How Process Automation Reduces Admin Work

How Process Automation Reduces Admin Work

How Process Automation Reduces Admin Work

Before Steph, Digital Improvement Lead at Todd Energy, automated their staff and contractor onboarding process, it would take 6+ hours to complete.

Now, it only takes 2, no longer relying on spreadsheets, back & forth emails and individuals’ memory.

See how Steph this and what the feedback has been like in the organisation in the snippet below.

Transcript

I guess a great example of that is the staffing contractor onboarding flow.

And you have touched on that already a little bit, Sean.

But prior to us automating this process it would take upwards of six hours on and off for us to onboard a new staff or contractor, and I guess it was run out of an Excel workbook.

If I’m completely honest with you, It had some templated emails in it, but there was lots of backwards and force and a huge reliance on individuals to remember what was going on and to keep that process ticking.

Honestly it took me about 20 hours to build that process. It’s quite a meaty one.

And it was probably our first more high complex process that we built.

We had some pretty amazing engagement and ownership with the lovely ladies that run that process.

And I asked them post go-live, ‘just gut feel how much time is this saving you now?’ And they estimate between three and four hours.

So three and four hours per new start is a pretty decent saving I think.

And the feedback from them was along the lines of ‘I don’t need to remember where the process is at and the system just keeps it on track and I get the notifications when I need to do something’, which I guess in turn allows them to provide more value add to the business.

So yeah, each team has got a bit of a mix of simple and complex processes that I guess keeps us working in the trees.

We’ve spoken about working in the weeds a little bit.

But I guess continuing to push and improve once those processes are in and rolled out to, and tying back to that first statement, making a plan and a roadmap, socializing it and holding yourselves to account, that’s really key.

 

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Process Optimisation: The Case For Automation First vs. Mapping First

Process Optimisation: The Case For Automation First vs. Mapping First

Process Optimisation: The Case For Automation First vs. Mapping First

The question of process mapping vs process automation comes up all the time when figuring out how to tackle a business process problem. Do you start with a process mapping project? Does automation feel like a next step? What is it you really want to change for your organisation?

In our recent webinar, Jemma discussed how her team at Glenelg Shire Council tackled these questions. Watch the 3 min video snippet below (or read the transcript)

Transcript

We had a whole raft of projects that we were launching over the next 5 years. The biggest things for us for automation were:

  • Process knowledge existing only in the brains of staff, which is a huge organisational risk.
  • Building on that, at council we have cupboards full of well intentioned procedures and maps that we create and then immediately start to diverge from
  • And primarlily, customer experience.

So we’re a large square km, low population Local Government Authority. Giving every staff and community member the same customer experience when interacting with us was so important. It’s also important to note that we started this project pre-covid, but all of this was obviously reinforced by the pandemic, so it’s aligned really closely to our pandemic response.

Q: A lot of Local Governments go down that path of process mapping as well, and automation almost seems like a step too far or a futuristic piece. Why was it that you went down a different path there? I know you’ve mapped processes before, but why have you tackled this problem with Automation at the forefront?

For me it was about delivering a tangible benefit to our organisation that can be understood by all levels of our organisation.

When the project team or transformation team was brought on board by Digital Glenelg, we inherited a whole bunch of process maps, great work that people prior to us in the organisation had done.

What we found is that when you went talk to staff about them, that experience of what they did currently was different., So I really wanted this project to be something live, that didn’t require project artefacts to be kept off to the side,.

Right from the get go when asking for resource from the organisation, I really wanted to be able to say “If you give X to this project then we’ll deliver Y” .

For the “Delivery of Y”, I use the ASOS example. When you buy something from ASOS, you get a notification that your order has been selected, packed, pickjed and then it goes off to Australia Post. Then you get all those communitactions; it’s being shipped, it’s out for delivery today, it has been delivered.

So for us it was about procuring a product that sent those notifications out for us; it was about “the postie should be delivering the mail”, not stopping to call people to tell them their mail was coming today. That for me, was where I saw the value for our organisation of this project.

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Making Process Improvement a Priority

Making Process Improvement a Priority

Making Process Improvement a Priority

The best process improvement initiative is the one that gets done.

It’s simple. The best type of process improvement initiative at your company is the one that gets done.

Not the major project that you keep talking about but never action. Not the “current-state” process mapping exercise that ticks a box but has no follow-up actions.

No.

The BEST type is the one that you action.

Where you ship improvements.

For process improvement to have a true impact, your employees need to be able to touch and feel it. They need to feel the impact of those improvements in their everyday working life, no matter how big or small.

Process improvement is affected by momentum. By regularly shipping improvements – even the smallest improvements – you begin to build a culture of change.

We see this with our own clients. It’s why Flowingly often starts off being used by a single department and within 2 years is used company-wide. Because the Operations team starts automating some processes, then the HR team takes a peek, then Sales, Finance and so on.

When they ask how the other team did it, the answer is simple. “We started.”

This applies to both methodologies and platforms.

Lean, Six Sigma, Kaizen, Agile. They all work.

No-code, low-code, mapping, mining, RPA. They all work too.

Each of these methodologies and platform types will have an impact when done well.

The question you need to ask is “which one can we action?”

Process improvement is affected by momentum. By regularly shipping improvements – even the smallest improvements – you begin to build a culture of change.

Bonus for making it this far…

Here are some tips for creating effective process improvement initiatives in your organization.

1. Be honest about your constraints

Got a decent sized team of developers? Great. All of the platform types listed above are options to you.

If not, cross off low-code, RPA and process mining.

Genuine support and vision for process improvement from the exec team? Business-wide process mapping is a great option.

If not, don’t even try.

Be very honest with yourself about your constraints. Without acknowledging them, you will end up with false starts and inaction.

2. Focus on consistency

What can the business continuously maintain over the coming years?

What can you consistently deploy?

You want to choose a tool that works for you today AND in 2 years’ time.

You might have a couple of weeks in January to dedicate to building that highly-integrated, uber-automated workflow. But will you then be swamped with BAU for the rest of the year?

Consistent effort is key to process improvement.

3. Get started

Action creates momentum.

Many of the successful process initiatives that I have seen are business-driven. Often, they are started by one or two people who are fed up with the status quo.

Every business needs doers.

You hear commentators mention it on the sports field all the time. “She really leads by example”. What they are saying is that she is doing the right things, and the others are inspired to follow.

The same goes in the workplace.

4. And once you’ve done this…keep improving

No process is perfect. No way.

Focus on shipping improvements – not aiming for perfection.

Maybe it’s making a process slightly more streamlined by removing an unnecessary step. Maybe it’s automating an approval that takes your team 10 minutes every day.

By continuously shipping improvements you will begin to build a culture of continuous improvement within yourself and the people around you.

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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting with Workflow Automation

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting with Workflow Automation

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting with Workflow Automation

1. Don’t attack your biggest process first (even if it’s your most broken)

You’re hosting a dinner party. You’ve got a recipe you’ve cooked a thousand times before that you could make with your eyes closed and a recipe you’ve made once that you weren’t 100% confident with.

You need to cook both, but which do you start with?

A lot of people come to us with a specific process in mind they want mapped and automated. Usually, this process is the most inefficient within the organization, is difficult to automate and includes a truck load of people.

Similar to the dinner party scenario, would we recommend you automate with the process you know inside out or the process causing you the most problems? Definitely the first.

This might look like tackling your shorter, simple leave request workflow before attempting employee onboarding. This will help you (1) gain experience in building out processes (2) get employees engaged with workflow faster and (3) help your organization build momentum.

Once you’ve mastered a few simple workflows and got company buy in, you’ll be in a much better position to tackle that complex, highly-political process.

2. Not starting with the process first

If a process isn’t good to start with, how will automating it improve it?

Time and time again businesses come to us saying their processes aren’t working. Compliance is shoddy, deadlines are being missed and their teams are stressed.

While workflow automation has a part to play in helping businesses improve compliance and productivity, it isn’t the only part.

Like polishing a turd, automating a poor process will only highlight the flaws in a process, not hide them.

Having great businesses processes is the key to true process excellence for us, that’s why every Flowingly customer gets a customer success manager. The goal shouldn’t be automating processes, the goal should be achieving process excellence and creating better workflow builders.

Our friends at rhipe discussed how they approach this, from process to automation to integration, at our latest webinar which you can find here.

This might look like tackling your shorter, simple leave request workflow before attempting employee onboarding.

3. Not providing additional context and information to processes

Sometimes people don’t follow a process because it doesn’t exist. Sometimes people just don’t follow a process because it isn’t engaging or easy to follow.

Let’s say you have an incident report/harassment process mapped out within your organization.

Can your employees quickly get access to your policies around harassment? What if someone brushes off an incident because they aren’t sure it constitutes harassment within the business?

When it comes to an incident workflow adding things like a list of company values, links to bullying policies and assurances of confidentiality can quickly improve the employee experience. Ensuring your process isn’t just mapped, but clear and easy for any employee to follow is crucial, whether they’ve been at the company a day or a year.

4. Having a set and forget attitude

Process improvement doesn’t stop with automation. It’s a never-ending process, not something you can set up once and then forget about.

Some companies make the mistake of taking a mapped process, automating it and then never re-evaluating it again. Continuously evaluating and searching for better ways to optimize your workflows is the key to creating true process excellence.

Just because a process has been mapped and automated doesn’t make it perfect. With automation reporting you can identify in real-time where your process bottlenecks are.

Kristen at Upper Hutt City Council outlined their continuous improvement approach in a recent webinar you can check out here.

When talking about workflow iterations she said “we started off simple with a form with 3 short fields but as I learned more about how things worked and talked to other people in other departments…I was able to expand on what we already have. And make it better. Now we just use a single table.”

Key to iterating on your workflows is having a platform that supports ongoing improvement. If small changes take you hours or days to deploy, you won’t do them. Make sure you choose a platform where workflow tweaks can be made in minutes (like Flowingly).

5. Sending irrelevant, excessive notifications

Notifications are an excellent way to help team members complete steps in a process, but they need to contain all the necessary information and be sent at the right time.

Receiving a notification that doesn’t tell you how to complete a step – bad for user experience. Being sent an approval notification after the deadline – bad for productivity.

Sending out too many unnecessary reminders (especially irrelevant ones) about due dates and approvals will have the opposite effect when it comes to productivity. In fact, notification overload will make your users more likely to ignore or mute notifications – not only harming productivity but also harming the future adoption of digital technologies.

Save the reminders for when you need something actioned or when someone needs to oversee part of the process.

Book a demo and see Flowingly process mapping and workflow automation for yourself. 👇

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Celebrating Flowingly’s $4.5m Fundraise!

Celebrating Flowingly’s $4.5m Fundraise!

Celebrating Flowingly’s $4.5m Fundraise!

A letter from the CEO

Last week we announced that Flowingly had secured an incredible $4.5m in funding, led by GD1 and Icehouse Ventures.

While this is great news for us as a business, we’re actually way more excited for what this means for our customers.

At Flowingly our goal has always been to enable front-line employees to map, automate and improve their own processes without coding or IT support.

This new investment will allow us to expand the Flowingly product and vision to new markets, allowing organizations worldwide to rapidly transform their processes and create process champions from their employees.

It’ll also help us build up our team, which will in turn improve our product offering. We’ll be able to release even more features faster than ever and make significant improvements to the Flowingly experience.

A true no-code solution

I founded Flowingly in 2016, while searching for a workflow automation solution.

Most of the mid-market solutions I found required heavy IT ownership, with IT teams solely setting up and maintaining organizational workflows. Many of these platforms were also big, clunky legacy solutions which were impeding true agile process automation efforts.

I needed something different. An agile, no-code tool I could build powerful workflows in without a team of developers.

That’s how Flowingly came about.

After years of working on and self-investing in the product, we finally managed to create a product we were proud of.

As a team, we’ve always had a strong belief in the power of company-wide workflow automation and process improvement.

Your people are your greatest asset and the people who use your processes every day – why not give them the tools and the support they need to improve the way they work?

We’ve seen this vision resonate with organizations from smaller mid-market businesses to a Fortune 100 company.

Process improvement and automation shouldn’t be limited to enterprise organizations.

At Flowingly our goal has always been to enable front-line employees to map, automate and improve their own processes without coding or IT support.

Jon Kalaugher

CEO & Founder, Flowingly

Creating a new category

Two things were essential to us when developing the product.

Firstly, it needed to be user-friendly. If organizations were going to create process champions and citizen developers out of their staff, the tool needed to be easy to use. We needed your HR managers, your Heads of Finance and your CIOs to be able to jump in and get started. That’s why we went completely drag and drop.

Secondly, we wanted to create a truly no-code experience. No-code for us meant no rules, no developers, no knowledge of code languages. At all.

This has meant we’ve been able to help mid-market businesses around the world transform their old, manual ways of working into modern digital experiences in as little as 30 minutes.

It has also helped empower front-line employees to create and improve their own processes.

We’ve seen a rates officer at a local council lead the way in fully transforming their financial processes. We’ve seen a waste management company automate over 80 workflows in just 12 months.

The power of process improvement has never been more accessible.

From our team to yours

Once again, a massive thank you to all of our customers who placed their trust in us for their process improvement journeys.

We couldn’t have done it without the support of the teams at GD1 and Icehouse Ventures who are fully backing the Flowingly mission.

To see how you could cut admin and waste out of your processes, get a trial today!

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Process Mapping and Automation – Better Together 

Process Mapping and Automation – Better Together 

Process Mapping and Automation – Better Together 

A lot of businesses approach us with a single platform requirement.

Maybe they’re looking for process mapping software because don’t have clear or well documented processes in place. Or maybe they’re looking for automation because they’re having problems with delays, productivity and compliance.

Typically, they aren’t looking for a solution that does both.

One of the reasons for this is that it’s rare that a platform offers both – Flowingly does because we have seen first-hand the impact strong processes can have on the success of workflow automation and the power workflow automation can bring to mapped processes.

So why do you need process mapping?

A company needs to have their processes clearly mapped out for their employees to avoid chaos and ensure compliance. The more structured a company’s processes, the better their teams will work and the easier it will be to scale.

Without a clear process map for employees to follow, it becomes increasingly difficult to properly manage projects from start to finish. There might be information sitting in massive email chains, on stray pieces of paper or worse – in somebody’s head. If that person leaves, where does that leave the process?

By mapping and clearly defining your organization’s processes you can ensure consistency across the business – so even a new employee understands how a task or project is completed from start to end.

Okay, so maybe you’re thinking process mapping makes sense but automation seems intensive or time-consuming.

The combination of workflow automation and process mapping provides organizations with a greater level of insight into not just their processes, but how their processes are running.

Just because a process is mapped doesn’t mean it’s being followed. With automation, you can ensure it is and if it isn’t, you can understand why.

Process maps help show the relationship between different tasks and help communicate the steps required in each process, who is responsible for what and the requirements of the tasks. Workflow automation comes in and helps ensure that each task is completed on time and accurately.

The combination of these two tools is the key to process excellence for many organizations and can help significantly improve process efficiency without dramatically increasing costs or resource.

Alright, so why Flowingly?

There are great process mapping platforms. There are also great workflow automation platforms. There aren’t many platforms that do both.

This means you might find an incredible tool where your business teams build processes but when it comes to automating them you’ve got to basically hand them over to your developers to translate and build them all over again in a different tool. Or maybe you’ve found an incredible workflow tool but have no idea where to start when it comes to mapping out your processes.

An automated workflow is only as strong as the process it’s built against.

With Flowingly you’ve got both tools built-in, meaning you can rapidly map out a process right off the bat and automate it with a click. Just like that. No developers, no platform switching.

While many of those businesses who approach us come to us in need of either a process mapping or workflow automation tool, more often than not they’re really looking for both.

True digital transformation comes when process improvement and process excellence is felt organization-wide, with businesses actively caring about the experience of their staff and customers.

Book a demo and see Flowingly process mapping and workflow automation for yourself. 👇

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