Businesses need to think about automation more holistcally. Source: Shutterstock

Businesses need to think about automation more holistcally. Source: Shutterstock

Why isolating workflow automation projects isn’t a good idea

WORKFLOW automation is easy in this day and age, especially with technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) and simple artificial intelligence (AI) solutions making waves in the market.

Vendors of all sizes are creating products that support all kinds of industries and use cases, irrespective of size or stage of the business entity itself.

In fact, RPA solutions sometimes serve as the first step to digital transformation for some of the smaller organizations looking to explore the power of technology and adopting a technology-driven mindset.

For better or for worse, workflow automation has become a big industry by itself.

According to Gartner, worldwide spending on RPA solutions alone is expected to reach US$2.4 billion in 2022 — and AI solutions, simple and advanced, are growing rapidly.

To be fair, workflow automation has found so much success because it is not only easy to deploy right out of the box but also makes it easy for organizations to capture gains in terms of time and resources that can directly be converted into financial returns.

Despite its success, experts are beginning to worry about workflow automation projects being deployed by small businesses today because it seems as though projects are being developed in isolation — with neither a plan to scale them or a structure to govern and improve them.

Getting automation right: The short answer

Automation isn’t complicated, but the simplicity with which it can be implemented often causes business executives to be myopic about the objectives of their investment in the technology.

Companies that really want to win at workflow automation projects need to do two simple things:

# 1 | Create a plan

Automation must start with mapping out all of the organization’s workflows, identifying the ones that are both simple to automate as well as deliver significant returns as a result of the automation.

Once this is done, organizations can prioritize the workflows that must be automated.

Following an approach like this not only helps ensure that resources are used efficiently but also helps the organization see a holistic picture of all the possibilities, creating new opportunities for automation projects that wouldn’t have emerged if teams worked in isolation.

# 2 | Build a governance unit

Automation doesn’t work without governance, at least not in the long-term.

As technology disrupts workflows, it is bound to impact tasks, processes, and systems that have been automated.

Hence, organizations need a strong governance unit in place to monitor whether or not all automations are working as planned and re-visit automation projects that become obsolete as a result of new-age solutions such as advanced AI.