HOW TO IDENTIFY & PRIORITIZE PROCESSES TO AUTOMATE
As tempting as it may be to automate as much as possible in your organization, you should be strategic about what and when to automate. Consider this guide for identifying and prioritizing the processes you’d like to automate:
- Identify functional areas of your business that have opportunities for improvement in efficiency. Write them down.
- Task leaders in each of these functional areas to draw up SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for “how” the jobs are done. Writing SOPs isn’t fun and can often be something overlooked in small and growing organizations, but this step is essential.
- From these SOPs, hone in on tasks that have any combination of the following traits:
- highly repetitive
- high risk and/or business critical
- high ROI potential
- time sensitive
- impacts other systems and processes in the business
- could cause bottlenecks
- At this point you likely have a decently sized “wish list” of processes your team would like to automate, but you can’t do it all. Now it’s time to force rank, group where possible, and prioritize. It may be useful to use a scorecard framework for this. Consider the following when prioritizing:
- What is the impact on customers and employees if we do this? If we don’t?
- What could a manual error in the process cost the business in financial terms? How about the customer satisfaction cost?
- Factor in employee costs, such as burnout and retention rate, due to job satisfaction.
- Now that you have a Prioritized List of business processes you want to automate, it’s time to dig into finding SOLUTIONS.
COMMON PROCESSES TO AUTOMATE
- Employee Onboarding
- Order Entry & Fulfillment
- Billing & Invoicing (Case Study)
- Database entry and record-keeping
- Data analysis and reporting
- Appointment scheduling
- Task management
- Project Management
You have several directions you could head from here. Let’s discuss the Pros & Cons of each:
Outsource the Process Entirely
- Pros: Cost-savings, especially if you can use an offshore solution
- Cons: Variable quality control, often not suitable for business-critical processes
Off-the-shelf Software Solutions
- Pros: Reduced upfront costs vs custom solutions, already tested and refined
- Cons: Sacrifices in desired functionality are likely, locked-in contracts, can be difficult to scale and migrate, may not easily integrate into your existing systems
Custom Software Solutions
- Pros: You choose exactly what features you want and what you don’t, you own it and you aren’t beholden to another company for updates and feature migrations, built to integrate seamlessly with your existing systems, often lower long-term investment
- Cons: Larger upfront time and financial investment