Automate the Big Picture
One of the most common misconceptions about office automation is that it will solve all your problems. However, when things are done in isolation, without considering the big picture, it can create additional work. For example, if you automate a process without understanding how it fits into the overall workflow or organization, you might end up with a system that is inefficient and ends up causing bottlenecks down the line. It is important to consider how a change will impact the whole, not just one department or team – this is where Process Mapping comes in. Only then can you make an informed decision about whether automation is the best solution.
The 'COVID' effect
The COVID pandemic has forced companies to adapt in a variety of ways and perhaps the most significant adjustment has been the switch to working from home. Globally, for many companies, this has meant implementing new technology and systems to allow employees to communicate and collaborate in a highly effective way, remotely. While this transition may have presented a challenge, overall, it was successful in keeping a lot of businesses afloat during these changes.
There are, of course, obstacles that you must endure that come with working from home. One of the biggest is the increased reliance on co-workers for information. Employees no longer had access to ‘water-cooler chats’ or ‘passing in the hallway updates’ – this made it difficult to stay on top of what is going on in other parts of the company. This had the potential to lead to frustration, and even conflict, as employees tried to piece together information from disparate sources.
Nevertheless, most companies have found ways to overcome these challenges and continue to operate effectively during the pandemic and this was often through the mapping of their processes so that onboarding was more efficient, knowledge share was readily available, and responsibilities were clearly defined – companies that invested in mapping processes for each role, as well as the organisation as a whole, generally performed better throughout COVID.
Singing from the same hymn sheet
Getting everyone on the same page is critical for any business, whether there is a pandemic going on or not. You need everyone to be pulling in the same direction, otherwise, how do you progress forward? Process mapping is an essential tool for getting everyone aligned. It’s a way of creating a shared visual representation of a process or workflow which forces people to come together and agree on how things should be done, rather than going along with the inherited process.
Once you have a process map, it’s much easier to get everyone working together effectively. If your team know what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, they can focus their efforts on making sure that everyone is working, together, toward a common goal. Process mapping is an essential tool for any company that wants to get on the right track.
Who doesn’t want to save time and money – if you do, read on
We have experienced countless times where process maps tied to a “role” rather than an individual has saved tens of thousands of dollars and, as a result, the competency was improved to the highest possible standard. In many cases, it is simply easier and more efficient to train an employee on a specific process when that process is mapped out and unconnected to any one individual. By doing so, the chance for human error is decreased and the overall quality of the company’s product or service increases. In addition, if an employee leaves the company or is otherwise unable to perform their role, someone can step in and be quickly trained to fill in without having to start from scratch.
The benefits of this approach are clear, and we have a proven track record of saving an organization time and money, whilst improving the output quality.
Establish and build rapport…THEN you will see improvements
Building process maps is a practice that can have many benefits for a company; perhaps most importantly, improving rapport between departments. When departments have a clear understanding of each other’s processes and responsibilities, they can work together more effectively – this leads to improved communication and greater efficiency. Additionally, building process maps can help a company improve their audits by having a clear understanding of its own processes they are able to identify areas that may need improvement. Finally, by documenting process maps, a team can realize that office automation is not always the best answer for every operational need. In some cases, manual processes may be more efficient, effective, or thorough. The fact that cannot be ignored is that building process maps that can be embedded into the DNA of your organization, is a valuable tool for any company.
First – understand your processes, then the office automation can follow
Many companies believe that they need to automate their office to improve efficiency and reduce costs – however, this is not always the case. Office automation cannot happen until you understand your processes and the current state of your office. Only then can you make changes and improvements that will lead to a more efficient workplace. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that not all office processes can, or should, be automated. As a result, it is essential to carefully consider and weigh up the benefits of automation before embarking on an office automation project – again, this can be defined through process mapping.
While automation can be a highly valuable tool in the workplace, it is not always the only answer. If used without an understanding of the big picture, can do more harm than good. We hope this article has helped give you a better understanding of the role of automation in the modern workplace and shown you that it should be used thoughtfully and with caution, but most of all implemented in a considered manner – by taking the time to map your processes within your organisation you will not only future proof it, but you will also make it easier to automate, should you choose to.