How to bring business process automation to life: The 9-step approach

Business Process Automation Comes Alive

So, you’re ready to hit the gas on finding an effective business process automation software to drive results and positive impact in your organization? Congrats!

Following a trusted approach while reviewing your business process automation options means you can spend more time understanding your options versus organizing your options, and ultimately lead your organization into a decision with full confidence.

Experts who lead process improvement initiatives and software automation implementations shared their advice on the steps that will save you heartache and make you a hero.

Step 1: Short-hand a mission statement

Put on paper what you hope to accomplish with a new business process automation software purchase.

First identify your biggest pain points

Reporting Made Easy Onspring

Compliance and regulations are becoming too difficult to manage with spreadsheets alone.

Reporting-at-Onspring

Reporting requires days of time since data is manually pulled from numerous systems and spreadsheets.

Limited visibility into business vulnerability of information security risks and their likelihoods.

Then outline your opportunities

Save hours of time

Save hours of time to focus more on strategic initiatives.

Gain Visibility

Gain real-time visibility into business risks and operations.

Reduce Costs

Reduce costs by proactively mitigating potential risks.

Step 2: Spread the Word

Start communicating your business process automation needs to others in your organization.

Help everyone understand the current pains experienced and the criticality to finding a resolution. Make your situation and desired solution common knowledge. Avoid surprises by making everyone comfortable with your thoughts and suggestions during the research and shopping process.

A senior executive at Walmart’s corporate office was trying to roll out a new business process automation software that could save them hundreds of thousands of dollars annually just from streamlined improvements.

In efforts of communicating the need and selling his proposed solution, he wrote three talking points on an index card and carried the index card in his pocket every day. Friendly hallway conversations morphed into a daily recount of his three talking points.

It was a genius move.

Everyone recognized the opportunity after a hallway conversation with Sean. He built enough momentum to get the process started and successfully launched his desired business process automation software – and ended up saving millions for Walmart during his tenure.

Step 3: Establish Real Goals

Decision-making is based on data.

The more you quantify your desired results, the easier it is to compare business process automation software solutions and make decisions.

Base your goals on longevity, customization, speed, personalization and ROI.

Elements to think through:

  • Time & Value

    How much time do you want to save?

    How does time translate to cost savings?

  • Tools & Value

    Will you need integrations to other tools?

    How can data connect across your business?

  • Insights & Value

    How many reports do you need?

    How can real-time visibility help you?

  • Action & Value

    What triggered actions help compliance?

    How can a digital paper trail ease efforts?

  • Ease & Value

    Do you want update workflows on your own?

    How does this make your business flexible?

  • Patience & Value

    Can you allow downtime for updates?

    How would downtime impact operations?

Step 4: Identify Your Team

Pinpoint who should be a part of the process.

Include three types of team members who will be directly and indirectly impacted by a new business process automation software. Both future administrators and end-users should be excited about the solution and the opportunities that come along with it well before the software is implemented.

Champions
  • They feel the pain as much as you, which means they’re vested and have most to gain.
  • Because they are so passionate about finding a solution to their problems, presume they will have rose-colored glasses for every option reviewed.
  • Be critical of their “loves,” but realize they likely know what you need from a business process automation software more than anyone else.
Influencers
  • They indirectly benefit from any process improvement, operational risk mitigation, or compliance improvement initiative.
  • Show them the value, potential and ask for their advice.
Naysayers
  • Yep, that’s right, invite the haters. Bring them into the circle.
  • They will proactively bring up all the issues you must overcome to gain consensus.
  • It will be challenging to get them on your side, but knowing the root of their concerns will help you position counter arguments.
Who’s Missing?

The purse holder.

Why? It’s too early to involve them. Build your case with data points and communicate across all teams impacted to gain consensus. Once you have facts and data, you are ready to present a recommendation to those holding the money.

Step 5: Make a List

It’s due diligence time.

Document

Start reconnaissance to narrow the field of business process automation software options.

Craft a list of considerations important to you and the rest of your team. This generates not only the rubric you’ll use to compare vendors, but also provides a central resource library for your notes.

  • Technology features
  • Human element
  • Price
  • Service arrangements
  • Customer feedback

Research

Fill your documented list with facts and figures in each category of your rubric. Search for “business process automation software” in search engines. Ask friends, colleagues and experts for referrals.

Software options will be numerous, so plan to prioritize. No one has time to talk to 26 different vendors, so start with a handful.

Utilize Customer Review Sites

  • Capterra, owned and managed by Gartner.
  • InfoTech, dedicated to IT software purchases.
  • G2 Crowd, covers a wide array of business categories.
Analysts vs. Customer Reviews

Analysts provide input on how they believe the vendors should innovate in the future, while customers provide firsthand feedback on what it’s like to use the software on a daily basis.

Step 6: Start Talking to Humans

Schedule demos with your top contenders.

Pay attention not only to the product they offer, but how the sales teams present. This is the time when you ‘gut-check’ if you’re comfortable with them.

Would you want to be stuck with them in a broken elevator for hours?

The sales teams need to understand your specific needs during the demo process, as they are on the hook for helping you realize your vision.

During this process, plan to sit in multiple demos. Drinking from a firehouse does no one any favors, so take it slow and make sure you’re following it all.

Intro Demo
  • Purpose: Gain a visual overview and overall understanding of their software.
  • Goal: Get comfortable with the user interface, organization of information, functionality and features – all at a 10,000 ft. view.
  • Success: You understand how this solves your needs without considering nuances and unique use cases.
Use-Case Demo
  • Purpose: Find out how it works in specific use cases.
  • Prepare: Communicate in advance what you want to see so they don’t waste your time.
  • Consider: How do their features complement your processes?
Personalized Demo
  • Purpose: This demo incorporates your own data so you see what you would look like in the software.
  • Expect: Start becoming the internal expert on the software. Your team needs to feel comfortable with your approach and trust your recommendations and decisions every step of the way.

Step 7: Time to Talk Money

Meet with your short-listed software vendors to discuss pricing.

Understand their pricing structure and how flexible it is. Use estimates as a baseline to winnow down your business process automation software vendors to determine your preferred option.

Know what potential costs could arise in the future:

  • Implementation
  • Training
  • Maintenance
  • Upgrades
  • New features/functionality

Build Relationships for Better Pricing

Communicate with your preferred vendor where you see your organization in the future in regards to using their software.

Be honest and open.

If you aren’t comfortable being honest at this point, then you haven’t found a vendor you can trust. This is where many people fail in the purchasing process. If you want to succeed, you must build advocates for yourself and your ideas. Those advocates should fall both in and out of your organization. The more you build a relationship with your vendor, the more you’ll get from them.

What to share with your vendors when it comes to money:

  • Your comfort zone. What dollar amount falls within your emotional acceptance?
  • Expected ROI. Position the software cost next to your return. Your CFO will ask for it. Be proactive and ready.
  • Long-term plans. Vendors are willing to make concessions if they see how they can continue to support you in the future.

Step 8: Get Your Team Ready

Start planning an effective implementation.

Communicate expectations and considerations to everyone involved. Providing some level of information, even if it is not fully-baked, avoids surprises and brings people together in the process.

Document your launch plan to ensure a smooth transition and kick-off process.

The core elements of your plan should include:

Leadership

Designate who on your team will run point on the implementation.

  • Is it you or someone else?
  • If it is someone else, get them fully up to speed before contracts are signed.
Documentation

Review your current processes and determine if they need to change.

  • Start planning and documenting now if they need to change.
  • If processes remain the same, outline how the new business process automation software will pick right up.
Training

Identify who needs to be trained on the new software and how long it will take.

  • What type of training will end-users need?
  • How will administrators learn to make modifications?

Check out more practical tips and templates from those who launch software platforms for a living.

Step 9: enjoy a successful business process automation launch

Start driving improvements and showcasing results!