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Keep your WFH mojo: digital process automation guide

By Jon Wellman

I’ve written before about the huge, wholesale changes some organisations – mostly large ones – have had to make to survive through COVID-19 restrictions and quarantines. But flying under the radar are all those smaller, but very necessary, digital process changes being made by almost all businesses.

To us, these are the ones to really get excited about. Let’s get into this new wave of digital process automation in more detail.

With social distancing forcing teams to go remote, everyday activities like daily standups, WIP meetings or even HR complaints have been forced online. There’s a little bit of ‘round peg, square hole’ going on as you try and make everything work via Zoom, but you’re probably finding one or more of these processes actually work better remotely. (For example, being able to record and share your online meetings, as opposed to your previous in-person ones.)

If so, you’ll want to keep those digital business processes even when you’re all together in the office. 

How to make sure your new digital process sticks

There are three things to keep in mind when bringing in new digital processes:

  • Communication 
  • Education
  • Scalability

I’ll run through the process using a generic example, starting with how you should communicate the change to your team.

Communication

You have two main pieces of communication to think about: how you’ll actually explain the changes, and how you’ll announce them.

A video screen recording with audio is the best way to explain the working of the new processes, but failing that creating a short training manual as a PDF can work well. Once you’ve created this, it should be stored somewhere that everyone in the team knows about and has easy access to. Then, follow the regular process for announcing something new – whether it’s email, slack or your company message board. 

Try to make every piece of communication helpful in its own way, because you never know what people will end up keeping. Down the track, they might search for the email or slack message you originally sent looking for instructions.

Be clear with your wording and explain the change in simple terms. Elaborate on the ‘why?’ as it helps people feel ‘on board’ with the change rather than it just being an annoyance or another change for the sake of it.

Here’s a sample email you might send to your team.

Subject: New digital process: [Name of process]

Hi team,

From today we’re streamlining the way we [old process] by making it digital.

We’re moving across this project because we think it’ll save you time and headaches when [task]. The new way removes things like [time-consuming action] and replaces it with an easy-to-use digital interface. 

To run through the changes, and get your input on the new process, I’ll be running an online demo video [date & time]. I’ll be recording this session, so anyone unable to attend can catch up later.

I’ve created a [page/folder] on our internal system where you’ll always be able to find the latest information and documentation on [name of process]. You can find it here.

We want as much of your input on this change as possible – so please let me know your thoughts on this and anything other processes you think we should look at streamlining. 

See you on the call.
[Your name]

Education

This is the key stage for making sure your ideas stick and you get the time-saving results you’re after.

It’s important to first show people how to do things, and then get them to do it while you watch and assist. An online video demo is a great way to do this. Get the team on a call together, walk them through the changes and have an open Q&A. Record the whole thing and share it around after (most online video systems support audio/video recording).

When you’re thinking about how to present the information, put yourself in your team’s shoes. Imagine you were designing a course for people to complete – you’d want to come up with a curriculum that starts with introductory concepts and progressively walks them through to the harder stuff.

Break the concept and the process up into smaller chunks so people can focus on one thing at a time. For example, one video session might only cover a particular part of the system – the rest can be shown another day.

Scalability

For a process to be scalable, everyone in your team – and everyone you hire in future – needs to be able to get their head around the process without you explaining it in person.

That means you need to record and catalogue the training sessions and materials you use to bring your team up to speed, and re-use those for all future needs. Luckily there are plenty of tools at your disposal. 

Remember my point earlier about making everything helpful and reusable? This is how you do it. 

Record your video training demos and host them all in one place, in an easy-to-digest order. Go one step further by having the videos transcribed (there are many websites that do this really cheaply) and write a post with your notes and the videos embedded. This can be private (just for your team) or you can even turn it into a bit of audience-facing content. 

Digital process automation that sticks

We’re used to guiding businesses through digital transformation, and navigating the growing pains that sometimes go along with it. The ones we see 

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Written by

Jon Wellman on 11 June 2020

I'm a director at Vokke Software in Melbourne. We build custom web software for companies to help them digitalise their organisations, achieve their strategic goals, and disrupt their industries. I'm passionate about working with smart people on interesting problems, particularly in technology and business.