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A Beginner’s Guide Digitizing and Automating Processes Step by Step

DevOps teams and business process owners have enough on their plate, from delivering value for customers today to anticipating their needs for tomorrow. The last thing they need to deal with is redundant tasks and inefficient workflows slowing them down.

This is where business automation processes come into play — helping to identify and configure processes and workflows that can advance your team’s work and set your organization apart while delivering value to customers.

Core operational processes should be digitized and automated, so information, responsibility, and work are passed on to the right people at the right time. This keeps things running smoothly, even without human interference. By automating complex business processes, your organization can:

  • Achieve digital transformation
  • Boost service quality for customers
  • Improve value delivery
  • Maximize efficiency within internal teams

In summary, implementing automation step by step with regular performance testing helps to optimize your business workflows and enables teams to focus on what matters.

A Beginner’s Guide to Implementing Automation Processes

Automation step by step: person creating a flow chart

Now let’s get into the guide to automation step by step. How can your organization implement automation processes? How do you go about automation testing, identifying critical needs, writing automation scripts, and accruing all of the benefits listed above? 

1. Identify a Use Case or Reason to Automate a Process

Once you start looking for processes to automate, you soon find that they are fundamental to driving your business forward. You can automate everything from new client intake and claim forms to employee onboarding and leave tracking, inspections, audit reports, and much more.

The best place to begin is to conduct a workflow analysis and identify processes that could benefit from workflow automation. You can start by asking questions like:

  • What are the critical tasks in the workflow process? Which are the support functions?
  • How long does it take to complete each task? Are your teams able to manage them efficiently?
  • Is the workflow process recurring? Does it require consistency across teams and departments?
  • Does the process consistently get hamstrung or have human errors?
  • Does the process require regular software testing? Do you have capable testers to do the job?
  • Do process owners and testers need more transparency and visibility into each others' work?

These are some fundamental questions to set you on the path to identifying and prioritizing which workflows and processes need automation. 

Note those that are notorious for running into bottlenecks and those that are unique to your organization’s workflows to set you apart from your competitors.

2. Document and Map Your Current Process

Next, document the workflow or process as it is. Include all systems, inputs, outputs, internal and external stakeholders, decision points, and potential paths the process can take. Also, note where there are issues around communication, documentation, visibility, and turnaround time.

Also, test your software tools and systems, including mobile and web applications and web services, to ensure they can support new workflows. Would the old work with the new? Or do you need to adopt upgraded tools to optimize and automate your processes?

Ensure your old and new systems allow compatible data types and file formats to ensure smooth continuity of work between teams and external collaborators.

3. Identify a Process Automation Tool That Meets Your Needs

As business process owners who live and breathe workflows, choosing a no-code process automation platform gives your team the ability to visually create, update, modify, and run processes on their own. 

A solution such as Pulpstream comes with a built-in component library, native integration capabilities, and plugins to expand functionalities even further. It even offers the ability to store signatures, attachments, documents, and more in the cloud, keeping everything related to a task, workflow, or process in one place.

Make API testing a priority at this stage to ensure your old and new tools can indeed work well together. API testing ensures your tools' functionalities, performance, security, and ability to integrate with other tools and systems. An easy example anyone can understand is the non-compatibility of iOS and Android devices. A third-party API integration tool (after testing) would help enable interactions between the two operating systems.

4. Create the Process in the Automation Tool

Now the exciting part. Bring together key players involved in the process and collaboratively design the new and improved process to reflect how it should be running in an ideal scenario. 

Use automated and preconfigured steps, logic-driven gates, attachment fields, automated reports, and built-in notifications to keep the process streamlined and consistently moving forward.

5. Align Roles and Responsibilities to the Necessary Tasks

Next, assign tasks and process owners to each key part of your process. With a solution such as Pulpstream, you can even create automated notifications and alerts to signal these task owners to take action. Pulpstream's app can also be used on any mobile device or even offline, so work can be done where and when your task owners are on the job. 

You may need to create a test automation framework to support automated testing of your workflows and processes. Using a tool like Pulpstream would enable you to run scripts in the background, ensuring everything continues working correctly and freeing up employees' time to work on other important tasks.

6. Integrate the New Process With Existing Enterprise Solutions

Person adjusting a knob

Your business processes will naturally use and feed data to and from other systems. Using a solution with native integrations or APIs allows your team to create file transfers, handle data POST/GETS, or even trigger emails, reports, or other actions in your native technology ecosystem without any complicated programming or development.

Before integrating new processes with your existing ones, enforce automation testing using automated testing tools for each new test case. For simple workflows, you may employ manual testing performed by those who carefully execute the testing process to detect and debug any issues.

Create a team-wide testing tutorial for employees to know what to do when using these systems for the first time. For mobile applications, you would need mobile testing software. You can easily find many good open-source solutions online. For web applications, a thorough test case may require checking new solutions on all the popular web browsers, e.g., Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, to ensure they work optimally on any platform.

7. Implement the New Process

Now it's time to see the benefits of your hard work. Document the new process and communicate it to your internal and external stakeholders so they know how work can be completed, tracked, and stored.

Make the process as simple as possible, using familiar interfaces, such as drop-down menus and conventional icons, so that non-technical users and teams can navigate easily to complete their work.

8. Iterate and Continue to Improve

As with your customer's needs and expectations, you would need to evaluate and iterate your processes regularly. This is why a no-code platform, which allows you to create multiple versions of your processes, modify without coding in complicated IDEs, and roll your new design into production environments in one click, is essential.

Choosing a platform that allows you to manage changes to currently published forms and processes without requiring you to create a new version of the process gives your team the ability to remain agile and execute quickly.

Use Pulpstream to Improve Process Automation Step by Step

No matter the scale, scope, or location of your business, business processes and systematic workflows are what make your business thrive. Fortunately, you can apply automation to help your team up their productivity, reduce costs, improve compliance, and even increase customer satisfaction.

When every aspect of your business relies on the successful execution of processes, prioritizing and implementing digital transformation and automation processes is a no-brainer. Are you ready to take your organization’s efficiency to the next level? Contact the team at Pulpstream and get a free demo to see the benefits you can get firsthand.