For some, “it” is seen as the holy grail, and a way to; be more efficient, reduce man-hours, and reduce the reliance on people.
But, what does automation really mean in the context of conformance?
Let’s start by talking about the problem we are trying to solve; people are expensive and hard to scale on demand.
In the context of automation, we (the humans) are forever going to be compared to a robot. A piece of software whose sole “raison d’être” is to follow a set of processes, repeat, and repeat again. This makes it perfect for workflows based on well-structured processes, but there is an important piece of the puzzle that most misinterpret:
Automation and autonomy are not one and the same. We still need the person.
When it comes to conformance, people will always play an important part in the process. Whether it’s client interaction, data analysis & interpretation, or the actual point of certification, we need people and software to work hand-in-hand, rather than attempting to create autonomous automation.
[bctt tweet=”The key elements when talking about automation are knowledge + experience. Without the latter, you simply cannot build an automated process.”]
Conversely, if you do create an automated process based on knowledge and experience, that process will be infinitely more scalable.
Knowledge = confidence + Experience = hindsight.
It all starts with a well-established process. Define what you want to achieve first, map out the tasks and touchpoints, and identify elements that are repeated, and can, therefore, be automated.
Automation is based on a format, a set of rules, which could be (as an example) a specification. If your robot (or software in this instance) can’t read your set of rules, then you will fail before you’ve even started.
Well-implemented automation is based on data; in other words, the task has previously been manually completed and we know that this method works best. Take that information and optimise your process.
Your process is well-established and has been repeated successfully. You’ve taken the learnings from past projects and optimised accordingly. At this point, you’ve built a process that can be automated.
If you want your team to be more efficient, and reduce key-man risk, you have to start with your processes.
A good process can work hand-in-hand with software. A poor process creates friction between person and tooling and hinders the ability to effectively implement automation.
“So how do I reduce key-man risk and make conformance processes more efficient?”
Get your house in order
Review your current processes, identify gaps in documentation, and evaluate the current risk and the impact this could have. Challenge the status quo, and push for key elements like digitised specs, established workflows, and better customer experience.
This is not a one-time process. The best firms will establish and track performance metrics, to understand how their processes can be further improved over time, both in terms of internal efficiency, and improved customer experience.
Consider appropriate tooling
Software should be there to support, not hinder, and with conformance-specific tooling readily available, there should be no reason to hack together bespoke tools or use platforms designed for an entirely different purpose.
We don’t believe that software will fully replace humans; we believe that the correct balance is software that empowers humans to become far more efficient. Software should let them see more and do more faster and more efficiently, with the end goal of providing more and better service to your customers.
Create an agile team
Software can go a long way to reduce key-man risk, but the reality for most is that we still need people to manage the process. Combining people with software is the most powerful way to create an agile team and reduce the reliance on individuals.
Software also has a vital role, both in allowing new employees to become effective faster (as the process is embedded in software and not somebody’s head), and opening the door to new organisational efficiencies such as distributing tasks across disparate teams or creating shared services.
Think of it like cloning your best employee (and their knowledge and experience) and automating that “person”, as much as it is the actual process.