Start small and finish big; the key to successful process automation

April 5, 20220 CommentGeneral , How-To

We assume that you accept that, thanks to process automation, your employees need less time, make fewer mistakes, and your organization performs better.  Now, where do you start, and how do you finish process automation successfully?  Start small and finish big! 

The pitfall of a big and bold challenge!

No doubt you have read that you should automate the most critical process first. The process with the most bottlenecks and the biggest improvement potential.  Then the next one in line, and so on.  

You may wonder whether that is a sensible approach.  After all, if you, for example, decide to run the marathon, you don’t start with 42 km first.  And then each time a little shorter track.  No, you do it the other way around, and you know why.  If you start immediately on the most significant part, there is a very good chance that you will not make it to the finish line.  Or get there much later than necessary and with injuries.  Even with the very best guidance and support!  

So you should consider whether “Start small and finish big” is a better approach for you.


Start small and finish BIG.

It is no different with process automation; you start with a process that you know well, not too important, but substantial enough.  You get to work with that, and you quickly achieve your first success; your process is automated!  Then you tackle a slightly more important and difficult process, with slightly more bottlenecks.  You will see that with your gained experience, you automate this process also successfully.  You do this until you have successfully automated your most crucial process.


First the foundation, then the walls and finally the roof.

The beauty of this approach is that when you eventually start to automate the most critical process, you know very well how to solve all of that successfully.  After all, you have used your automation tool’s various possibilities earlier. And often, several less important processes support more critical processes.  If you automate your primary process first and then the supporting ones, it’s like putting a roof on top of a house without having any walls and foundation ready.


Divide and control!

Now that it is clear where you start, you also want to know how to automate it successfully.  There is really,  no rocket science behind that. You simply pick up a pile of cases you have already processed, for example, in the past year.  You divide that pile into three smaller piles, with the most common “standard and easy things” (about 75%) in the first pile.  In the second pile, you put the more complex and less frequent cases (about 20%); the third pile then contains the demanding and occasionally occurring cases (the remaining 5%).


Focus on the rule, not the exception.

Take the largest pile, the one with 75% of all cases. Record which activities your employees perform, which decisions they make, which officials are involved and which other systems they use (and what they do). Record this process description in your No-Code workflow management software tool. When you have recorded that process, check whether the 75% of the cases are indeed correctly processed by the automated process. If there are still errors, fix them first before moving to the next step.

You can easily change the process with your No-Code workflow management software tool. And that is precisely what we are going to do now.  Take the second stack (with 20% of the cases), and describe and automate it, just like the easy 75%.  You will see that you only need to make a few changes to your existing process. Check that the 75% and the 20% cases are processed correctly and resolve any errors.  Finally, take the remaining 5% most challenging cases and repeat the process one more time.


Don’t make automating processes complex and time-consuming.

You might wonder why we recommend automating a process in three rounds and not all at once?  There are several reasons for this.  We will mention two of them.

First of all, if we want to do everything at once, we start with spending a lot of time and effort on the 5% of most challenging cases.  That leads to many meetings with lengthy and intense debates whether something is an exception or a standard case – with the consequence that it takes a long time before (part of the) process is automated.

Secondly, the practice also shows that the processes become unnecessarily complex by wanting to do everything in one go.  That process automation approach takes more time than the total time of when  you divide it into three parts, and often with a greater risk of misunderstandings and errors.

In summary: Successful process automation? Start small and finish BIG!

Do you want to know more?

Would you like to discuss the benefits of process automation with no code, what the benefits are for you and how you can automate your processes or do you have other questions?

Please feel free to contact us.  We like to think along with you:

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