Before You Automate, Simplify Your Processes

First, determine if the process you’re considering for a technological makeover is worth simplifying. Is the process essential or superfluous? Investing valuable resources into technology that automates a superfluous process compromises the health of your business. To identify the value of a process or system, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the basic deliverable our customers want?
  • What does our customer do with our deliverable?
  • How can we give our customers what they want in the fewest steps possible?

The answers will remind you of the essence of your business and what you need to satisfy your customers.

Before investing a penny, require your team to execute the process steps manually, without any technological assistance. This brings clarity and agreement on outcomes and standards, and highlights any existing dysfunction. Analyze where the process is working well and where it’s not. Typically, the result of this manual assessment is that you can reduce the amount of automation required.

Encourage your team to identify extra, unnecessary steps and edit the process down. The ultimate goal of automation is to improve reliability and reduce the time to complete a transaction. Applying technology to a simplified process will achieve greater improvements in both those areas than applying it to a complicated process.

Ray Attiyah is the founder of Definity Partners, a hands-on, business-training firm that integrates process redesign and leadership-behavior modeling. He developed the Run-Improve-Grow system to inspire the best leaders to reach for higher-hanging fruit. His newest book is Run Improve Grow: Your Roadmap from Firefighting to Bold Business Growth.