Whether it’s because your company’s growth is exploding and you want to streamline and move faster, or you’re just looking for additional ways to improve efficiency, there comes a time in every business’ journey when process automation becomes the clear next step.
Business process automation has an array of benefits that simply can’t be ignored when you’re looking to improve your bottom line, like time and money savings and the possibility of reclaiming office space currently being used for document storage. So as you embark on your process automation journey, here are three key questions to ask yourself:
Which departments need help?
It’s not realistic to automate many departments at once. Process automation requires a strategic approach, with careful planning to ensure you’re targeting the right steps, and post-implementation tests and tweaks to ensure the automation solution is working perfectly. Only once a solution has proven successful with documented results should it be rolled out to other areas of your business.
Working with a trusted document management provider will make this process much simpler. They’ll help tweak each workflow until it’s just what you want, then lead you through the process of rolling out the automation solution to your other departments.
But how do you decide which department to start with? Simple: ask your employees. Their familiarity with the ins and outs of the department gives them the best insights into what’s working and what’s not.
Ask the head of each department to meet with their employees to discuss the pain points they face as they do their work. Then, meet with the department heads to discuss each department’s unique challenges and identify which department could benefit the most from automation. Your ultimate choice will likely depend on multiple factors including what’s best for employee productivity and morale, what will save your business the most money, and how your company can gain and maintain a competitive advantage.
Which processes are causing the pain points?
Once you’ve identified which department to start with, you can go back to its list of pain points and start to dig deeper. Which process is each one associated with? For example, if a department is struggling to pay invoices on time, the issue could be a slow invoice approval process, but it could also start all the way back in the mailroom where invoices are received.
That’s why it’s so important to take a close look at each “painful” process – mapping the processes visually can be useful here. How long does the entire process take from end to end? What is the ultimate goal of the process? What is the goal of each step, and who is responsible?
Make sure the employees involved in the process are informing the research here, and that you’re being honest and mapping the actual process, including bottlenecks and weaknesses – not the process as it’s supposed to go in an ideal world. By understanding where exactly breakdowns occur, you’ll be able to more effectively decide what to automate.
Which parts of a process can be automated?
Not every step of a process is a good candidate for automation. Here are a few common processes that slow businesses down and can easily be automated:
- Processing and routing paperwork
- Manual data entry
- Receiving and distributing mail
- Collecting information via paperwork
- Responding to simple customer service queries
Examples of process automation
Need a better visualization of what process automation looks like in practice? Here are a few real-life examples of smart ways to incorporate automation into a business.
Managing incoming mail
For Visiting Nurse Service of New York CHOICE Health Plans, a homecare agency and health plan administrator with over 40,000 members, managing incoming grievances and appeals was a challenge. Members completed paper grievances and appeals forms and mailed them in, meaning each one had to be opened, unfolded, sorted and distributed by hand for processing upon receipt by VNSNY CHOICE. The paper documents were difficult to track as they moved from employee to employee and could be misplaced, making processing times longer.
VNSNY CHOICE chose to address these pain points by outsourcing their grievance and appeals mailroom to Digiscribe. Now, all grievance and appeals forms are received at a dedicated P.O. box monitored by Digiscribe. The forms are prepped, scanned, indexed, and electronically timestamped, and the digitized documents are securely sent to VNSNY CHOICE via FTP – all within 24 hours of receipt. The company now resolves cases much more quickly, maintains compliance standards more easily, and is saving money on storage by managing documents digitally.
CLEAResult, a Massachusetts-based home energy assessment company, wanted to shorten the time it took to deliver service proposals to customers after assessing their homes. Each home assessment generates up to 30 documents, adding up to over 35,000 documents per week that had to be mailed or dropped off to headquarters for processing.
Now, CLEAResult Energy Specialists send post-assessment paperwork to Digiscribe for scanning daily. Digiscribe preps, scans, and digitizes all the documents and provides them to CLEAResult as searchable PDFs, kicking off an automated review workflow. Now CLEAResult is able to deliver proposals to clients in just 3-5 days.
Take the first step toward process automation bliss
Are you ready to give automation a go? Don’t do it alone – the next step is finding a workflow automation company you can trust to help you get things done efficiently without costly interruptions to business. Download our free guide: 8 Must-Have Qualities of a Great Business Processing Automation Partner.