5 Simple Ways to Get Your Team On Board with Automation

BrandPost By Smartsheet
Jan 19, 2018
IT Leadership

Start your automation efforts at the individual or team level, then expand outwards and upwards to benefit your entire company.

You’ve assembled a team of creative thinkers and problem-solvers — but you have them spending hours each week manually compiling reports and processing routine approvals, on top of the work you really want them to produce. Automating repetitive processes can free up their work day for more valuable tasks and also boost morale, improve the bottom line, and foster a culture of innovation. But if your workers are busy now, how can you persuade them to put in even more time and effort to adopt an entirely new automated work process?

The short answer: You don’t. Instead of tackling a complex work process automation project, look for a solution that empowers business users to automate their own processes with easy-to-use tools. Here are five ways to start building work process automation from the individual or team level and expand it outwards to improve your entire business.

  1. Ask your workers what they’re tired of doing. The first step in any automation process is deciding what to automate. Start with the tasks that nobody likes (even the most satisfied, committed employees hate something on their to-do lists). Repetitive tasks such as compiling a weekly status report or requesting approvals for ordinary purchases are important, but they can also be boring. When you automate the most mundane or disliked tasks, you free up time and attention for more creative work that can help advance your business. Look for the teams with the largest number of repetitive tasks, or the highest level of annoyance — always a strong motivator for change.
  2. Start with the tools you already have. From work-management tools to messaging tools to personalized alerts, chances are your teams are already familiar with some of the building blocks for automation. Your more forward-thinking groups may even have independently found their own tools, either for  specific projects or to improve their own team processes. Not only will these users  know how to get the best results from what they’re using, they will serve as great ambassadors and seasoned experts when it’s time to roll out new processes to the rest of the organization.
  3. Look for tools that will work for everyone, not just a few. Every team is different, so make sure your automation tools address the common work challenges that everyone faces, rather than only working for a select few or less-often-used processes. Empower your business users with automation tools and rules that anyone can implement, without a single line of code, complex formulas, or help from IT.
  4. Step away from the inbox. As you automate tasks, resist the urge to push all communications — such as action alerts or completion notifications — out via email. Automation tools such as Smartsheet offer automated alerts and update requests that prompt team members to update status from within the app and using mobile push notifications. Centralized work-management tools let the entire  team see when tasks are completed, without generating lengthy email threads. Updates and alerts can be delivered to the specific people who’ve claimed a task, instead of blanketing a team email alias with messages that aren’t relevant to most members. Keeping inboxes free of requests and notifications can help employees prioritize and respond to the emails  that really matter.
  5. Put mobile devices front and center. As you evaluate your automation solutions, keep mobile top of mind. Look for tools that connect information seamlessly and securely across devices and platforms, and that offer optimized interfaces for smaller screens so workers can check project status and approve requests from anywhere, on any device.

Any automation initiative should help employees do their work more efficiently and free them up for creative thinking and higher-value tasks. By starting small with a user-friendly, highly-flexible platform, you’ll not only automate your business but engage your workforce along the way — which offers the best chance of success for your overall effort.

Read more about user-friendly work process automation.