From the Loch Ness Monster to everyone’s favorite home-phoning 80s Extra-Terrestrial, the human brain is great at creating fantastical fillers for deep water, deep space, and other environments of which we are uncertain.
It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. We create stories to make the best of the mind-boggling fear that sometimes (OK, a lot of times) we’re totally clueless.
This fear of the unknown also makes humans averse to changing the status quo and striking out into the unknown—even when it’s the right thing to do.
And nowhere is this illustrated more clearly than in the business world, where we often see companies cling to decaying processes and management techniques so inefficient they’d make you scream louder than 7-year-old Drew Barrymore the first time she runs into E.T.
Change management is by no means a new concept. But in the world of modern enterprise, digitally-transformed change management is a whole new creature.
Digital transformation asks organizations to apply technology that upends the status quo and creates delivery and business models that couldn’t have existed just a decade ago.
Digital transformation is the embodiment of change.
It’s quick. It’s big. And it’s overwhelming when you’re still trying to use manual systems to tame the inevitable chaos that comes with that level of change.
But with the help of a new digital practice called workflow content automation (WCA), there’s a better way to manage change.
What Exactly is Workflow Content Automation?
To understand WCA let’s first take a look at “automation.”
In the age of digital transformation, consumer is king. They can just as easily shop from your global competitors as they can from your local ones.
That means companies and departments are increasingly being required to do more with less. Technological automation empowers them to do this by removing complex steps, handling redundant tasks in an instant, streamlining processes, and overall alleviating stress on workers.
But while automation is absolutely essential as companies scale in the modern world, it’s important to remember that automating simply for the sake of automation is not the same as automating for the purpose of definitively improving processes.
For example, simply turning a 10-step, paper-based onboarding program into a 10-step, digital onboarding process isn’t exactly using automation to its full transformative power.
But creating an entirely digital process that integrates a variety of technologies to achieve business objectives? Now that’s transformative. That’s workflow content automation (WCA).
What WCA isn’t is a system for making processes faster simply for the sake of making them faster. Instead it focuses on evolving operations and growth. By creating efficiencies and reducing friction in your most valuable workflows, WCA increases revenue, volume, cash flow, and more.
For example, say you need to scale several different departments for a fast-approaching sale. With the right automations in place to manage this change, onboarding dozens of contractors, turning on a few more servers to handle website traffic, and placing an order for ten times your standard packaging order are all as easy as flipping a proverbial switch.
When your success relies on the completion of certain processes such as sales proposals, work orders, permits, online orders, completed contracts, and more; there’s no reason not to automate as many of them as you can.
With careful, thoughtful planning on your part; using WCA to power change management means your organization is always ready to dodge known issues and complete high value processes in record time.
Experts estimate that WCA will be a $6B market by the year 2023. And because it’s a full-business platform with the means to automate nearly every process, we’re willing to bet it’s here to stay.
What Are the Benefits of Workflow Content Automation?
Process- and paper-heavy industries like finance, real estate, legal, government, and education are a particularly good fit for WCA.
However, nearly every single modern enterprise undergoing digital transformation can reap these benefits when implementing workflow content automation to prepare for and execute change.
1. Faster Performance
You’re likely to see a big boost in the responsiveness of processes and departments in which WCA solutions are implemented.
Internally, this might mean getting new hires up to speed faster and more effectively. Externally, customers might begin seeing faster response times to their customer service inquiries or quicker turnaround on purchases.
2. Operator Error is Eliminated
Fatigue, distraction, and being overwhelmed with change can all cause even the best workers to make honest mistakes from time to time.
But honest mistakes don’t mean harmless mistakes. A paper from NASA found that human error has been tied to massive oil spills, airline mishaps, and medical malpractice resulting in death. Why take a chance with stakes that high?
Humans make errors. Digital systems that are programmed correctly don’t. And automating your forms and workflows to include real-time data validation means cutting down on the time your staff spends recognizing and correcting mistakes made externally.
3. Employee Talents Are Utilized More Effectively
For most employees, nothing is as mind numbing—or more likely to prompt the search for a new job—as completing repetitive tasks all day long.
In fact, two-thirds of U.S. workers have reported being “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work. You can keep paying them to be physically present but mentally absent or you can actually utilize the talents for which you hired them.
Enabling workflow content automation for repetitive, complex tasks means even your most high value workflows will enjoy impressive completion rates while your human capital is free to pursue more challenging and productive work.
4. Automated Communication Can Take You Global
As long as you’re able to complete the upfront work of mapping processes to put the right steps in place, WCA can easily empower employees to visualize and manage their own tasks within even the most complex workflows.
No more repetitive, time-sucking check-ins to make sure everyone knows what they’re working on and with whom every single day. Automated notifications about deadlines, changes, delivery targets, and more keep workers productive and in sync. Your team doesn’t even have to be in the same room, department, or time zone anymore.
And you can also say goodbye to concerns that certain employees are taking advantage of their remote status to slack off. Automatic notifications keep management abreast of how employees are progressing on assigned tasks.
5. Massive Scalability Is Within Reach
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of WCA is how scalable it can make any system to which it’s applied.
No matter how big your HR team is, it’s unlikely they won’t have to pull themselves away from their important daily tasks to accommodate onboarding a huge influx of contractors.
The number of people on your team isn’t necessarily always the bottleneck. Using the same example, can your onboarding processes realistically scale effectively enough to prevent attrition and quickly put a large number of contractors on the floor with the training and knowledge they’ll need to succeed?
The popular grocery delivery service Instacart wasn’t able to keep up with demand until they introduced an automated, mobile-first contractor onboarding workflow.
Not only did it accelerate contract completion rates by 270 percent; it empowered them to get to revenue almost 300 percent faster than ever before.
What Do I Need to Know Before Implementing Workflow Content Automation?
While the many benefits of enabling WCA are sure to impact the course of your organization for the better, there are a few areas in which you’ll want to be prepared to tame the chaos caused by a high level of digital transformation.
Be Ready to Pivot and Reinforce Existing Infrastructure
According to ThinkSmart, now is a critical time to ensure your operational infrastructure is up to snuff to handle the speed at which your newly-automated systems will perform.
Delivering faster, frictionless service in some of your departments and processes will set a precedent that customers with come to expect in all of your departments and processes—whether you can realistically meet that expectation or not.
In this case, there can be too much of a good thing. Don’t let rapid growth become the downfall of your organization. Set expectations externally by carefully managing the rate of change internally to ensure your infrastructure can deliver through your digital automation transformation.
You Will Likely Need to Revisit Your Organizational Structure
Now that your offboarding, onboarding, and training processes are flawlessly automated, it’s time to put them to the test—using your own team.
Creating efficiencies in your workflows often means creating redundancies in your organizational structure.
While some employees may need to be offboarded so that new hires with digital skills can join the team, don’t miss this opportunity to retrain workers that were previously stuck in repetitive jobs to uncover their hidden talents and strengths.
Flexibility is Paramount
WCA makes flexibility lightyears faster and more accessible than it has been historically. In the early days, you might find it hard for your team, your culture, and your own personal mindset to keep up.
In order to be prepared for it, you must plan for change to happen at a moment’s notice. This is the strength of incorporating automation into your change management program.
The fields, forms, workflows, departments, and whatever else you’re working with today simply might not be necessary tomorrow. Adopting and championing a flexible mindset will be paramount in calming any overwhelm and chaos that digital change introduces.
Digitizing your change management process with workflow content automation might not give you the supernatural strength needed to peddle your BMX bike into the treetops en route to an alien spaceship—but it will help you tame the chaos of change and take advantage of the groundbreaking benefits that digital transformation can bring to your organization.