Nine steps to achieve more digital and automated processes

07 October 2021 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read

The digitisation and automation of business processes has been gradually increasing for years, and the on and off pandemic lockdowns during 2021 have shifted progress into top gear. Ragavan Satkunam, a Senior Manager – Portfolio and Strategy at Ricoh, shares nine steps how companies can achieve more effective digital workflows.

Faced with remote workforces and changes to the way they interact with customers and suppliers, many organisations have rushed to replace manual and paper-based workflows with more efficient digital equivalents. In many instances, a shift to digital workflows and automation can seem quite daunting. Changing procedures that are likely to have been in place for years sounds like a recipe for disruption. 

Yet there are a series of steps that can be followed that can make migrating workflows into the digital realm a much more achievable task. With careful planning and a methodical approach, organisations can quickly be enjoying some significant operational benefits. 

Ragavan Satkunam, a Senior Manager – Portfolio and Strategy, Ricoh

The key steps to follow to achieve effective and efficient digital workflows include:

1. Conduct an audit
Before any changes are made or technologies deployed, take time to review all the workflows currently being used across your organisation. Determine which need to be amended to make them more efficient, and which can potentially be phased out altogether.

2. Consult with staff
There is no one better positioned to offer insights into the state of workflows than those who use them every day. Consult with staff regarding the efficiency of workflows and how they might be improved.

3. Prioritise works
Once all workflows have been identified, rank them in order of priority and importance to the organisation. There is little point in investing money to digitise a workflow that is rarely used while leaving critical ones waiting.

4. Select appropriate technology
There are an increasing number of digital workflow and automation tools on the market, so it is worth assessing a range of options to determine which will be the best fit. Work with a trusted technology partner to ensure assessments are rigorous. 

Further reading: Enhance business processes with a workflow automation platform.

5. Undertake deployment
Starting with the workflows deemed to be most important, deploy your chosen technologies. By beginning with a single workflow, the impact can be carefully measured before others are tackled. This ensures there are no widespread disruptions to day-to-day work.

6. Establish a portal
Once a number of workflows have ben digitised, establish an online portal through which staff can access them. Having a single interface will make adoption more straightforward and ensure everyone who needs it has access.

7. Conduct user training
To extract maximum benefits from workflow digitisation a process automation, it’s important that users are familiar and comfortable with their operation. Conduct regular training to ensure the required skills are in place.

8. Enable mobile access
Further efficiencies can be expected when users are able to access workflows from their mobile devices. This is particularly important during the lockdowns and well worth the effort to achieve.

9. Consider automation
Workflows and processes can be further enhanced with the addition of automation tools. These can relieve staff from having to undertake tedious, repetitive tasks and streamline operations. It’s important to examine existing processes to determine where automation could be applied. Remember, there is little point in investing to automate a process that is actually not required or has become very inefficient. 

By following these steps, an organisation can successfully digitise and automate workflows in a move that will deliver significant business benefits. Everything from financial workflows such as invoicing and payments to leave applications and overtime approvals can be made to operate much more efficiently, saving both time and money. 

The organisations that flourish in the future will be those that have taken the time and made the investments in workflow digitisation and automation. Consider how these techniques could be put to work within your company today.