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How to Find Opportunities for Business Process Automation [with Survey Questions You Can Use]

You only have to do one automation project with Microsoft Power Apps to realize how taking the complexity out of your operational processes can improve your business. When you go into a project, you know you’re going to meet specific objectives, like reducing errors and speeding things up. An outcome that may surprise you, however, is how happy your employees and customers will be when you’ve made their lives easier. Then everyone will be asking – what else can we automate?

Good question! But before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re talking about the same thing when we refer to business process automation. According to the Gartner Glossary:

Business Process Automation is the automation of complex business processes and functions beyond conventional data manipulation and record-keeping activities, usually through utilization of technology. Gartner

As we have discussed on our blog previously, the creation of automations with Microsoft Power Apps allows you to transform manual, time consuming and complex tasks and turn them into efficient processes.

Related: Still Using Paper, Spreadsheets and Manual Processes? Time for a Power Apps Intervention

Ask – Why Are We Doing It This Way?

So how do you find opportunities for business process automation? It’s a matter of asking the right questions. Take a tour of the departments in your company and spend some time with people to observe how their workflows. Then the first question to ask is –

Why are we doing it this way?

The employee may not know why. It could just be the way that they were trained.

Have you heard the story about the tradition one family had for cooking their Christmas roast? The practice of cutting off the ends of the roast before cooking was being passed down from generation to generation. One day, someone asked the elderly grandmother why it was done this way. The grandmother answered that it was because her pan was too small and that’s what she did to make it fit.

The point of sharing this story is to consider that your employees may be following a practice that no longer serves them because the situation has changed.

Signs of Potential Applications for Automation

In addition to looking for situations where the process needs to be realigned with the needs of the business, you should also be aware that signs of potential automation projects may be uncovered where processes:

  • Have bottlenecks where they get stuck
  • Are time consuming or often fail to meet deadlines
  • Are for repetitive tasks
  • Are complicated or have lots of steps
  • Have manual steps or steps get forgotten
  • Use paper and pencil
  • Utilize a checklist
  • Require duplicate data entry
  • Often have errors
  • Lack visibility
  • Include multiple people

Automation Use Case: Onsite Inspection Process Streamlined

Use a Survey to Start Automation Conversations

You certainly can sit with different people and look over their shoulder as you go department to department in search of ways to improve your business processes with automation, but everyone might be served better if you get the thought processes rolling with some questions that will spark ideas.

Send out a survey with these questions –

  1. What is your most time-consuming task?
  2. What processes frequently get stuck?
  3. What processes require you to email people multiple times?
  4. What processes require that you enter data more than once?
  5. What processes have frequent mistakes?

Tweak this list with questions that pertain specifically to your business and see what you get. It’s the conversations that are triggered from the survey questions that will reveal the improvements that can have a big impact on your automation success.

Automation Use Case: PTO Request Process Streamlines and Improved

More Ideas to Improve Operations and Enable Business Success

Here at XPERTECHS, clients have access to a vCIO with whom they meet on a regular basis to discuss how to leverage technology for business success. If you’re not getting that from your managed IT service provider, then it’s time to weigh your options.

Contact us for an IT consultation.

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