Process automation: closing the gap between expectation and reality

The Red Moki Team
November 1, 2019

At Red Moki we’re all about delivering workflow automation solutions that lead to real productivity gains for our clients.

There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the transformational results of a new solution that takes away the pain of an old paper-based system, replacing it with a seamless, easy-to-use digital solution that simplifies and de-stresses the workday for staff.

But getting from the vision to the reality of these types of transformations isn’t necessarily an easy journey.

When CIOs around the world were surveyed recently on the progress their organisations were making in terms of process automation and workflow digitisation, the finding could be summed up as a mix of good and bad news.

On the positive side, more than half the CIOs surveyed said they had significantly increased budget for workflow digitisation. That’s a good indication that there’s growing awareness of the business benefits that process automation can bring to an organisation.

However, on the downside, the survey revealed fewer than 20 percent of the same CIOs felt that they were “highly effective” when it came to using emerging technologies to transform services and operations. This meant the majority were still facing challenges when it came to equipping employees with digital tools to manage workflows. Even educating their organisations about new technology and changes to workflows was problematic.

The survey was commissioned for ServiceNow’s Workflow Quarterly publication, and canvassed the views of more than 500 CIOs globally, including a handful in New Zealand.

The analysis around the survey is well worth a read if you’re facing these types of challenges in your own organisation.

While closing the gap between expectation and reality around process automation may be an area many CIOs are struggling with, it doesn’t have to be.

As one of the Workflow Quarterly articles accompanying the survey points out, there are four components of a good digital workflow strategy:

Step 1: Tie digitisation goals to business goals

Many CIOs reported they struggled to link process automation back to tangible business benefits, but as one pointed out, that link needs to be clear, otherwise there’s no point progressing with this type of digitisation project.

He told Workflow Quarterly he asks his team: “What are the things that have to be true technically for the business to be able to achieve those business goals by 2021?” The answer becomes his digitisation goal.

Step 2: Have a standard process for digitising workflows

The survey found almost eight out of ten CIOs have a standard process for digitising workflows across functions, but given the scope of processes involved in running their organisations, many still struggle to figure out which are the opportunities ripe for improvement.

To overcome this problem, ServiceNow CIO Chris Bedi recommends organisations devise a digital assessment to standardise the process for each business line and then create a digital maturity “heat map” that visualises all the smaller processes where friction could slow down what have been identified as the priority workflows that need tackling.

Step 3: Collaborate across the C-suite and integrate IT into the business

As the article points out, no matter how strategic a CIO’s initiatives, no automation project will get traction without buy-in from the business owners and employees whose processes are being targeted for transformation.

One way to achieve that buy-in is by integrating technology teams responsible for digitising a workflow directly into the business function. As one of the surveyed CIOs put it, this approach, by its nature, creates a sense of “collaboration and shared goals,” and in turn produces results.

Step 4: Embrace a test-and-learn mindset

When it comes to workflow automation, keep in mind that you don’t need to eat the entire pie in a single bite.

One of the surveyed CIOs explains in the article how he began a digitisation initiative with a small subset of customers to see how they would react. Over the course of around six months and many iterations, they enhanced and matured the product before rolling it out to the entire market.

Using design-thinking, journey mapping, and an iterative, minimum-viable-product approach to development can prove effective.

Find out more

There are many other great learnings in Workflow Quarterly’s coverage of how CIOs can help reshape their organisations to through effective workflow digitisation.

We’d encourage you to browse through the material. And of course, if you find the issues raised resonate with you – and perhaps mirror some of the challenges your organisation is facing – we’d be happy to talk through the options for making your digitalisation plans a reality in the most effective and efficient way possible.