#51 How to achieve Automation excellence with Low Code

Intelligent Automation

#51 How to achieve Automation excellence with Low Code

In this episode of The Process & Automation podcast, Arno and Sascha are having 10 short questions, helping the business owners to understand where they stand when it comes to automation success.

What is stopping you from achieving automation excellence? How to achieve automation excellence with low-code? We have the answer! Rating your business on a scale from 1 to 10 against these questions will help you to evaluate which areas have improved and what is stopping you from achieving automation excellence. Let’s start!

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Sascha: Hello everyone аnd welcome to another episode of The Process and Automation podcast with The Automation Guys. I think it’s fair to say automation is not really a new trend especially not in some industries. Arno and I are in the market for more than, how many years know? 15, 16 years. Yeah.

Arno: I think it’s pushing probably 17 years.

Sascha: 17 years. Yeah. At that time we both were helping companies, small, large enterprises, financial services, insurances, and other businesses to get more done with process and automation. Nowadays it’s all a bit different when it comes to automation.

Of course the goal is very similar to what companies wanted to achieve back then. Um, more efficiency, cost saving, et cetera. But most recently we have seen a big shift to working alongside bots and artificial intelligence as part of our sort of workflows. Um, and, um, yeah. So in this new world of automation, how would you know where you stand currently as a company and how would you know you’re reaching sort of the full potential with these new automation technologies like RPA and some others. So, um, from time to time, I think it makes really sense to do quick, a quick review sort of a check in all the different areas.

And for that, we have 10 nice questions prepared for you to see where, where you stand when it comes to automation success. And I think the big thing is automation excellence.

So I guess for all our listeners going through the podcast, if you are not driving, I guess, feel free to write down how would you rate your business on a, on a scale from one to 10 against these questions, I guess when you look back maybe half a year or in a year’s time, uh, on, on that kind of, um, review, you might have improved in some areas.

So Arno what do you think is the first one up on the list?

Arno: So the first one is enterprise level thinking. And what I mean by that? Does your automation span holistically across your enterprise or do they just exists inside of your departments or within teams. With automation, what we try to achieve is enterprise wide implementation.

It shouldn’t just be targeting, let’s say one department or one division with inside your business. So if you are out there and your automation program spans across your enterprise, you can give yourself a point if you’re still striving towards that, but you perhaps have automations within various departments, you haven’t really joined all the dots up, perhaps you earned yourself a half a point. Um, if you’re still in the zone where automation is just scattered throughout your business and there’s little pockets of automation initiatives, uh, that goes on. Perhaps you should change your thinking in scaling that out enterprise wide because that is when you realize your full potential.

So for me, Sascha enterprise thinking is the first one, what do you think the next one is?

Sascha: Yeah, I think the next one is a good one here. A platform power. And. We are talking about platforms low-code and no-code quite a lot here.

So important reflection will be, are you actually using a platform approach to automating processes end to end? Are you orchestrating processes through a platform? Are you sort of connecting all your systems and databases? Um, AI capabilities, APIs, the RPA integration spots, and the humans within that, that end to end process.

Are you, are you covering that on one specific platform or is it like scattered around in the, in the enterprise in different applications or is it just one end to end? Uh, it makes so much more sense to, to look at end to end, look at it sort of on a platform, instead of going into the HR system and then going into these other systems, so one platform, um, with all these capabilities low-code and no-code of course this is sort of the trend.

That will be the question you should ask yourself. Are you using a platform or not?

Arno: Yeah, sure. That’s very insightful. And, and I guess, um, if it is a platform approach where you leverage a platform and this is automation platform, like you said, that has got business process orchestration, AI robots, chatbots, APIs. So you, if you leverage all of that, I guess you are taking advantage of the power of a platform. So that in itself deserves another point in your maturity. The next one I wanted to talk about is democratization. And when I, what I mean by democratization, it is how business and IT work together, collectively and in collaboration with each other to create solutions. Traditionally it’s only the responsibility of IT. Requirements goes into IT. IT then push that through their development cycle. It gets thrown over to the fence, to the business. And that in itself creates very sort of long periods of time before value gets delivered. If we democratize the technology, especially automation technology with the use of a low-code platforms where you don’t have to write code in order to implement automations, what you’re doing is you’re opening up automation to the masses.

You’re opening up automation to business teams, citizen developers and IT alike. So what you’re doing is you’re taking advantage of more people and from the business sides, and also people from the IT side to very quickly roll out the automation solutions. A very important one.

Ask yourself the question. Is it only my IT department that’s involved in automation initiatives or is it both my IT and my business teams working together collaboratively.

And that’s where you want to be, to score a point for that one. Oh, that’s, that’s really cool.

Sascha: I think in many organizations we really still have that IT is making decisions on how our solutions are developed, but we know by now the people who are actually in the departments, they know what is best for them.

It’s fantastic to involve them like that. So of course, when we earlier talked about a platform, when we develop workflows and process solutions and we have one platform, or maybe even if we don’t have one platform in place, but it just makes sense that, that there is some governance and visibility in place.

So, so the question to ask here for yourself is do you sort of prioritize strong governance and visibility across all your workflows everywhere you have human workforce and of course you need to find out what the, you need to see what your bots and AI participants in the process are doing.

So are you using that governance already for risk management, to check in compliance and, and of course, finding out other operational excellence and measures.

Nowadays with all that data, which is flowing through systems and databases and all that stuff it just make sense to visualize that and to use that data to proactively measure measure that, that risk at any time in real time.

Arno: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that governance and visibility into your processes and audit is a byproduct of automation. Automation produces that almost for free. And when you’ve got a process that runs and you are collecting data, you’re leaving footprints. So if you do have audit, we get audited, it’s very easy to point the auditors at those particular records and that would save you a tremendous amount of time to, to actually get through the audit process also for compliancy, when you get, various compliances certificates like ISO 27001, and all of these types of compliancy certifications that’s out there, you are in a far better spot, if you have systems of automation in place, than if you have got manual processes, that’s well documented.

So all of these things, not just the fact that you’ve got each sort of, sort of better optimize processes and you, um, have people that’s more productive because they interact with digital processes.

It’s also all of these soft benefits that comes into play, which if you were to build a business case for automation, a lot of people look at the hard benefits, but regulatory compliance, risk management, operational excellence that falls out of these visibilities and these transparent processes are very, very important.

And it’s something that’s sometimes overlooked. So if you are using automation tools to its full potential and you do have a very good visibility and again, you can score yourself a point for that one.

The next one is really important to me. It’s about speed and agility. In the old days, when you have a new requirement come into your business to solve a problem, usually what would happen is business analyst would look at that and that would then be handed over to a traditional IT development.

And it takes a very long time to actually build a system to solve a problem. These days you need to rapidly adapt to business changes and to optimize processes and to also take advantage of new opportunities. So speed and agility is absolutely key, not just to save the business costs, but also to be able to lead with insight, your business domain. If you have a competitor and they deploy digital process automation that means that they can be more consistent.

They can have better customer services. The customer attention will be better. And all of these soft benefits that’s associated with process automation is going to really propel them forward, where you’ll be behind. Whereas with using the process automation and the tools that’s out there through robotic process automation for digital workforce workflow automation, for human to human automation, AI driven chatbots, AI for decision-making all of these things combined with the fact that it is all configurable using low code and IT departments and business users can work together collaboratively to quickly assemble. This gives you that speed and agility. If that’s you give yourself a point, if that’s not you, you should seriously look into process automation with these types of capabilities to get yourself to delivering stuff in days, maybe weeks, but not months or years.

Sascha: And that brings me, it brings me nicely to the next point, which is all about impact of the solutions develop maybe you’re developing or you have in your organization. So obviously when you have lots of these ideas and Arno as you mentioned, you can build them with lots of agility and speed nowadays, but if you have all these ideas, of course, you need to make sure whatever you’re building,will have a certain and significant business impact business benefit, really. Um, uh, and it will produce potential cost savings it will address that competitive action you mentioned Arno maybe results into that process efficiency you were looking for. So it’s really important to sort of set out what the goals are of a small project, even if it’s a really quick idea but still you need to measure that, that impact, and then maybe if that impact is not, it’s not right then of course you can go very easily because of the agility of low-code and no-code platforms, you can very easily go back and then adjust and then see, um, if this is the right solution or not, and, um, you can iterate again and again. Um, maybe you can very soon conclusion maybe that’s not the best process to do. But ideally not necessarily figuring it out that way, maybe you use other other tools as part of the platform, sort of maybe process mining tools as part of that platform to, to figure out what is the best process actually to start off with. But whatever approach you take here, it’s probably important that to add some sort of results into some proper business benefits. So if, if, if that’s not how you’re doing it at the moment, I guess yeah.

Arno: Yeah, I guess that’s where you want to be. High impact, low input. Um, and if you organize yourself in terms of technology platforms, you organize yourself in terms of collaboration, between teams, especially from IT, maybe IT partners and also your business, you will achieve high impact quickly. You know, you’ll get faster to market with your solutions that you create.

And of course that’s when you start to realize the cost savings. Um, another question we ask people is, did you focus on continuously improving your digital systems, data systems and governance, and expertise to scale your automation initiatives. if that’s you then well done, um, a lot of businesses are still emerging in, in that space where there’s areas of investment to continuously improve these elements that I’ve just mentioned, but not all of those are done collectively.

And you know, it can be sometimes a challenge, especially when you’ve got legacy systems, you’ve got some technical debt, but a lot of the automation platforms out there, especially something like robotic process automation, doesn’t really care about legacy systems. You can train a robot to actually work with your legacy systems and you can build really modern interfaces for your human workforce and broker data for a digital worker to go type that into your legacy system. So there are solutions to that. Um, we talked a bit about, um, data in itself, you know, data’s very precious. Um, if you look at the likes of Amazon, I think they record around 500 data points for a typical shopper, and they constantly enrich that data to understand the profile of the person that is their customer.

So. All of these systems, automation systems, uh, collect a lot of data. It collects a lot of data in terms of, uh, behaviors of, of, of, of processes, behaviors of people, how they, how they interact with your processes. And this gives you that ability to, to really fine tune your processes and continuously improve the digital sort of approach that you have for process automation.

And of course, Expertise. It’s really important. It’s really important to invest in automation expertise across your business. It’s very important to have a automation first thinking. So people are onboard. They are onboard with automated thinking they’re on board with the fact that if I look at a business problem, rather than picking up an Excel spreadsheet, that I start emailing around or save in a file share somewhere, I do have the tools at my disposal to create something, to make me productive without actually going to the extent of spinning up a full blown IT project. And that’s the power we need to, um, enable our sort of, um, not necessarily our technical teams with inside our business with these automation tools, but we also need to equip our business teams to understand what is possible using workflow automation, what is possible using chatbots? What is possible using artificial intelligence at all of this? Again, continuous investment in improving people’s expertise will help you to scale your automation and also will help you to change the culture with inside your business. To automation first culture.

Sascha: Very interesting Arno. And you mentioned digital and data there as, as a big topic. Um, yeah, it was historically in many companies still it is sort of a, a blocker for many initiatives, isn’t it? Um, because once only when you have really good data available, you can, you can achieve these results much better.

So, so, um, this is why it’s so important to get that, that level right. And you talked about, enriching data earlier and of course doing that manually is quite a task. So, so when we talk about, those kinds of points, um, there’s, there’s the AI artificial intelligence helping us here.

And, um, um, uh, when it comes to automation and process automation in general, so you should ask yourself, um, uh, are you using technologies like AI machine learning? Are you using intelligent OCR, um, to, to extract data from documents? Are you using those things to, to identify specific things in images?

Processing invoices sort of most, um, or nearly automatically really, and with the power of, of, of those, um, technologies, um, uh, And the more you use this, the more maybe you can improve your data and the more your data is accurate, you have more end to end processing, maybe a hundred percent automated processing.

And, um, uh, so which is, which is fantastic. So, um, yeah, using AI, absolutely one to go for these days. Um, and if you’re not doing this, um, have a look at this, um, because you will score 10 with those kinds of things further down the line.

Arno: That kind of leads us to the next one, which again, we seem to be a bit obsessed with us, but, um, it is probably something that’s worth being obsessed about.

And it’s about your customers. And do you provide industry leading customer experience? Using a multitude of channels, including online mobile. And is your products and services innovative? And for me, this is, this is kind of like the key to all of this. Um, we’ve got things happening in the background.

That needs to be as efficient and as smart as possible. We need to make our workforce as productive as possible. And we need to deploy a digital workforce that is very cost effective. That does low value work. Okay. All of that then provides a foundation for us then to use the experiences we’ve learned from automation experiences.

We’ve learned to optimize our own house and really build extremely industry leading customer experiences in the front. Um, that includes any time a customer engages with you. It needs to be absolutely seamless. It needs to be highly automated and it needs to. Give the customer a sense that you know who they are, what their needs are, and if there’s any problems that can be addressed very quickly and very efficiently, and that drives customer retention, all of this will also give you confidence that if you have a high degree of, um, or a high quality customer service, And the customer experience is really high.

Um, it will give it a confidence to actually create more innovative services because the customer would know that you are highly innovative anyway, because they are interacting with you. You always solve their problems very quickly. Um, you are always there to provide a solution to anything they ask. So for them.

If you bring out a new, innovative service, they will be highly sort of likely to adopt that. Um, and I think that’s key and I think this is where the companies like Amazon does this really good. They understand how digital can be used to actually create really, really good customer experiences on that.

Sascha: And that leads us really to the last point, the, the employees part of your organization. Of course employees are as important as your customers and with automation that can be, there can be lots of stuff done, to engage your employees, to motivate your employees and to just make them more productive and automation itself will, will make your employees more happy.

I think some people say, oh, well, how does that work? So are you automating work maybe away from, from employees, but, uh, actually automation is sort of like that is helping them to get their jobs done better.

And, um, uh, you talked about customers. I think employees can also serve customers better, with all the touch points and, the automation and what the employees need to do to, to run the operation. I think everything gets, gets a bit easier when, when you reach that full potential, um, uh, of automation within the organization.

Yeah, I think that is a very important point to look at. And, uh, if, if you, if you’re still doing lots of things manually when it comes to HR and employee satisfaction, it’s probably about time to, to look at those areas as well. And there are many, many use cases out there to, to address that specific area in your business.

Arno: Yeah. I mean, we talk a lot about one of the classic use cases for automation and that’s onboarding and the whole journey from the initial publishing of a new job advert to actually onboarding employee, to ensuring they they’ve got a very good transition into the business and that whole experience is very similar to the type of experience that you want to build for your customers. But also you want to replicate that internally so that the culture of automation from day one actually gets embedded in your new staff. They know that the business that they are working for embraces automation and is progressive.

And I guess that keeps people highly engaged, motivated, and very productive because when you bring automation into their world and experience it the first time on day one, as part of their onboarding, they know that this is a business that’s very, very serious about streamlining and optimizing experiences for people to make sure that they can do their job and they don’t get bored of re-keying information or working with a lot of spreadsheets. And I think it’s sort of that grassroot level where it really starts. So, so I guess that’s

Sascha: nearly a differentiator, isn’t it? These days, if, if someone, someone could publicly, identify if a company is doing that or not, I guess lots of people would, uh, they would decide I’m not working for this company.

I’m working for the other, because as you said, they are really serious about, um, those things.

Arno: Exactly. And I think it also opens up possibilities for hybrid working. Um, I think we talked to in our last podcast or previous podcasts about creating hybrid working models, um, the job place has changed as we know it, uh, from pre pandemic and, uh, people are again, starting to get back to the office.

Um, but that model is looking different. So we want to ensure that people work very efficiently, wherever they are. And I think that a hybrid working model is best supported by automation and technology, the right types of automation and technology to ensure that if people are working off site, they have got all the tools to their disposal. They are connected to their processes. They are connected to other people. And all of, all of this connectivity really drives productivity and drive satisfaction of employees because they know I’m going to have a day where I’m not going to be in the office, but I’ve got all of my tools, all of my data, all of my process, um, interaction at my fingertips using my mobile phone, my desktop and all of my you know, automation interfaces via your case management system or a dashboard where you can see all of your, uh, telemetry around your processes. So, so collectively, this also creates a sense of achievement a sense of productivity, motivation.

So all of that is positive. So again, if that’s you. You can support score yourself a point, um, if that’s not you, it is time really to start looking at automation specifically in that area to drive employee satisfaction.

Sascha: Yeah. I hope, I hope you have support from plenty of points after, after going through these questions with you. And if not of course there’s room for improvement and it’s, it’s very, very good, I guess, to repeat that reflection every now and then. Um, so, you know if you have improved overall, and of course you will probably, see, feel the results as well as part of different departments.

You see some HR processes are running smoother. Customer processes are running smoother. The business is doing better. So probably you will know without going through that. But, um, I think it just, it’s nice to just take a snapshot every now and then, and just compare, from where you have improved, to today.

And, yeah, so that was a 10 questions for you to achieve automation excellence. Um, and yeah, thank you very much for, for listening and reach out to us and myself and Arno. If you have any questions about automation and, uh, you know, so we will be back very soon and until then let’s automate it.

That’s it again with this episode of The Process and Automation podcast. If you liked this episode, please give us a five-star rating and don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast, so you don’t miss any upcoming episode. We hope you will tune in next time. And until then let’s automate.

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