Propel™: Uncovering Hidden Gems for Hyperautomation

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Today, organizations are constantly seeking ways to optimize their processes and maximize productivity, all while reducing costs. This is where Lydonia’s unique Propel™ engagement comes into play. Lydonia Technologies partners with our customers to identify the most valuable processes for automation. Curious to know more? Let's dive into what Propel is and what you can expect from it!

Unveiling the Value

People often think that if a process is complicated, convoluted, or labor intensive, it is most likely very hard to automate. While this may be true sometimes, it is rarely the case. At the heart of the Propel engagement is the concept of value. Processes should be examined first and foremost for the value that would be derived from automating them, rather than how hard it is to do so. But what exactly does value mean in this context?

   Time on Task

Time is a precious resource. An organization’s continuous goal is to reduce the time spent on tasks. By automating repetitive and mundane activities, organizations can free up valuable hours for their employees to focus on more strategic and high-value work. This translates to better efficiency and potentially a reduction in full-time equivalents (FTE) required.

For example, a medium-size home services company engaged Lydonia for a Propel engagement. Working together with the customer, we were able to identify 45 potential automations, of which 10 were in Finance, and with the top 5 alone, representing an ROI of 40 FTEs!

   The Relay Race

Some processes are performed by more than one person, or even more than one group in the organization. As an example:

  • A marketing manager completes a request form and submits it to finance for approval to make a purchase
  • Finance take a few days to review and approve the request against the budget, then the request makes its way from finance to purchasing
  • Purchasing reviews and comes back to marketing with several options available for purchase
  • The marketing manager reviews and then selects their most favorable option
  • Purchasing can now fulfill the purchase request from marketing

If one person were to perform the process, it could be completed in under an hour. However, since several individuals are needed to perform different parts of the process, their varying availability, combined with weekend interruptions, leads to substantial idle time in the process.

This process is well-suited for automation, with digital workers overseeing the process flow, potentially substituting certain actions performed by individuals, and sending timely reminders to those responsible for specific tasks.

   Error Mitigation

Manual processes are often susceptible to errors. For example, copying data between Excel files, unintentionally retained data, and manual data entry mistakes. Our objective is to consistently minimize these risks, and this can be achieved through automation. By implementing automation, organizations can eliminate the need for rework caused by data entry errors, substantially lower the risk of audit failures, and frequently reduce interdepartmental friction stemming from task errors. Hyperautomation enhances accuracy and compliance, resulting in smoother operations.

   Identifying Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks can arise in various ways, such as when a specific individual in the organization is the sole expert in a particular process or when an executive insists on personally handling calculations related to key personnel salaries. Regardless of the cause, these individuals and the processes they exclusively manage can become bottlenecks within the organization.

Another scenario involves a report that must be generated early on Monday mornings, as multiple teams rely on its data for their own analyses. Bottlenecked processes carry a greater burden than typical ones, significantly impeding productivity and causing delays in critical organizational functions.

Propel is instrumental in pinpointing these bottlenecks and offers the opportunity to automate and streamline these areas. By eliminating these constraints, organizations can ensure smoother operations and enhance overall process efficiency.

   The Human Capital Factor

Employees contribute distinct perspectives and expertise to organizations. Lydonia acknowledges the pivotal role of individuals in processes and strives to enhance the efficiency of their work. Through the automation of tedious and repetitive tasks, employees have the freedom to apply their expertise, creativity, and problem-solving abilities to more substantial projects. Our Propel engagement ultimately empowers employees to enhance their contributions, thus “propelling” organizational success further. 

The Treasure Hunt Begins

To kick off a Propel engagement, teams will be formed based on specific line of business within your organization. These groups will work closely together as a team to brainstorm potential processes that hold the most value for hyperautomation. Here are some guidelines to make the most out of your Propel treasure hunt:

  • Brainstorm as a Team: Dedicate a specific timeframe for the brainstorming sessions. This allows teams to focus their efforts and come up with comprehensive lists of potential processes to automate.
  • Organize by teams: To keep the sessions engaging and relevant, it's beneficial to form groups based on teams within your organization (ex: the finance team). This ensures that participants have a deep understanding of the processes within their respective areas, leading to more valuable insights. While it's important to have diverse perspectives, mixing teams during brainstorming sessions can dilute the focus and lead to less productive discussions. Instead, encourage teams to stick together to maintain relevance and maximize efficiency.
  • Prepare for Propel: To support the brainstorming process, a Senior Strategic Consultant from Lydonia will provide you with our “Prepare for Propel” tool that will help you organize and prioritize your potential processes. This tool encourages you to think “Automation First” and allows for easy ranking of processes based on their value.

Wait… What Are We Looking For?

Now, let's touch on what types of processes you should be looking for during your Propel treasure hunt:

  • Mundane, repetitive tasks: Processes that are tedious or monotonous can be excellent targets for automation. These tasks often consume a significant amount of time and can be prime candidates for automation. By freeing employees from repetitive work, you can boost morale and engagement. Look for processes that involve performing the same steps or actions repeatedly. Automating these tasks not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of human error.
  • Frustrating, boring tasks: Identify processes that tend to cause frustration or dissatisfaction among employees. Automating these tasks can relieve employees from the burden of dealing with such processes, leading to improved job satisfaction.
  • Error-prone tasks: Processes that are prone to errors can benefit greatly from automation. By introducing consistency and accuracy through automation, organizations can mitigate the audit risks and improve overall quality.
  • Time-sensitive tasks: Processes that experience spikes in workload during specific periods, such as end-of-month or quarterly tasks, are ideal candidates for automation. By efficiently handling these peak periods, organizations can ensure timely and accurate outcomes, as well as avoiding having to augment their workforce by hiring temps to mitigate the extra workload.
  • Forms, Excels, Reports, Inputs: Look for processes that involve handling forms, spreadsheets, generating reports, or transferring data between different systems. These manual activities can often be automated.
  • Triage processes: Any process that involves triage, such as sorting and categorizing incoming invoices, forms, or mail, is worth considering for automation.

A Good Treasure Hunt Begins With a Good Treasure Map

Now that we have a better understanding of what to look for, let's explore areas within the organization where we often find great candidates for automation:

  • Finance: Billing, Accounts Payable, intake of any financial transactions, and invoice processing are areas that can greatly benefit from automation. Automation helps streamline these finance-related processes, reducing errors and improving accuracy.
  • Human Resources: Recruiting, onboarding, offboarding, training processes, and other HR-related tasks can often be time-consuming and repetitive. Automating these processes ensures a smooth and efficient employee experience, as well as competitive recruiting in a tough environment, where losing a sought-after candidate can be quite costly.
  • Operations / Back-office: Look for processes within your operations or back-office functions that involve data entry, document management, or workflow approvals, to name a few examples. Automating these processes can save time and enhance productivity.
  • IT: Systems and applications accounts provisioning, systems and network monitoring, applications testing, are just a few of many great candidates you would find in IT.
  • Call Centers: Processes within call centers, such as handling maintenance requests, identity verification, or processing simple transactions, can be automated, enhancing the customer service experience and expediting response times.
  • Mailroom: Triage processes in the mailroom, such as sorting and managing incoming and outgoing mail, can be automated, improving efficiency and reducing turnaround times.

In Conclusion

Propel is a fantastic way to quickly reveal valuable opportunities for hyperautomation within your business processes, serving as an effective means to harness the power of hyperautomation throughout your entire enterprise.

In a recent Propel engagement with a Financial Services company, we identified 55 processes suitable for automation. Among these, high-priority processes alone could yield savings of 7-13 full-time equivalents (FTEs), resulting in a total of 76 FTEs saved for the organization. This achievement was accompanied by operational streamlining and a reduction in customer hold times within their Call Centers, leading to a significant enhancement in customer service.

Keep in mind that the potential for automation is limitless, and we're here to assist you in exploring and becoming proficient in identifying these opportunities and to think with the principals of automation. As we embark on this journey together, don't constrain yourself with feasibility concerns; instead, focus on identifying processes that offer the most value to your organization. Propel is a fantastic way to start thinking how automation can transform all aspects of your business.

By partnering with Lydonia on a Propel engagement, your organization can unlock the potential of automation. Let's gather your teams, brainstorm collectively, leverage the provided tools, and uncover processes that will drive your organization to new heights.

If you would like to learn more about Propel and its advantages for your organization, please feel free to reach out.