Smart thinking should be an integral part of automated business software: both in its use and in its design. Smart doesn’t mean complicated. In fact, far from it – complexity increases the chance of errors and inefficiency, and you may even end up failing to achieve what you set out to do. No, the best smart thinking hones in on the most important aspects to offer the best results for the least effort. And the key component in the use of any automated business software is the process that is being automated. So let’s assume that you already have excellent automated business software in place, and that you now want to start automating processes.
SMART Process Objectives
If you’ve read articles on management or attended training classes, you may already be familiar with SMART objectives. SMART, in the context of automated business software to automate a process, stands for:
- Specific. The result you get can be precisely defined (and not just as ‘the end of the process’!).
- Measurable. You can measure the result, for example as ‘order shipped and invoiced’.
- Achievable. It is, in fact, possible to obtain the end result of the process.
- Relevant. The result truly contributes to the success of your organization
- Time-Bound. The result is achieved with a pre-defined time limit
Should You Automate?
For any given business process, the first check to make is whether the process itself satisfies the SMART criteria above. If a process doesn’t produce a relevant result in the first place, then automating it simply means you will achieve irrelevance faster! On the other hand, if the process satisfies the first four criteria, i.e. it’s producing a meaningful, useful result, but it’s taking too long to do manually, then good automated business software may be just what you need.
Mapping Out Your Process
Top automated business software should include the possibility for you to map out the different stages of your process, for example, as a clear flow diagram with any choices or conditional actions as well. This is an important step because it helps to retain clarity in the automation process. It also facilitates changing the process later if required. With this schema in place, you can then automate. Top of the line automation software should then offer you different possibilities for automation. One possibility is to use a smart macro recorder (takes account of your intentions, not just your actions) to immediately capture the process. Another one is to provide a clear, yet powerful scripting language with which to construct the sequence of actions required.
Besides contributing to faster, more efficient operations, good automated business software can also guard against business process breakdown in different ways. For example, for overnight printing of letters to be sent out to customers or constituents, the right scripting language in an automated business software solution will make it easy to include failover routines to switch from one printer to another, in case of toner running out or paper jams. So, between humans and computer software (also built by humans), a little SMART thinking can produce excellent results.
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