Automation in Your Business: Small and Big Changes
Some process automations that you might want to tackle in your business can be integrated slowly, tested by a small group of stakeholders and then released to the company at-large after it’s fully polished. Others have to be implemented all at once. In order to prepare yourself and your staff, you need to clearly understand which automations you can introduce piecemeal and which require big leaps of faith.
Judging types of small changes in automation
If you’re not going to flip the switch overnight, you can start piloting your automation:
By yourself. Few things are more effective drivers of change than top-down examples. If you start using and extolling the virtues of a new process, others will buy-in.
With internal change agents. Who are the internal people most likely to embrace change, take risks, and tolerate some stumbles along the way? They’re the people who should test-pilot new implementations first.
With external change agents. In the same vein, you likely have relationships with customers that you know to be open to new ideas and patient with an error or two. If your automation is customer-facing, such as switching to automated invoices, bring these clients on board first.
If you’re communicative and up front about the possibility for hiccups, you’d be surprised at how this experience — even if it’s riddled with errors! — can actually strengthen the bond those customers have with your organization.
Preparing for big changes in automation
Sometimes you can’t pilot a change and have to make a change full-stop. If this is case:
Give as much notice and training as possible. Even a perfect new system will fail if no one knows how to use it the first day.
Set a realistic timeline. Too often companies set overambitious timelines, where in the end you have to work with a system that is far from properly implemented yet.
Try to run both systems side–by-side. Dual data entry is a pain, but it ensures your new process and your old process are delivering the same results or answers. Be honest with employees that the transition will require more work than usual, but the goal is to lessen the workload. Set clear dates for when the duality will end.