Sandy Kemsley’s Vlog - Business automation best practices #1 - Introduction
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Business automation best practices

#2 – strategic vision

By Sandy Kemsley

Video Time: 5 Minutes

Hi, I’m Sandy Kemsley of I’m here for the Trisotech blog, with the second in a series on best practices in business automation application development.

In the first episode, I talked about the automation imperatives. All of our cool new technology lets us automate faster and better and automate things that were never possible before. However, everyone else has access to the same technology so they’re automating their businesses too. In other words, it’s essential that you leverage automation in your business, or you just won’t be able to survive. A lot of companies are failing at business Automation and in this series, I’m offering some best practices to make you more successful at this, and indicators for recognizing and avoiding failures.

Today, I’m going to start diving in by talking about two of the best practices in strategic vision for automation application development.

Two of the best practices in strategic vision

#1 – Strategic Direction

Now, the first best practice is to make business automation a strategic direction. It’s not enough to just have the business automation initiatives approved by executive management or to be some executive’s pet project. This needs to be stated from the top level as part of how the organization moves forward. I was recently at a conference presentation where the CIO of a U.S state government showed their current strategic initiatives and process automation was listed right there.

Now, they stated the reason for this is that process automation creates capacity and reduces workloads by having automation do those standard and repetitive tasks and allow people to focus on the higher value work that really requires that human touch. Business automation is a recognized enabler of strategic direction: it supports and promotes Innovation efficiency and globalization among other initiatives. And if your organization isn’t recognizing this in its stated strategic corporate goals, then your automation projects are at risk.

Sometimes automation projects are hard, and they can take a long time and they can cause a lot of disruption. Without some sort of air cover from the executive level, it’s pretty easy to find these projects off in a ditch somewhere lying on their backs and kicking their poor little legs in the air well the Executive Suite chases the next shiny Bobble that they see down the road.

#2 – The Right Process

Now, the second best practice that I want to talk about, in terms of strategic vision, is to pick the right process particularly for your early projects. Nobody really cares if you have the best expense report process in the world. They do care if your core processes are efficient, innovative and a competitive differentiator.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be automating the expense reports, it means that you should first focus on core processes, since that’s where you get the most bang for your buck.

Now, over my many years of actually implementing business automation, I’ve heard a lot of people — sometimes vendors, sometimes consultants, sometimes internal project people — express the desire to try a pilot project on a less risky process. But you’re not going to understand how business automation can be transformational for your organization until you implement it on your core processes.

You’re not testing out the technology because that’s already proven as solid, these are not brand-new technologies. What you’re doing is trying out that new to you technologies with your own business operations. That’s where you need to demonstrate success.

Pick a core operational process, something that’s critical to your business. You don’t need to do a Big-Bang-Everything-at-Once implementation but do enough automation on that process to show measurable value, as well as the potential improvements to come as the automation expands beyond that initial project rollout.

And this leads me to one of the Prime indicators that your automation initiative is in trouble: Nobody cares about the process that you’re automating. If that’s the case, then you need to check and see where you might be going off the rails. That process needs to have some strategic importance. You need to be able to show the broader reaching impacts than just some departmental efficiency Improvement. Now, even if you’re automating a process that seems pretty much departmental, such as I don’t know accounts payable, you can still show how improving this operation has the ability to integrate with other parts of the company operations. So, the results could be the streamlined corporate cash flow, decreased late payment costs, improve vendor relationships, for a start.

So, those are the kinds of things that you want to look at in terms of how to choose that initial project, how to choose that initial process that you might be automating, and make sure that it’s something that people really care about. Now, coming in the next videos I’ll be covering best practices in design — this will probably be a couple of videos, since there’s a lot to cover here — and some best practices in methodology.

That’s it for today. You can find more of my writing and videos on the Trisotech blog or on my own blog at See you next time.

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