In order to enhance productivity, take the time to assess your organization’s current processes and determine where automation will provide the most value. Hiring a consultant or having a member of your staff who is experienced in assessing operations efficiently look at or model your current workflow is a critical first step. When that evaluation is complete, and you have clear instructions for making your processes more efficient, then it’s time to take the leap to automation.
After you automate workflows, you may run into the all-too-common challenge of user adoption. People who are used to doing things a certain way may not be willing to make changes. The key is to take the time to identify the pain points in a process and explain to your users how the new system will make their lives easier.
For instance, you know you need to automate or add capacity when one particular step in a process is stacking up on someone’s desk (or in their inbox). You also have a tremendously helpful resource in the people who are on the ground doing the work and can offer valuable insight into how their everyday processes need improvement. The bottom line is to talk to those people and understand their specific needs so you don’t invest in a system that’s ignored.
As you consider investing in new automation technology, it’s helpful to look at a couple of areas where workflow automation has already proven to be valuable for cities and large organizations: route optimization and scheduling.
Route optimization is a prime example for any type of organization—regardless of size or industry—delivering products or services to the public. Driving around a city without a strategic plan for reaching the maximum number of scheduled stops is a waste of time and money. Leaving route planning and navigation to staff allows room for human error. Those mistakes can lead to poor customer service experiences and hours of lost productivity.
Automating and optimizing the route-selection process not only eliminates that risk, but the data is collected in the process can help cities more effectively track the progress of projects that could interfere with regularly scheduled routes. A better grasp on which route segments are impacted by delays can help prioritize which projects or areas to service first, resulting in increased productivity and profitability.
The impact of automating scheduling for a large organization in the utilities/infrastructure space or a city services department is similar. If you’re going to tear up a road, wouldn’t it be nice to know if another division or department plans to tear up the same road to access a different utility line in a few months? Automating the services schedule allows for the ability to correlate project data and present it in one central place where multiple divisions or departments can collaborate on planning.
Think about it this way: Would you rather tear up a road once for a week and make all the necessary repairs, or tackle repairs indefinitely and cause major traffic disruptions several times throughout the year?
The bottom line is taking the time to clean up processes and establish clear lines of communication across departments will save you tremendous amounts of time and money when it comes to workflow automation.