Sheldon Cooper, the fictional character in the television series The Big Bang Theory, is a genius with very little emotional intelligence. Business process automation may be perceived as taking some steps into Sheldon’s logic-driven world, where the selection of the tools (hardware and software) alone would be the key to success. However, in the real world, the success of your business process automation project is totally dependent on the people involved in the project.
The key people are your staff and your provider’s staff. Their ability to work together as a team, using an approach that they both feel comfortable with, will be critical to a successful implementation. So bearing this in mind, the selection of your provider must focus as much on their people as their tools.
You also have to put in some groundwork yourself. For the project to be a success your staff will need to buy into the fundamental changes that you are making to the way they work. Effective communication, in advance, about the changes that will be made, is the best way to reduce the uncertainty which feeds fear and doubt and results in greater resistance to change. Your staff are likely to still feel uncomfortable with change and inevitably there will be some pain during the change process, but they are more likely to be your allies if they understand why you are making this change and how the new automated business processes will improve the quality of their working lives.
Your provider’s staff should not only be able to supply you and your staff with technical expertise related to the new tools, but also some help and guidance with change management.
For small and medium-sized businesses it is critical that you meet the people responsible for delivering the project before you commit to the purchase. Whilst a large provider may suggest that they have a standard approach so there is no need to meet the implementation team, there is no substitute for meeting the individuals who will actually deliver the project. With a smaller provider, it may well be that the delivery team is the same set of people that are selling you the tools, but you must be sure that they have all the necessary skills and experience to deliver the complete project. The ideal provider for small and medium-sized businesses has some separation between sales and service delivery, is able to introduce the delivery team in advance of the sale and is able to demonstrate that they will be able to apply sufficient focus to the change process.
The likelihood of success is significantly enhanced where there is an internal project champion and staff have not been kept in the dark about the changes that will soon be foisted upon them. So your provider should be advising you of the importance of making sure that your staff are ready and prepared for change before forcing the new tool upon them. We all have at least a little resistance to change in us, but are often oblivious to the effect of change on others. If you are not at least slightly challenged at the selection stage it’s likely that you are just being told what you want to hear rather than what you need to know.