What is process automation and how to implement it step by step?


process automation


Can you imagine what your day-to-day work would be like without a computer or email? These are two examples of technologies that have transformed business routine. The same can be said about process automation.

Since the emergence of e-mail and computers, digital transformation has continued to introduce new resources to make organizations more agile and efficient.

In this scenario, the automation of processes presented itself as an opportunity to increase team productivity and generate more business with fewer resources.

If you want to better understand this subject and find out what drives a company to automate its processes, keep reading this post until the end!

What is process automation?

Process automation is a business practice that uses technology to automatically perform activities that were previously done manually. Through it, it is possible to optimize the work carried out in different areas of the organization, increasing its productivity, quality and efficiency.

In e-commerce, for example, it is feasible to automate the issuance of invoices as soon as a payment is confirmed.

In marketing, email automation is an indispensable practice for managing and growing leads in order to guide them through the stages of the sales funnel.

In addition, in the sales department, it is possible to automate some follow-up steps, ensuring personalized and segmented contact with prospects, while giving the team more time to prioritize the best opportunities.

In HR, automation can help to create collective and individual performance evaluation cycles, and also can be applied in the calculation of variable compensation.

In short, process automation can be used in different areas of the company, ensuring access to multiple benefits, which we will discuss below.

Process control is key for effective automation. Thus, employees are able to know which processes to automate.

Learn more about project and process management in this post:

What is a project management process and how do you implement it in your company?

What are the advantages of process automation?

To explain the importance of process automation, let’s go back to the technology examples that opened this article: computers and e-mail.

These two technological resources have boosted the productivity of companies, allowing more activities to be carried out during the same workday.

Distances have been shortened, software and tools have been created to make the execution of tasks more agile and communication with customers has become more efficient and faster. These are just a few advantages.

However, to access these benefits, it’s necessary to invest in buying computers and hiring internet packages, right?

Despite this need, is there any doubt about the financial return that these devices offer to companies? Is it possible to consider managing large, medium, small or micro companies without these resources?

The answer to these questions is no.

A similar phenomenon has been happening with processes automation, which also predicts an increase in company productivity.

Therefore, the return on investment in hiring this kind of resource should be also considered, both for small and large organizations.

A research made by IDC indicated that sales automation can lead to a 30% increase in closing deals. Not to mention other results, such as cost reduction and improvement of the sales cycle.

And, as we mentioned above, sales automation is an example of business process automation.

Therefore, it is possible to automate financial processes, HR, project management, marketing, customer service and much more.

Check out the difference between processes and projects in this infographic:

What drives a company to automate a process?

The main reason why a company would choose to automate its processes is the vast array of advantages it can gain by investing in this practice, such as:

  • increased productivity;
  • reduced of delivery times;
  • quality optimization of products/services;
  • improvement in customer experience;
  • reduced operational costs;
  • increased customer satisfaction;
  • competitive advantage;
  • ease of collection and monitoring performance indicators.

Having identified the main benefits and other advantages of automating processes, we are ready to show you how to put all of this into practice.

Read also: 8 business improvement ideas

How to automate a process?

The implementation steps for effective process automation depend on the company’s sector. However, some phases are common to all of them. Check them out below.  

1. Know the current processes

As we have seen throughout this article, one of the main objectives of process automation is to optimize the company’s work, for which it is fundamental to understand what is currently being done.

For this first step, we recommend that you:

  • observe how the current processes of the company are carried out,
  • talk to the professionals involved,
  • check strategic indicators that are already controlled by the company,
  • draw the current process.

This will be your starting point for implementing automation.

To help you in this phase, we recommend that you read the article, “How to create a process map? Learn now in 4 steps”. This is a practical guide that will help you identify opportunities for improvement to promote more efficient management.

2. Identify flawed practices

Knowing the indicators and the scope of what is currently being done, it is time to identify the processes that have the most flaws.What is not working? What is hindering the team from achieving its objectives?

This will help in identifying priorities for your company’s process automation project. After all, it is unlikely that you will be able to optimize everything at the same time.

Processes that are slower or that are hindering more strategic areas of the company, such as sales and customer service, should be prioritized.

To help identify priorities, you can use this tool:

The Eisenhower Matrix: what it is, what’s it for, and how to build one

3. Create a flowchart of the process to be automated

Once the process to be automated has been defined, the next step is to create a new flowchart considering the automation that will be implemented.

Create a clear, step-by-step workflow that establishes:

  • the order of activities;
  • what must be done;
  • who is responsible;
  • when it should be done.

Be as specific as possible, as all of this is a set of important information for your team and for the process automation software that will be adopted.

The RACI Matrix is ​​a methodology that can help in this stage of identifying what should be done and who is responsible. 

4. Choose an automation system aligned with your needs

At this point, it’s time to choose the tool that will perform your processes in an automated way.

There are specific solutions for each sector and set of needs. For example, Siteware offers solutions for automating results management processes, data collection and internal communication, as well as optimizing talent management and HR processes.

Other well-known features are: sales CRM for the commercial sector and the marketing automation software.

Based on your current needs, make a selection of options and choose a tool that allows, for example, integration with other systems used by your company. This increases business intelligence and contributes to reducing rework.

Also note how easy it is to implement the solution and the support offered by the tool after hiring.

Remember that the software that will allow the automation of processes is essential for the success of your business and for the future results that will be collected.

5. Create an implementation schedule 

Implementing improvements in a company requires effort. If you have ever needed to do this within the business, you know what we are talking about.

It seems very simple, but among the day-to-day activities, there is little time left to change what has been done for years.

Even if a process is not working, is more laborious and requires more time from the team; the fact is that what is already done tends to continue to be done the same way. It is the famous comfort zone -which is not really comfortable at all.

Especially within companies, where different professionals are involved in the adoption of technology, the implementation schedule proves to be indispensable.

In addition to ensuring that an optimization project will actually be executed, it guarantees the fulfillment of important phases such as presentation, training and testing.

6. Train the team

Since we mentioned training, let’s keep talking about it. After all, it is essential for the success of this endeavor.

The team that will deal with a new process and a new tool needs to know how to do it. And it’s through training that this knowledge will be shared and absorbed.

Along with technical training, which will teach how to use the hired system, it is necessary to share the objectives of the changes with the team, encouraging their participation and engagement.

Have a motivated team by your side. Show them how the new solution will contribute to their daily routine. Thus, more and more employees will be engaged in activities.

Otherwise, there is a great chance that the project will just remain in the drawer, without the support of those who will actually deal with it in the work routine.

Here are some tips from Google to have a successful team:

process automation What is process automation and how to implement it step by step?
Source: rework.withgoogle.com

7. Track the results

New processes in place and running do not mean the end of your work. Have you heard about the concept of “continuous process improvement”? This means that everything that is done today in the company must be improved at some point.

In particular, newly implemented processes and tools need to be monitored to verify results and any need for adaptation.

The use of KPIs is essential for intelligent business management, which offers more than a vision of what has already happened, but especially a direction on what must be done.

Read also: What is Business Intelligence (BI): 10 benefits

8. Make adjustments

It is very common for your initial plan to require adjustments. The monitoring mentioned above will be indispensable for assertiveness in identifying and executing these corrections.

However, it is also important that you, together with the other involved parties, put these improvements into practice, focusing on agility.

The longer you take to solve a failure, the longer it takes to have the positive results you could achieve.

Therefore, if you follow these steps, you will have a well-built process optimization project.

So, just to make sure you understand what needs to be done, how about a summary? Your checklist for automating a process includes the following steps:

  1. Know the current processes;
  2. Identify flawed practices;
  3. Create a flowchart of the process that will be automated;
  4. Choose an automation system aligned with your needs;
  5. Build an implementation schedule;
  6. Train your team;
  7. Track the results;
  8. Monitor and make adjustments.

How to measure company performance?

Process automation is fully linked to performance management in companies. After all, to achieve high performance, the use of technology is indispensable in the corporate scenario.

At the same time, indicators management is vital to analyze and identify flaws and opportunities.

That is why we could not end this article on process automation without talking about the importance of monitoring the company’s strategic indicators.

And since the subject is automation, nothing could be more appropriate than recommending a system that automates the collection, storage and organization of business KPIs.

STRATWS One is Siteware’s solution for monitoring collective and individual performance and talent management.

Among its numerous functions and benefits, the management indicators software brings together all the company’s KPIs in a single place, generating consolidated performance information for more assertive decision making.

The system allows connecting projects from different areas and executing multiple action plans, as well as delegating tasks using indicator software.

In practice, the tool is an example of a platform that allows for the automation of  processes that are fundamental for high business performance.

Schedule a free demo and see how this solution can revolutionize your relationship with the company’s strategic indicators:

demon What is process automation and how to implement it step by step?