For Companies Struggling With Inefficiencies, Intelligent Automation May Be the Answer

It won’t surprise many leaders that process inefficiencies remain one of the biggest business challenges for enterprises. According to a recent survey, the most significant barriers to successfully implementing automation projects wasn’t the technology but rather the lack of internal resources, project governance, and clearly defined project scope. According to a survey of nearly 400 professionals, more than 80% of respondents recognize that intelligent automation can address many of the workflow challenges large and small companies face.

Defining the challenges

Conduent fielded the research to better understand barriers to implementation, their impacts, and why many organizations struggle to overcome them.

Nearly 50% of organizations reported being burdened by too many manual tasks, and 40% cited convoluted processes or workflows as key business challenges. Participants who successfully completed an automation implementation project saw powerful results — the vast majority reported improved service levels (85%), greater regulatory compliance, stronger data security (84%) and better data accuracy. Ultimately, more than 80% reported increased customer and client satisfaction following successful implementation.

The stakes are high, and the results are real. But the road to correcting and optimizing workflow inefficiencies can be daunting without proper preparation, planning, and partnerships.

Manual tasks: The crux of inefficiency

Some industries are impacted especially hard by manual tasks: healthcare and health plan administration, legal services, mortgage and consumer lending, and finance are particularly susceptible to processes that are heavily document driven, which generate high costs and customer servicing friction.

Organizations recognize the benefits of automating these manual processes, including the ability to reduce errors and overall risk, enhance regulatory compliance and elevate experiences for customers, clients, and constituents. Conduent’s research reveals three primary drivers that persistently block automation adoption:

  • Security concerns
  • Limited training resources
  • The complexity of unstructured, handwritten documents

Hope isn’t a plan; a plan is a plan

To successfully implement intelligent automation, teams must analyze existing business processes and associated workflows, articulate specific challenges and desired outcomes, vet an automation partner and train staff to new ways of doing business.

Successful automation projects are designed from the ground up and include thorough representation from all areas throughout the organization, including IT, budget, legal, and information security. Strong project sponsorship from the top down helps ensure that there are no gaps or deficiencies in the automation adoption process.

Early considerations and emphasis areas for stakeholders include:

  • Internal resource time requirements and limitations
  • Integration with current systems
  • Operational gaps
  • Information security concerns
  • Technology training and ongoing support

Communication is critical. A vice president of information technology for a financial services firm, who participated in the Conduent study, used a proactive approach to ensure proper involvement throughout his organization.

“One of the things I think we did a good job of is communicating through the organization even as we were approaching and executing the RFP process,” he said. “We went on a roadshow of communication and awareness, telling people what we were doing, trying to drive home the message of ‘why,’ trying to hit some of those important questions head-on to allay some of the concerns that might be out there.”

Gather input from many stakeholder groups both up and down the workflow and use that input in your business case. It is also likely that frontline teams would be open to automation tools because they know how they can help. 61% of survey participants say more or better tools/automation tools would make workflow more efficient.

The partner selection process

Organizations of all sizes struggle with finding the right partner to help plan, design, implement and train for new automation processes. Before organizations start the process to find the right partner, it’s critical to identify and document several considerations, including:

  • Defining the existing business processes, challenges, and desired outcomes
  • Budget and internal resource requirements
  • Regulatory and compliance impacts
  • Internal evaluation processes and requirements.

How organizations successfully adapt to new automation

Success in designing and delivering automation projects begins and ends with people. But far too often, people aren’t properly prepared and trained to work with new processes. Teams that have spent years or even decades immersed in legacy business processes need attention and involvement and should have representation at the earliest stages of automation planning.

Training, documentation, ongoing support, and effective project management help make certain that teams and individuals have the resources necessary to ensure a new automation project produces efficiencies, cost savings, and positive customer experiences.

There are seven steps to onboarding new automation processes that can set teams up for success:

  1. Communicate as widely and as early as practical to ensure that stakeholders are informed – in some instances as early as RFP planning begins.
  2. Host a series of “roadshow” meetings to communicate clearly, gather input, identify stakeholders, and align automation goals, concerns, challenges, and outcomes.
  3. Proactively identify and address concerns early on to ensure team and individual concerns are identified and addressed.
  4. Identify potential use cases to discover practical instances of how solutions can be applied.
  5. Train the trainer for large organizations to penetrate teams and groups deep within the organization.
  6. Provide managers with what they need to answer questions. Documentation, informational materials, and FAQs help frontline managers and staff communicate clearly and consistently and provide opportunities for feedback.
  7. Keep training practical. Focus on steps, procedures, and case uses to properly train and adapt users to the solution.

The common challenges of improving broken and costly business processes can be overcome by adhering to planning, process, inclusion and implementation of the right people and guidelines. More than ever, successful projects are centered around good partnerships, clearly defined project scope, cross-functional organization support and comprehensive training and support from your vendors. These elements, when combined, can help an organization of any size move its automation journey forward.

Anthony DiRado is a Senior Product Manager for Business Operations Solutions at Conduent, Inc.