How to reduce 'process debt' with automation as a change agent

Automation is a catalyst that can improve your employee productivity, job satisfaction, and eventually, shift the entire organization's mindset around positive innovation.

It’s time to change the way you think about your business processes.

You may be in the midst of a corporate initiative to adopt automation. You’ve had some success with RPA or BPM software, and want to see what else is possible. Or, perhaps you’re brand new to automation technology. You have a specific problem within one of your business-critical processes that is starting to negatively impact your team or customers, and you need to solve it.

Either way, automation can be a catalyst for the change you need – a marker in the ground to signify a corporate-wide shift in thinking.

Understand your process debt

You may be familiar with the concept of technical debt, a term commonly used in the software industry. In its simplest form, technical debt is defined as the implied cost of additional development rework, caused by choosing an easy solution.

What does a software term have to do with your business processes? A lot, actually. In the absence of process innovation… you have process debt. That debt comes as a result of using manual, inefficient ways to get work done, and the cost of doing so comes in many different forms, such as:

Time. It matters how quickly you’re able to invoice your customers, onboard a new hire, or respond to helpdesk requests, but these things are hardly thought of as strategic areas of your business. You’ve likely built manual processes to handle these types of tasks and have accepted such as the status quo rather than identifying them as processes that are holding you back.

Employee Experience. You’re likely paying a premium for employees without taking advantage of the skills that make them valuable. By not providing an environment that leverages the high-value competencies of your experienced staff, both the business and employee lose out. When smart people are tasked with mundane work day after day, their experience suffers and engagement levels fall, along with retention rates.

Innovation. Just like with money, process debt accrues interest, making it harder to implement changes later on because of the rate of outside innovation. While you’re spending time and money on manual processes and experiencing employee turnover as a result, there’s a whole new group of businesses operating in a completely different, and better, way. Built to be operationally efficient from the ground up, new market entrants are investing in research and development instead, allowing them to out-innovate you and gain market share at a faster pace.

Automation is your change agent

With a clear understanding of your process debt, you’re in a better position to identify where and why automation is necessary. Implementing a tool like Catalytic that enables automation will first drive a new way of working for employees, and then a new way of thinking across the organization because it will:

Standardize processes. While we know that manual processes are ineffective, what’s causing even more harm is that employees use their own personal systems to get work done. This could be working off of separate spreadsheets or leaving documents off the shared drive. Why? Because you haven’t given them an efficient way to do their work, and they’ve resorted to trying to find a better way on their own.

All of that process variability leaves too much of your operational performance to chance. Using an automation tool like Catalytic takes the guesswork out of what happens next. Instead of relying on people to act as the grandmaster of your processes, they are empowered to add value in ways only they can, and signaling to them that their time and expertise are important.

Make a generational leap. Incremental change is often difficult to implement, and can actually be harder on employees than one widespread change. Only adopting technologies here and there keeps the door open to the old, manual way of doing things. This makes it easier for employees to naturally default back to the way they are used to doing things, which is inherently disruptive, takes longer, and fails frequently.

Another reason incremental change fails? Your manual, cumbersome workarounds only get worse over time. Temporary fixes usually lead to more temporary fixes, causing a snowball effect of damage to both your operational efficiency and employee experience.

Automation provides a fundamentally simpler experience, which minimizes the burden of the change for your employees. Mandating a new digital transformation process with automation to connect it all allows you to speed the rate of change and realize the benefits of it much more quickly.

When automation is used as a catalyst for change, it signifies to your employees that their experience matters and allows the organization to better compete in today’s digital business world.

Discover how Catalytic can help you create and execute your process automation strategy.

Nicholas Decker

Nicholas Decker

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