Organizations have increasingly realized that digital transformation is the key to meeting the challenges of the current environment. Companies that embrace this transformation head-on find they are met with a significant competitive advantage. Workflow automation is a proven cornerstone of this transformation, providing you with the flexibility to enable rapid response and agility.
Almost everything we do during the day is part of a process, whether we realize it or not, whether it is sanctioned or not, whether it is useful or not. One thing we learned during the pandemic was that some of these processes ought to be automated and some not: we struggled with automated schooling and asynchronous learning, but discovered the benefits of grocery delivery – between the first and fourth quarter of 2020, there was a 9% increase in seniors using Instacart.
Understanding when process is process
Automation can be ambiguous: there is value in the “weak ties” that we build when we buy a cup of coffee in person instead of through an app. Not all processes must be automated in order to work best.
But processes in the workplace are different. And the ones we don’t realize are processes end up taking longer, exposing more risk, and, at the end of the day, making our lives a little bit worse.
Every signed document, for example, is part of a larger story: approvals are almost always involved, and before approvals discussion, and before collaboration someone’s request. Often, these processes don’t feel like larger stories because we just see ourselves touch one part of them, usually through our email inbox.
The same is true for spreadsheets: what may seem like a single location where information is stored is more often a place where the information drifts up — ad hoc requests, shared ownership, and non-required fields make spreadsheets a huge source of error. The way to improve on a spreadsheet is to remember that, like a contract, it is the end of the process, not the process itself.
One of the most important steps a company takes when it embraces digital transformation and enterprise automation is to begin seeing processes for what they are, and to begin seeing tasks and outputs as part of larger processes.
Legacy products and homegrown solutions, which understand that a process is a process, require heavy IT involvement and support, limiting how many processes can be streamlined in a given period. They also tend to involve higher maintenance and updating costs.
Digital transformation as a watchword asks us to think beyond outdated solutions and pieces that aren’t already conceived of as processes. It demands that we zoom out and look at the bigger picture: how the various pieces that touch us and our work touch each other. Enterprise workflow automation is the number one way we automate the processes that have eluded us.
It’s time to see tasks as part of a larger story, and it’s time for transformational technology to empower departments and companies to begin writing the stories themselves.