The commercialization of automation: a new opportunity for businesses large and small to reduce errors, eliminate bottlenecks and improve the quality of products and services. Instead of spending time, energy and resources on manual work, today’s entrepreneurs can outsource day-to-day operations to technology and stay focused on the big picture. However, not even automation is without challenges.
Whether because of resistance to technology, poor implementation strategies, or unsuccessful user onboarding, some organizations never get to reap the full benefits of intelligent business automation.
Where to start, and how to approach it?
And, once automation is there, which change management tactic to employ?
Here’s what you need to know about overcoming the challenges of automation.
The Man vs. Machine Talk
Gen Xers are not the only ones to resist the unknown and increasingly automated future. Further development of the digital age frightens members of all generations, especially when it comes to the business environment. Will our jobs be safe in a year or two, or will humans be replaced with robots?
Try not to be surprised if this is the first question you hear upon announcing automation to your employees. Don’t discard it as ignorant, but answer with hard facts. Automation is not here to take over but to make our lives easier. It was us, humans, who designed it, and it was intended for us too.
Reassure your staff that the upcoming change won’t be as difficult as they imagine and that it definitely won’t herald the end of the human era. Discuss the overhaul of operations as they know them to introduce the change through dialogue about pain points, general satisfaction, and progress.
Consulting with the Experts
You don’t need experts per se; they would only make the entire process more complicated. The only experts you need are your employees since they are the ones who know your everyday business operations inside out. Let them be the ones to talk you through implementation and adoption steps.
In terms of how things work, employees always have a better understanding than leadership, meaning that they’ll be able to discern outdated processes from critical operations and automate only those processes that make sense. Nobody knows pain points and core issues more than them, not even you.
But it’s not only their practical insight that makes this change management tactic so effective. By allowing them to participate in the process, you’re letting them know that their feedback matters, which automatically boosts employee engagement. Make sure that they are the ones in total control.
Simplification Is the Priority
By definition, automation is a “technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum”. The italic part is both the key to understanding its true purpose and the main guideline for the application process.
It’s not rare for employees to get used to doing something the difficult way – everyday habits are extremely hard to uproot, even when there’s an easier solution. It’s up to you to get familiar with their personal workflow management styles and compare them to choose the most efficient work process.
Automation will simplify things because it’s been designed to that. But to ensure that your staff is onboard for this change, make it crystal clear that you’re open to suggestions too. Brainstorm the easiest solutions together, but let them come up with the simplest, most effective results themselves.
Building Initial Confidence
Neither of this will make difference if the automation doesn’t prove to be beneficial from the early start. If your employees don’t see any improvement in their everyday workflow, everything you’ve previously pitched to them will fall short. Their confidence will plop together with your initial promises.
This is why the first few weeks of implementing automation are critical from the change management standpoint. It’s also why you should never automate highly specific processes first. The positive change should be easy to notice and feel, and should affect all employees and separate departments.
Start with something that guarantees a widespread benefit and is easy to master and use. That way, employees will have time to adjust to the change by learning to leverage the system for everyday tasks. It’s only then that you should start introducing processes that are complex and time-consuming.
Of course, a big part of your change management tactic will depend on the automation system itself. The adoption of new technology can only be as successful as that technology is intuitive, user-friendly and truly helpful, which is why you need to pay utmost attention to which system you’ll be applying.
Don’t choose it for its technical features only. A reliable business automation tool must be very easy to navigate through, so never settle for a solution without an intuitive UI, complimentary customer support, and step-by-step user onboarding program that your employees could finish in a few weeks.