Effective user adoption is critical for the successful implementation of workflow automation. One may purchase the best in class feature-rich workflow solution, hoping that the technology would transform manual processes, eliminate bottlenecks and enhance productivity. Unfortunately, identifying for problems and looking for a solution is important, however, it’s not enough to just purchase software, to fully realizing the benefits of the technology platform, it is critical to ensure that all stakeholders are on board and are ready to adopt. After all what value a Bugatti is if it is lying idle in a garage!
People by nature are averse to change and the problem gets exacerbated when they are stepping in the unknown. Would their jobs be safe? How much their roles change? How the implementation of a new system will impact them? What effect will it have on their targets and deliverables?
Communication is key, and the first and the most critical step if you hope to achieve the adoption of a new workflow solution. It is essential to effectively communicate with the employees, why the system is implemented and how it is going to benefit them and the organization. If they are aware of the developments and have been part of it, they’ll be more willing to adopt it. Issues and challenges will be present, but those can be addressed more easily if users don’t feel that a system was forced upon without considering their opinions.
It may look more effective and more time-efficient to roll out the new solution at once, but a phased rollout would make more business sense if the software is new and take time to handle. Automating workflow takes a lot of upfront time and resources and by trying to overhaul all existing business processes in one go can lead to confusion and disappointment.
There’s also a steep learning curve involved, hence rather than tackling the most difficult automation project first – it would be easier, to begin with one clearly definable workflow on simple, standalone processes, automate and test it. This will avoid wasted time and resources and provide key learnings about implementation challenges. By carrying those lessons forward, and taking an incremental approach, will help in maximizing productivity gains.
Workflow automation is most effective when it is driven by specific requirements of a business, such as increasing productivity and reducing data errors. It is easier to get distracted by the unlimited possibilities of the latest workflow automation – hence keeping business requirements in mind while considering the solution would go a long way in getting the desired adoption. Whether your goal is to reduce processing time, lower department costs or cut down on storage space—or all of the above! —clearly outline those goals and make periodic assessments to determine if the solution is working and whether you need to make any changes.
It is important to set a clear vision of what the end state of the automation will look and behave like and then work backward in defining the phases of delivery needed to address it.
Implementing a workflow solution, sometimes may lead to change the entire working culture of an organisation, hence it is essential to take the leadership team in confidence with the expected changes and also getting the endorsement from other strategic team members or “Champions” who are likely to spread positive feedback about the changes. The so-called influencers can be vital for the successful implementation if they are a part of the teams that will be impacted by the roll-out of the new workflow solution. The more the influencers share about their positive experiences with their co-workers, the more buy-in you are likely to have throughout the organization. They’ll be able to address any questions or concerns, provide reassurance and of course, provide insightful feedback to you and your project team.
By allowing employees ample avenues to familiarize themselves with the new tool and offering clear, comprehensive guidance on how to use the system, becomes an essential factor in dispelling uncertainty and removing fear of change. Employees in organisation have diverse learning curves. Those who are technically-inclined are quick to adapt to new technologies, while others may not be that inclined about learning the system. There is also the higher management which might not be interested in knowing the nitty gritty of the system, and want a broad overview of the outcomes of the solution. A comprehensive, multi-tier training program can be created which includes curriculum, materials and defined modules. Ensure that training is offered on a regular basis going forward, a refresher course for existing members of staff and of course full training for new recruits.
When implementing a workflow solution, it is important to consider what will make the most business in the long term. It is essential to check the solution being implemented is scalable and flexible to grow and adapt to future changes.
While automating process is a goal in itself, it is essential to have quantifiable measures to check whether they are performing as per expectations, such as “reducing the employee onboard process from five to two days. Once the workflow is designed it should be tested to ensure that progress is indeed being made toward that goal.
Launching the initial workflow automation is just the beginning, hence embracing the operational changes required to ensure the solution thrives. It is also essential to periodically re-evaluate the performance of a workflow automation solution to determine the ROI. How much faster is the new workflow solution as compared to the earlier process? Decline in error rates? Are employees experiencing any challenges with the new system, can it be addressed without unnecessary disruption?
While system functionality and setup are important success factors when rolling out a new workflow solution, they are meaningless if the intended users do not adopt the solution. Even with the best of intentions, employees are expected to change long-time working habits overnight, which might not be welcomed by all without taking efforts to help them see the rewards of such steps. Supporting them in this transition will have a positive impact on implementation.
Get in touch with IBISM to see how we can help you implement the best workflow automation solutions!