start to map out roles and responsibilities to create a governance framework. Explore types of governance structures—like federated, decentralized, Center of Excellence—or come up with your own.
The label is less important than making sure there is structure in place that works for your company in preparation for support, training, roadmap building, automating and driving scale, adoption and continuous improvement that will cross organizational boundaries.
Spend time on process discovery and reengineering
Now, how to decide what you are actually going to automate? With your group of stakeholders, you can begin to brainstorm.
For processes that already exist, consider a bit of reengineering. Automating an inefficient process doesn’t make it efficient. In fact, automation will only highlight the inherent weaknesses in your operations.
Many companies are putting in the legwork necessary to maximize the ROI of automation technology by pulling in process experts in tandem with automation efforts. In a 2020 Forrester survey of process professionals, more than 29% planned to increase the use of Lean/Six Sigma to support process improvement efforts.
Select key performance metrics
It’s important to identify target Key Performance Indicators before implementing the technology. That way you can track automation success from the beginning, then on a month-to-month or quarterly basis to see the data-driven evidence of your automated workflows’ effectiveness, ROI and opportunities to improve.
Here are some sample KPIs to consider:
- Employee productivity/output
- Cost savings
- Employee satisfaction
- Customer satisfaction
Whether qualitative, quantitative—or both—define what success looks like to you. Measuring the success of an automation program upfront is one of the often overlooked steps in the journey.
Prioritize use cases and build
When you have your stakeholders, list of use cases and success criteria, it’s time to prioritize which processes to tackle first, then get to work on building.
Typically, you’ll want to give priority to use cases that have the highest level of business urgency and potential impact on your KPIs and the lowest amount of building effort.
Create your ideal timeline for building, testing and deployment and key benchmarks for progress. With the right no-code tool, drafting, testing, versioning, review and publish controls will be built in.
Consider change management and employee buy-in
More than 90% of employees report they are familiar with the concept of automation, and a majority believe it will make their jobs easier. This implies a better understanding of the concept and more ubiquitous adoption across industries.
But Catalytic finds that employees who were hesitant with the concept or who were not interested in using it in their own roles knew very little about it due to a lack of top-down communication.
"More than 90% of employees report they are familiar with the concept of automation, and a majority believe it will make their jobs easier."
Build your key messages and link them to the company goals. What are the changes, what is the timing, and most importantly, what does the change mean to the audience? It is critical that you share the "what does it mean to me?" Your audience is thinking it and likely will ask.
Break your message into manageable chunks in the forms that fit your culture best. Whether that means all-hands meetings, emails, slides, blog posts, executive updates, Slack announcements, or a combo of it all, make sure these pieces are chosen thoughtfully to rally the whole team behind you.
Make continuous improvements
Traditionally, many automation programs approach use cases as project-based implementations with a defined “finish line.” Aside from requiring some updates and maintenance, changes and continuous improvements of these types of technologies are very difficult once built.
That’s no longer the case. With the right no-code workflow automation platform and insights from your KPIs, your success framework should be more like a cycle that has continuous improvement as the goal that closes the loop.
Make sure your team not only has the resources to dedicate to building new solutions, but that they set aside time for advancing existing workflows, so your program can easily stay agile to feedback, new market conditions, organizational changes, and opportunities to innovate.