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2 min read

Adapting to disruption: defining processes before automation

2 min read

Adapting to disruption: defining processes before automation

"The only constant is change" - Heraclitus.

He said the phrase more than 2500 years ago, yet it remains a valid thought for today's fast-paced, ever-changing market. If you wonder how to survive such a changing market, the answer lies in adapting to change.

"Change" can represent many things, but an important part, and the focus of this blog, is automation.

Index

  • What is automation?

  • What is process mapping?

  • Why is it important to map before automating?

Automation

What is automation?

In short, automation uses technology to replace manual activities; this is done to decrease execution times and eliminate human error. More importantly, automation helps organizations achieve their digital transformation.

Digital transformation merges digital technologies and solutions, making a complete change in how companies operate and deliver customer experiences, leading to the transformation of processes and business models.

According to SAP, the "right technologies - along with people, processes and operations - give organizations the ability to adapt quickly to disruption and opportunities..." i.e., meet changing customer needs.

So, it's not just about technology, buy a system, and that's it. It's about transforming all the vertices holistically. Sometimes we think so fast and want to "adapt to change" immediately that we forget about the steps before automation. It is not just about implementing a technological tool; it is about doing it correctly. It is necessary to define and map the processes that automation will transform.

What is process mapping?

First, a process is defined as a sequence of activities. It has inputs, such as raw materials, data, or documents, transformed by a series of actions to obtain value-added outputs, i.e., a product or service. Some suppliers provide the inputs in a process, and customers receive the results. In both cases, they can be internal or external to the company.

process


So, to map, it is necessary to analyze the influential variables in a process, where the inputs come from, where the outputs go, and the relationship between them: this is done to obtain detailed documentation and a diagram that graphically represents the process flow and the interrelationship between areas.

A tool that can facilitate the analysis of all these variables is the SIPOC. This diagram collects information about suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs, and customers, with a simple but effective visualization.

As you will understand, it is not about simply representing through a diagram; the mapping involves planning, data collection, analysis, and more. To read more about a methodology that can make your work easier, I leave you the following blog:

DMAIC: make the continuous improvement of your processes a reality.

Why is it important to map before automating?

As I said, defining a process is not just about designing a flowchart. It is about identifying, understanding, and defining the existing ones, as they are done today (As-Is), to analyze them and find opportunities for improvement (To-Be). The objective is to improve time, product or service quality, customer satisfaction, or productivity.

If you are thinking of automating, consider analyzing the current processes to remove everything that does not add value, such as unnecessary tasks or systems that hinder the process, to automate a clean and efficient operation.

Remember, if you have an inefficient process, you will automate inefficiency, but you will be automating activities that add value if you have an improved process.

Going back to digital transformation, I was telling you that it is not about buying a system and thinking that it has already been accomplished. Remember to keep the customer in mind; your processes should meet and exceed expectations and provide positive experiences and emotions. A piece of advice, don't just map the company's internal operations; instead, consider building the Customer Journey. That way, you can compare the customer process and your internal processes so that they work in harmony and build automation strategies based on both.

Customer Journey_Imagineer

 

In conclusion, don't swim against the tide by avoiding change. Instead, make sure you identify the processes (company and customer), define them through diagrams, analyze the opportunities for improvement, and eliminate or change everything that doesn't work to automate and take a step towards digital transformation.

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