Intelligent process automation (IPA) best practices

Intelligent process automation accelerates digital transformation, and your organization needs to start, STAT. Here's how to launch your IPA project.

The world is catching on to the power of intelligent process automation (IPA). With most growth-focused organizations already on the road to digital transformation, IPA is like an express lane for furthering those efforts.

What is intelligent process automation (IPA)?
IPA includes a collection of technology tools that revolutionizes organizational processes and enables users to:

  • Speed their work
  • Decrease manual error
  • Simplify interactions

It “takes the robot out of the human,” according to McKinsey, and “mimics activities carried out by humans, and, over time, learns to do them even better.”

A recent IDC report1 predicts intelligent process automation is primed to expand, with the market expected to grow 20% by 2025. Particular elements, such as capture software, low-code intelligent automation platforms, robotic process automation (RPA), process mining, machine learning automation and task mining are especially ready to make business-focused contributions. Learn more about intelligent automation examples in this recent post.

To accelerate productivity, efficiency and growth, future-forward organizations are seeking:

  • Straight-through processing: The ability for incoming sales orders, claims submissions and payment requests to be routed quickly, accurately and without much human effort.
  • Vertical-focused solutions that meet the needs of specific markets.
  • Speed to ROI: From low cost of ownership to the rapidity with which solutions can be conceived, built and deployed, ROI is a critical aspect of IPA success.
  • Enterprise-wide hyperautomation enables organizations to strategically automate as many processes enterprise-wide as rapidly as possible to improve productivity by ease-of-use, scalability and agility.

With IPA adoption ready to take off, the race is on for organizations to adopt it the right way — and before their competitors.

Keep reading to discover the three IPA best practices for you to focus on:

  1. Identify the best-fit intelligence process automation tools
  2. Decrease employee workload
  3. Realize intelligent process automation value, STAT

#1. Identify the best-fit intelligent process automation tools

Choosing the best solution is a study in the warning, less is more.

While intelligent process automation is leaning into artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, it’s important to adopt the best fit for your intelligence process automation project. Different IPA tools offer different strengths and use cases.

Intelligent capture, a fairly simple tool, facilitates powerful transformation in back-office endeavors such as claims and invoice processing and loan servicing. A more intelligent tool like AI, deployed for intelligent document processing, is better unleashed to interpret documents, identify patterns and to automate activities that would otherwise have been automated manually.

Recognize blind spots when it comes to bleeding-edge technology

AI is a buzzword and an idealized concept in our culture (think the metaverse and The Matrix), but it’s rarely suited to be the sole focus of an intelligent process automation project.

How to achieve: Get to know the many intelligent automation tools available. What fits best — is it RPA? A simple low-code workflow tool? Capture? A great question to ask: What can solve this specific problem, with the least amount of investment but highest amount of payoff?

Eliminate technology-first tunnel vision

Not valuing the human intelligence in your organization is a first step in the wrong direction. Any automation project must start with collecting data from the people you depend on.

How to achieve: Talk to the people you depend on (employees, customers, partners, suppliers) and compile the full story of what they need, want and have ideas about.

See your existing processes for what they are

Most managers and leaders know how a process should work, but the reality is, most frontline workers make their own process improvements, with company approvals or not. Browser extensions, free software downloads, routine phone calls to another department — all these workarounds need to be documented as part of the process.

How to achieve: Use process mining to uncover the reality of your existing processes.

#2. Decrease employee workload

Organizations must eliminate low-value tasks in their business processes, so their employees can deliver meaningful outcomes through high-touch, high-value work.

Identify the cost of tasks

Employees want to be contributors to your organization in a way that makes them feel they are a part of the success you attain, but if their job is filled with low-value, repetitive tasks, they aren’t likely to be content. To launch an intelligent process automation overhaul, you have to know what high-cost, low-return tasks are on the table.

How to achieve: Evaluate the cost, or waste, of tasks using the formula “$/volume*time,” and visualize what’s creating drag on your processes. Ask hard questions like:

  • How much does it cost?
  • How many times does an employee do it?
  • What are we paying to have it done?
  • How often does it happen?

This will help prioritize what tasks have the highest ROI potential for positive change.

Tailor the solutions to line-of-business users who use them

User involvement is key to success, and while collecting the data on the front end is a best practice, even better is leveraging intelligent process automation software that allows for technical configuration and customization input from employees beyond the IT team.

How to achieve: Get your  tool in the hands of nondevelopers. Low-code platforms, which simplify configuration using point-and-click and drag-and-drop building tools, make it easier to give everyone — especially non-IT specialists — a seat at the table.

#3. Realize intelligent process automation value, STAT

Organizations must implement smart process automation solutions quickly in order to realize value. Long, drawn-out implementations are a drain on productivity, ROI and team morale, not to mention the excitement of eliminating dreary tasks.

However, obstacles in these next-gen investments often impede forward progress, including:

  • Too few team members with the high technical skills needed
  • Complexity of the solution being implemented
  • Integration friction (for example, if you adopt a capture solution along with RPA, do they work together to solve the problem?)
  • Multiple interfaces among solution environments

Organizations must prepare for every facet of their new solution in order to get it off the ground and soaring, immediately — and it often starts with people, not tech.

Embrace the psychology of change management

Change is hard, and most humans feel angst at the thought. Our world has experienced seismic shifts in the way we live and work, and adding to the change your teams are processing increases their cognitive load and uncertainty of the future. Lead with empathy and all-in preparedness.

How to achieve: In this Inc.com article, industrial/organizational psychologist Justin M. Deonarine notes the four facets of leading effective change communication:

  1. The Macro: What is it about the global situation that explains why the change must be made? Give the big picture, why the change is necessary, and include the overall plan.
  2. The Micro: What’s not working, and how do the proposed changes resolve that? Home in on what specifically is broken, and how the changes will respond to that issue.
  3. Hearts: What are the values driving the change? Clarify how the needs of employees will be addressed, and invite discussion about nuances that may have been overlooked.
  4. Minds: What is the logic behind the change? Describe the alternatives you considered, outline the pros and cons, and invite critique of the approach.

Vet your partners, and train your end users

Proven intelligent process automation companies will provide you with the confidence you need to move your solution forward, including use cases, testimonials, references and demos. Once the deal is signed, expect next-level customer service that takes care of you and anyone else leveraging your new solution.

How to achieve: Choose a provider that takes training seriously, as an end-to-end process. On-demand training, easily accessible documentation and incremental training, as well as seamless integrations among products, ease the transition and empower users.

Conclusion

As organizations adopt intelligent process automation into their everyday routine, they’ll want to assure they’re getting every ounce of productivity out of it they can. While the technology must be up to standards, so, too, must the pre-solution data collection, change management and ongoing servicing of the solution and the people who work with it.

Hyland, a leading provider of content services with native intelligent automation solutions embedded in our platforms, has helped power the digital transformations of thousands of organizations around the world.

Learn more about what we can do, so you can do more. Learn more about intelligent automation at Hyland.


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1IDC, Worldwide Intelligent Process Automation Software Forecast, 2021-2025, #US48015622, July 2021

Ken Payne is Hyland’s Product Manager for Automation. Ken leverages his more than 20 years of industry experience to drive Hyland’s product vision and strategy, helping customers meet their automation and digital transformation goals.
Ken Payne

Ken Payne

Ken Payne is Hyland’s Product Manager for Automation. Ken leverages his more than 20 years of industry experience to drive Hyland’s product vision and strategy, helping customers meet their automation... read more about: Ken Payne