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Four Obstacles to Automation – and How to Overcome them

By Amy Grendus on December 4, 2018

Automation has been revolutionizing every industry it touches for decades now.  Recent developments in AI and robotics have only accelerated this impact, making “automation” the word on everyone’s lips.

But the day to day processes in many organizations can paint a very different picture.  Users cling to the comfort of paper forms.  Managers seek solace in ‘the way things have always been done’.  This type of thinking can leave companies at a huge disadvantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace.  If your competitors embrace automation while you hold back, what do you stand to lose?

So, what obstacles are standing in your way?  Let’s look at some typical roadblocks to successful automation and how to move past them.

1. Automation will Negatively Impact Job Security

There is no doubt that automation is causing an economic shift, but we need not look at all automation as the enemy of job security. Consider the example of a recent Elantis client whose manual accounts payable process resulted in several hours of manual data entry, filing, tracking, and follow up each day. Each invoice would take between 7 to 10 days to move from initial entry to approval and payment.  After working with Elantis to automate the entire Accounts Payable process, the approval and payment cycle has been reduced from over a week to a few hours. Notably, rather than becoming redundant, the accounting staff can now focus on higher value work. When staff are freed from mind-numbing processes, they are free to generate new ideas, make a greater impact, and do the job they were hired to do.

Forrester Research was commissioned to study the potential return on investment by deploying the Nintex Workflow platform to automate business processes. Forrester’s interviews with customers together with their financial analysis found an 8%-15% gains in employee productivity.  The more productive an employee is, the more they can rest assured their job is secure.

 

2. Organizational Resistance to Change

It is a normal human reaction to be cautious of the unknown.  Perhaps your organization has invested in process improvements in the past only to be hampered by slow user adoption or worse – active resistance. Structured change management processes can help ease this transition.

For example, the ADKAR model is a research-based, change process that represents the five milestones an individual must achieve to change successfully. ADKAR creates a powerful internal language for change and gives leaders a framework for helping people embrace new processes.  The milestones are:

  1. Awareness of the need for change.
  2. Desire to support the change.
  3. Knowledge of how to change.
  4. Ability to demonstrate new skills and behaviors.
  5. Reinforcement to make the change stick.

This method underscores the need for communication when making a change to any processes.  Transparency is critical before, during, and after the change is implemented.  This creates buy in from users and alleviates resistance to change.

 

3. Automation is Too Expensive

Using configuration, rather than custom code means you can develop applications at a fraction of the cost.  Because Nintex natively includes functionality such as responsive forms design for mobile devices and tablets, offline functionality, voice to text dictation, bar code reading, GPS location services, approvals, task reminders, and escalations, and more, applications can be made quickly and tailored to your unique business requirements.  Elantis experts can typically create a solution for 60-70% less than custom application development.

In the Forrester Research study referenced above, organizations who implemented business process automation had a 176% ROI and saw payback within 10.5 months.

 

4. Uncertainty About Where to Start

The world of automation is vast.  If you are new to it, how do you know where to start to get the most value from your investment?

Start with something simple but useful, for example an inspection report, a leave request form, an accounting or contracts process.Often much time is consumed with low value tasks such as locating, tracking and reporting this type of data.  Beginning with these activities can teach you much about your organization and provide a platform for an incremental approach, preparing you for larger automation projects.

Once you have some automation in place, analytics tools such as Nintex Hawkeye and ProMapp allow you to easily monitor and analyze business processes – giving you the information you need to further optimize the automation process.  Using powerful visuals, organizations can clearly understand the length of time needed to complete each stage of a process, and allocate more resources where needed.

Forrester’s research also showed that with Nintex, organizations can easily make changes as processes evolve, and that the reliance on IT for automation is greatly reduced—boosting productivity gains for both IT and the rest of the business.

Need more information on how to start automating your processes? Let our experts guide you.

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