You have a dynamite team of creative thinkers and problem-solvers — but in addition to what you want them to achieve, you have them spending hours each week manually compiling reports, building slide decks, and processing routine approvals.
Automating manual, repetitive tasks and processes can free up time for more valuable tasks — and also boost morale, improve the bottom line, and foster a culture of innovation. But if your team is busy now, how can you convince them to take the time and put in the effort to adopt entirely new automated work processes?
The short answer: You don’t. Instead of taking on a complex work process automation project, look for a solution that empowers your team members to automate their own processes with flexible building blocks and easy-to-configure automation rules.
Here are five ways to start building automated workflows at the individual or team level and then grow it across the entire organization to improve your business as a whole.
1. Ask Your Team What They Want to Stop Doing
The first step in any automation process is deciding what to automate. Start with the mundane, low-value tasks that may need to happen, but that nobody likes doing (even the most satisfied, committed employees hate something on their to-do lists).
Repetitive tasks such as compiling a weekly status report or requesting approvals for ordinary purchases are important, but they can also be boring. When you automate the most mundane or disliked tasks, you free up time and attention for more creative work that can help advance your business. Look for the teams with the largest number of repetitive tasks, or the highest level of annoyance — always a strong motivator for change.
2. See What Resources You Already Have
From a work management platform to messaging tools to personalized alerts, chances are your teams are already familiar with some of the building blocks for automation. More forward-thinking groups at your company may have even found their own solutions on their own, either for specific projects or to improve their own team processes. Not only will they know how to get the best results from the solutions they’re currently using, they will serve as great ambassadors and seasoned experts when it’s time to roll out new processes to the rest of the organization.
3. Look for Tools That Will Work for Everyone, not Just a Few
Every team is different, so make sure your automated workflow solution is able to address the common work challenges that everyone faces, rather than only working for specific teams or edge-case processes. Help everyone achieve more with an automation solution that offers easy-to-configure rules that anyone can set up, without a single line of code, complex formulas, or help from IT.
4. Reduce Your Reliance on Email
As you automate tasks, resist the urge to push all communications — such as deadline reminders or completion notifications — out via email. For example, with Smartsheet you can set up automated alerts and update requests that prompt team members to update status from within the app and using mobile push notifications. A centralized platform lets the entire team see when tasks are completed, without generating lengthy email threads. Updates and alerts can be delivered to the specific people who’ve been assigned a task, instead of spamming a team email alias with messages that aren’t relevant to most members. Keeping inboxes free of requests and notifications can help employees prioritize and respond to the emails that really matter.
5. Choose an Automation Solution That Works Well With Mobile
As you evaluate potential automation solutions, keep mobile front and center. Look for a solution that connects information seamlessly and securely across devices, so workers can check project status and approve requests from anywhere, so you can define how and where teamwork happens.
Any automation initiative should help employees do their work more efficiently and free them up for creative thinking and higher-value tasks, so they can be more effective and achieve more. By starting small with a user-friendly, highly-flexible platform, you’ll not only be able to take advantage of automation, but successfully engage others along the way — providing the best chance of success for your overall effort.