When our data manager, Jo-Anne Bailes, first looked into the Power Platform a few years ago – we could see the potential but it seemed too steep a learning curve and investment of our time.
How can we push our details and peculiarities into a platform and get it to solve our business processes? And how many new things do we have to learn before we can even start using it right?
We’re glad she convinced us though.
Zoom forward and our bespoke Power Apps have automated our onboarding, timesheets, service desk, client satisfaction scores, invoicing… the list keeps growing. More importantly, now we’ve got back at least seven days’ work a month across our operations team. Time freed up from processes to spend instead on helping clients and growing our business.
Getting new joiners sorted
Onboarding was an obvious choice for us to improve with automation. The process involves more than two business areas, has a significant numbers of standard data entry needs, and benefits from effective sequencing. For example, when we know what projects someone will be working on, we can add them to the right Microsoft Teams channel.
With Power BI, we suddenly had accurate data sharing and control and business flows that sped up the process. These flows meant that stages followed logically and cleanly as earlier steps in the process were completed – and instead of manually chasing and checking information, our Power Platform highlights any gaps in data. And when it comes to data compliance, Power BI makes the management of sharing, reviewing and deleting confidential information much simpler.
Our planning has improved hugely with using Power Platform automation and now ordering new hardware, setting up training and induction for training new joiners flows quickly and easily. Indeed it gives us exactly the sort of consistent, widely understood approach we advocate to our clients to create effective collaboration and information sharing.
Power Platform solutions
Automation still needs work at the start. It has to begin with a mental process – looking inward and seeing what you do now, and then what you want to do in the best-case scenario. This ambitious view, alongside an understanding of what your people and your organisation needs, will give you the objectives for your automation.
And now you need to find the creative ways of putting it into place.
Figuring out how to use the Power Platform in your organisation flows much like an evolutionary achievement. The way you work now is only because there was a certain process that fit you best when your processes started. And you carried on adapting your environment to those processes.
Actually, every small manual task that’s been added has complicated the process and heaped more work on your people.
To put it simply – and with reference to natural selection – you want processes that give you an advantage and that are most likely to be successful. If it doesn’t do this, then you leave it behind.
We want to automate processes because doing repetitive tasks the same way, each time doesn’t stretch us properly. And more than this – the platforms bring in accuracy and reduce human error. They’re powerful tools that give you better, reliable data and systems for all sorts of tasks.
Eric Brynjolfsson, Director of Stanford Institute of Human-Centered AI says, “As we automate a lot of the repetitive work, we are going to see increased demand for creative skills.” Automation picks up repetitive tasks and allows humans to do two things that they do best:
These two processes are the rewarding aspects of our jobs and what makes each of us different.
Why it matters
Your onboarding process is the first taste people have of your organisation and how they feel like their work will matter. After investing so much time and money into recruiting the right candidate, it’s important to get their onboarding right. And in a way that’s consistent and fair for everyone.
You need a process flow
You need to understand how your people work and the processes you’ve already got in place. Once you have this, you can see where automation can work for you, be inspired, and create your new, automated set up.
Process flows allow you to see which parts can remain manual, and which can easily be automated.
There are several steps you can automate that appear in every onboarding process. Such as, setting up a new account, what information is sent out in the welcome email, and what is delivered at induction.
And although you can’t automate the interview stage – and while we would never want to – we’re trialling our new recruitment process which will connect the stages from requesting a new recruit through to advertising the role and the application form and then review and notifying candidates. Ultimately, connecting with our automated onboarding process.
It delivers for us
Our automated onboarding process has made a difference. Giving us what we need, all at the right time.
Automation makes it an easier process for everyone.
Also, make sure you check out one of our new people, Natasha Bradley, who joined us at the start of the year and vlogged about her remote onboarding experience.
This article is based on Samantha Kinstrey’s LinkedIn article of 28 January 2021. You’re welcome to comment on her article and to share your own experience and insight.