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Podcast: 2023 Process Automation Predictions Uncovered


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[00:00] Conor McGrath: Hi everyone, Conor McGrath here from FlowForma. I'd like to welcome you all to today's webinar, which is 2023 Process Automation Predictions Uncovered. I hope you're all very well today. So each year, we'd like to host these prediction webinars, just to give our followers sort of an insight into what to expect in terms of process automation and digitization every year, and, and even though we're still in January 2023, already, we're seeing pressure on organizations to quickly adapt to the current economic uncertainty and the ongoing skill shortages. Organizations want to know how to reduce costs, innovate and ensure resilience to the latest automation strategies and tools. And that ultimately will help gain a competitive advantage against peers by doing so. Okay, so today, I am delighted to be joined by two of my colleagues here. So Olivia Bushe, Chief Executive Officer, and Paul Stone, Product Strategist here FlowForma. Thanks very much for joining me, guys.

[00:41] Olivia Bushe: Thanks for having us.

[01:04] Conor McGrath: Okay, so firstly, I think I would like to share this quote from Forrester Research. And I think it's a nice place to start. And it's all about the process of innovation and how it works best when it occurs across the entire business. And when business people are the ones that are suggesting the process improvement and innovation. And I might go to you first on this. Olivia. I'm sure what Forrester said yours all too familiar to you.

[01:29] Olivia Bushe: Yeah, thanks, Conor. Yes, I totally agree with this concept. Indeed, research shows that 80% of organizations actually expect non-specialized employees to work on process optimization or automation in their area. So when you accept a job today, and you're expected to contribute, make your area of expertise better and more efficient. So that's just expected and everyone's job role today. And FlowForma, is a tool that has actually been built from inception to make this concept a reality. FlowForma makes creative innovation a part of everyday work. So it's a flexible, agile tool that can evolve and change with you and the business. Regardless of the sector, we hear the same from all our customers that our intuitive toolset encourages innovation and creativity, empowering people to make improvements in critical areas of the business. And we have many use cases that support this. And I know Paul's gonna share some of those.

[02:39] Paul Stone: Yeah, absolutely. And certainly Forrester language, they say digital transformation, which occurs a very agile way, then by employees in the business domain, employees need more than just productivity tools to achieve this. Emails and spreadsheets, they only go so far. And at the end of the day, you need stronger process to help drive transformation programs across the business and take full advantage of digital technologies. Those tools must be designed for business people to use, because business people at the end of the day are going to push change across the business and they need to be able to push change at their own pace, not restricted by, for example, IT controls for them to actually grow change, not just within themselves within the department, but across the business at their own pace.

[03:26] Conor McGrath: Okay, so today, we have a few poll questions in our webinar today. And the first one here, or asking is what is the primary driver of process optimization, automation in your organization got sort of a landslide here, I'd say and 68% are looking to improve productivity and 90% of reducing costs. So I don't think that's sort of out of line with what we've just briefly discussed already, and I know we'll be covering off a couple of areas around this in our webinar today. So that's really interesting to get your input today. And so from here, I suppose we'll move into our first prediction, which I think is very fitting off the back of that. And, it's that digital business transformation is still the primary driver of process optimization or automated automation initiatives for organizations. And I'm sure Olivia, you've just seen the poll results who had there as well, but this is, this is no surprise, I guess really.

[04:32] Olivia Bushe: Yeah, Conor, it's not but you know, it does seem like we've been talking about digital business transformation for a long time. Now, I've been with FlowForma from 2016 to that's at least seven years, we've been talking about it. And I know it's been a hot topic for much longer than that. But amazingly, research shows that 31% of organizations still have many or most of their processes rolling with dependencies on paper. So there's still a lot of paper out there. There's still a lot of automation and transformation to be done. Forrester recently did a survey on DPA, and their conclusion was that they're still a mountain to climb regarding automation, and the top driver is actually accelerating digital transformation. That's the top driver for people to automate it. However, I feel that, given the economic uncertainty that we are in, that that will influence the transformation projects selected, so I feel that people will focus on the core business drivers resilience and efficiency. And I know we're going to talk about that more later. But I think cost reduction will play an important part. So while it's not one of the key drivers, it will be a desired result of automation projects. Some other statistics to share with you 62% report that many are most processes depend on electronic manual routing with tools like spreadsheets, and email. So there are a lot of people who think that you know what their job is done when they digitize from paper to spreadsheets and email. But that's not the case, unfortunately, to bring your processes online and for automation, and there's a lot more work to do. And there are huge challenges involved in bringing these processes online. And that requires different approaches to automation. And this is part of the attraction of more accessible, faster forms of automation, such as low code or no code development tools like FlowForma. And, Paul, I know that you firmly believe that transformation must occur and an agile way.

[06:46] Paul Stone: Yes, absolutely. In the current climate businesses, they must respond to change in our environment and maintain a competitive edge. And that requires agility, being able to quickly change the way you work, adapt your resources, and so on to be competitive, always. And one thing that digital process implementation allows you to do is monitor your performance, monitor the way you work, and adapt where you work to ensure that you're always making most use of your resources, best use resources to maintain that competitive edge.

[07:21] Conor McGrath: Yeah. And I think even just what we've, what you've discussed there ties in as well, with the poll, we just ran earlier about product process, optimization aligning with critical business methodologies, which is a key element here today, Olivia, I guess.

[07:37] Olivia Bushe: Yeah, this actually aligns with our poll as well, I think we're improving customer experience was the second thing picked. So there's no great surprises here. You know, there's a whopping 77% of respondents cited accelerating in digital business transformation, or improving on their customer experience as the primary drivers for process optimization programs, which is actually an increase of about 20%, on when Forrester did the survey last year. So that's interesting in itself there's much more majority in those two areas. So organizations are prioritizing process optimization and automation, really to drive their key business objectives. And that's why you need to have an adaptable strategy. And that will be critical to success. So, again, this points to the flexibility needed from no code tools that you get for citizen developers or business users. And as I said, I do believe that with the current economic climate, cost reduction will become more important again and it will actually be the most desired outcome of digital transformation. So the uncertain times that we live in, and basically the uncertain economy will shift 10% of the automation budgets from transformation to resilience. So people don't want to be caught out and they want to be resilient, no matter what happens with the economy. So executives will focus on solving known issues and risks, you know, so for example, will redirect the funds from something like machine learning-based decision support for loan approvals to more to focus more on risk and resilient efforts that your supply chain gaps or they'll invest in physical automation to ensure business continuity to offset labor shortages. So they'll target the easy projects first, that result in cost savings and the need for less staff so we're looking at obvious big wins from. Forrester would say that the efforts will pay off for those with the metal to just to 2023 realities way doubling down on automation. So the people that can do it, they will reap an overwhelming competitive advantage. Would you agree with that, Paul?

[09:58] Paul Stone: Yeah, absolutely. There's a direct link between more efficient, predictable operations and better customer service, like an example would be one of our construction customers. They found as a result of widespread automation, customer complaints, or have really significant result that was unexpected, their initial focus was on cost control and production. But they found out that actually, customer service was significantly impacted a very positive way. I think since the pandemic customer expectations are increasing across all verticals like another customer implemented digital process to manage the onboarding of off boarding of human and machine resources, and noted of notices significant uplift in customer satisfaction surveys, after they had automated those processes. A common use case along with customers across many verticals is change management, digital process allow changes to be requested electronically or processed through standardized series of steps are all necessary data and documentation is captured at the right time. So you don't have to loop through processes where errors are being generated, you can actually trap those errors, and get the right information at the right time. And that, again, really has a positive impact on customer satisfaction, which ultimately greatly improves your competitive edge in the market.

[11:16] Olivia Bushe: It makes sense.

[11:17] Conor McGrath: I think, I think here Paul is just sort of doubling down on those on those key points for motivators for automation this year.

[11:27] Paul Stone: Absolutely. Like I think looking at the 2023, there'll be a tough decision to be made between being protective and being adventurous. But is it better to hold on to your chips or bet on the long shot? Of course, the answer is both, like you need to do what you do today better tomorrow. And also experiment with new ways of working to grab every opportunity that you can get and maximize your potential as a business. And so you first need to concentrate on maximizing alignment between your operations and the company's mission. That mission then is aligned with your objectives. And you can focus your resources on achieving those objectives through achieving business goals. Business goals are achieved using standardized pastures, those all linked together. And at the basis, you have your standardized processes, which if you have made using a digital technology, it can be used to control costs. So why is that, because once you digitize your processes, you can actually measure them, you can measure them and see if they're performing against your targets. And then it just an improvement through continuous improvement. And ultimately, that will lead to cost gains. So on one side, you have that improved customer experience, on the other side, through better use of your resources, you're actually maximizing productivity and managing those costs. Well, we talk a little bit about those in some later examples as we go through your parameter.

[12:48] Conor McGrath: Definitely. And I think that sort of leads in nicely to our second prediction here today about the current economic climate. I mean, I think it's in the news every day. So it's very topical. And there's a shift from transformation projects to ensure business continuity in resilience, I think that was harbors back into what your saying there Paul. But again, Olivia, I can't imagine, you know, just at the minute that this is something that's not going to go away anytime soon, Olivia.

[13:12] Olivia Bushe

No. So this is what we're talking about in terms of, you know, where will the focus be for organizations, so, no one can predict the next challenge or opportunity that businesses will face. We've had Brexit for those of us in the UK we've had a Pandemic, we've had war. So organizations need to prepare for whatever the next big disrupter to businesses will be. We all need to be resilient and utilize processes that can be easily adjusted in line with changes to your business environment. So there definitely will be a trend in 2023, in my opinion, for organizations to focus on digitizing particularly around agility, resilience and efficiency. And this is how we see we think that many organizations will prioritize the processes for automation. So you know, they'll focus on their core business drivers of resilience, and efficiency. And I know, Paul, that we have many customers that have great use cases, and they've resulted in resilience and efficiency outcomes.

[14:22] Paul Stone: I think one of the first things you need to do is try and if you'd like get better control over your operations, through implementing processes. And once you've done that, it comes down to the fact that you can actually measure the performance improvement, so you can see clearly what savings you've made. So one of our examples here would be Tideway East, a major construction project UK, where they were able to measure the actual savings that we're making by executing digital processes, again, that control and they saved over 900 hours in terms of man hours.

[15:01] Olivia Bushe: Was that call 900 hours?

[15:04] Paul Stone: Yeah, over a year in terms and once those processes had been implemented, and were able to quickly and easily measure that improvement, and because the process was digitized, so all of the data associated with those processes is being saved, you can see how long things are taking, you can see where the bottlenecks are occurring, even improve things over time. And measure that saving. If you look at one of our other examples, Abingdon and Whitney College in the UK. And they were able to measure that they could save two and a half people two and a half full-time enters by digitizing postures, they digitize several processes in the finance department. So one of the great advantages, just to recap, is that process improvement. So you buy implementation processes, you're gathering data, and that data is allowing you to analyze how efficiently operations are winning those efficiencies can be directly measured, so that you can see clearly, how much saving you're making.

[16:02] Conor McGrath: I guess, Olivia, I'd say, you know, we've just discussed there. But that shift towards being resilient and sort of reiterating the fact here again, with these other points?

[16:13] Olivia Bushe: Yeah, I think you can see here that TOUCH (TOUCH Community Services) had already digitized a key processes when COVID hit. They find that, you know, they were very glad that they've done so because all their staff were forced to work from home. Already been digitized enabled that to happen much more quickly. So I think the key point here is that organizations need to digitize for outcomes, not just for the sake of digitizing for efficiency. So yes efficiency is important. But you need to have key outcomes in mind such as cost reduction, etc. Is that Yes, that you that you want to achieve from your automation. And I know I think Downer, Paul in New Zealand as always is a good example here.

[17:03] Paul Stone: Yeah, Downer responded very well to very strict COVID measures in New Zealand and New Zealand government imposed lots of restrictions in terms of people visiting worksite standards, Downer is a construction company, and Downer were able to quickly implement forms, processes, and controls to ensure that everybody was being compliant with the requirements of the COVID regulations in New Zealand that allowed them to carry on their business and complete the construction projects. During that pandemic period. Many of our other customers, as Olivia mentioned, Touch, and but many other customers as well, have found that having digitized pastors really allowed them to continue operations, and be resilient through that difficult pandemic period.

[17:52] Conor McGrath: Great, and I think that sort of moves on into our third prediction as well about C-level being the primary driver of all action strategy, but most of the development we will be carried out by business people. I guess Olivia, again, this is not all unknown to us. The business people are the ones who know processes best really?

[18:12] Olivia Bushe: Yeah, they are. But we've definitely seen in the last 18 months Conor, we've seen a significant change in the level of inquiries we're dealing with. So 90% of the time, why we are engaging with C-levels. So it's a C-level, so the driver behind it, and it's often the CEO, or the MD and they're the people driving them what are the benefits that an automation to like FlowForma can bring to their business. So this is definitely a change, you know, in that these initiatives are now being driven from the top and not a mid-level manager, which is what we were saying, you know, maybe three years ago would have been more mid-level manager have a specific need for department but we've definitely seen a change and that's it's at a strategic level. Why automation is being driven, which creates you know that it's not a strategic initiative for many companies. I buy digital transformation starts with top-line leadership, it's important to remember that success depends on buy-in from champions across the business. So you're not going to be successful unless you have those champions across the business because as we said, there'll be people that are carrying like the development worker would like the processes. That's why FlowForma is a great tool for enterprise-wide transformation. People in business units that use the processes are willing enablers of change because it makes their jobs easier. Say the C suite manages the beneficiaries as the organization takes significant steps on its digital transformation journey. So it's still important we need both people to be bought in for it to successfully roll out automate your processes. Paul is that what you're seeing as well?

[20:05] Paul Stone: We find that in the past, if we go back, say, three, four years, you would have things being run at a departmental level for departmental managers with the reason for change, and would implement process automation, if you like at a departmental level. But now for sure, it's definitely seen more of as a strategic thing. And we see a lot more interest from coming from directly from C-level resources. And then we're also seeing the ability to implement change from the C-level down. So all the way down from C-level to the ground, people at the grassroots, are able to implement that change and monitor how that change has been implemented.

[20:48] Olivia Bushe: Top-down digitization!

[20:51] Conor McGrath: Yeah, I guess from an IT point of view, Paul, I mean, resources are getting, you know, scarce and supply. And, you know, it is expensive to outsource. You know, there's there's issues there too, I guess.

[21:04] Paul Stone: Yeah, certainly. So it's all well and good C-level deciding that this is a strategic initiative to change. But that change has to be implemented. And in the past, very often, that change required IT resources to actually deploy solutions that were to digitize those processes. The problem is that if you're doing it at scale, if it's if it is top down, you're doing a scale, and you will not have enough IT resources to digitize across the entire organization, it works fine if you're just talking about a limited domain, a single department is the one. But if you're digitizing a scale, you need a lot of IT resources. And unfortunately, they are in very scarce supply, they're also very expensive. And so this is a real inhibitor for wide-scale change. And the solution there is to use business people. So tools are available like FlowForma now that allow business people to actually put that change in place, implemented as marvelous. And really, that's a way of actually making the change happen. The trick then, is to get buy in at all levels to make sure everybody is aligned, and everybody is following the mission.

[22:11] Conor McGrath: Definitely, and I just want to briefly just talk about our toool just to give everyone an idea as to how FlowForma Process Automation actually works, I guess, really?

[22:20] Paul Stone: Yeah, a very brief introduction to FlowForma itself, and basically it is a three-in-one tool. So the tool combines workflow, which is the execution of processes through a series of steps to achieve business goals, also the generation of documents and communications around that workflow, and the inclusion of forms to capture data. So that data is all-important in terms of providing real insight into the actual activity of the business. It's not good enough to know what tasks have been executed by people, you also want to have some idea of the communications documents and the data associated with all that. So FlowForma combines all these things together, and what that means as well as that when it comes to building solutions for business people to build solutions, it's a very intuitive way of working, because you're thinking about all of these things. When you think about the business process in your head. You're thinking about all of these three things together at the same time. So it makes sense to configure them all together as well.

[23:17] Conor McGrath: So there's a very helicopter view of FlowForma! And I think that kind of moves us on as well to our forth prediction today about the skilled labor shortage at the moment. That's something that's you know, it's widely reported on at the minute. It's a significant challenge across all industries, I think, and Process Automation technologies that replace paper-based tasks are here to stay. And that's not something that is new. We've discussed it briefly earlier, Olivia as well.

[23:44] Olivia Bushe: Yeah, I think the big issue in 2023, Conor will be the lack of needed skills. I think whatever way you look out, the world is facing a worker shortage. You know, there's lots of research around this at the moment. There's a study that includes a sweep and country-by-country analysis on the study finds that by 2030, there'll be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people. So that's roughly equivalent to the population of Germany. So it's gonna become a very big problem. And, and other research shows that a quarter of enterprises will blame skill shortages on slowing down their automation progress. So we really think that 2023 We'll see slower progress and rolling out new automation support because first, the digital transformation is hard. You know, there's the normal change management challenges, issues which slow down progress. These are going to include a shortage of trained analysts, project managers for automation projects, different analyst data and research shows that a third of enterprise data and analytics decision-makers involved in automation projects state that the lack of technical skills and experience among technical staff is the biggest challenge of adopting automation technologists within the organization. So, you know, there's always scale challenges. Some people might argue, but 2023, I think will be unusually difficult in that area. Paul, what's your thoughts on that one?

[25:34] Paul Stone: Yeah, I think, you know, organizations like they must look to digitalization to make workers more productive, and take away their admin and let them concentrate on more value adding tasks,basically, the tasks that they need to do to achieve their business goals. And happy employees are empowered with the best tools do their jobs better, and it can be key to actually retaining staff in the future as well. And one of our customers Sullivan Engineering, recently told us that they're able to take on twice the amount of deliverables since deploying FlowForma. So it's really a case of, you know, maximizing your resources to deliver the most that they possibly can. And certainly, digitization is a way of doing that using a digital process.

[26:32] Conor McGrath: Absolutely, yeah, and I know, we've just touched on the labor side of things. But there's, there's an IT skill shortage there too, Paul, isn't there?

[26:39] Paul Stone: Yeah, definitely. So IT skills are really in short demand. And it's actually gotten worse, I think, through the pandemic, across all different sectors. So the solution to that, really, is to use no code tools, and no code tools is a broad name for tools that simply don't require any specific IT skills or specific IT and IT mindset to actually build solutions, working IT systems that deliver benefits and business. So if you've been using no code skills, you're not going to have to have the ability, you're gonna have to spend two years learning how to code solutions, you can actually spend a few weeks learning how to, you know, build a no code solution. So at the end of the day, building those solutions gives people a feeling of ownership because they built them themselves. And it helps promote the changes or your organization as well. And that change can be a very positive change for workers. And they can really see this, as you know, helping to increase the value within the business page. So it's easier to hire and retain skilled staff because they have got that increased sense of ownership over their operations.

[28:06] Conor McGrath:  I think we've got another poll here that we're just gonna pull up. And we're asking here who is currently responsible for bringing processes online within your business? I think this is just in line of  the previous protections. So we're very interested to get the audience introspection perspective, I should say on that - internal IT, an external party, the workforce itself, or if there's another one there. But you know, it's always interesting to get different perspectives on this. Why don't we just share those results here on screen very briefly. So 44% saying that's been driven by internal at 26% from the workforce, I don't think that's anything too unusual there. But it's great to gather insight from the audience here today.

[28:48] Olivia Bushe: I think there Conor, it shows that there's still work to be done. So IT still really own this. But if we're going to digitize at scale, we need to broaden that out to the workforce. So it's starting to happen, you can say there, but a lot of really still sets with it. So we definitely need change there.

[29:09] Conor McGrath: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that's actually a really nice segue, I'd say on to our next prediction for 2023, as most firms currently have or plan to have a citizen developer strategy in the next 12 months. I know Paul, this is an area of expertise for yourself, and you've seen quite a number of prospects coming to FlowForma with the sort of these plans in place, I guess, really?

[29:38] Paul Stone: Yeah, absolutely. So you do need to plan for this. It's not a case of like just giving the tool a person and the finance department and away they go. You do need to plan ahead for this. So it's interesting, that poll we just had showed that was the majority of IT. But you know what? The people that we speak to very often they'll start off by digitizing it and then they'll gradually roll it out to the workforce to take over, and IT, then they just become guardians become administrators for the people who take care of the infrastructure for the actual processes are digitized by people in the workforce. So at the end of the day, if you were speaking to Forrester, for example, they would say that process optimization has become everyone's job, it shouldn't just reside in inside IT, it shouldn't become every single person's job to do this. And we're aware that using digital tools, like FlowForma is a great way to make that happen, to empower people in the business to actually digitize, take over that role, and take some of that work away from it. And I think my own experience of speaking to it the power system, most IT departments are more than happy, more than happy to let it go, as long as they can put controls in place to safeguard the production environments. And they're very happy to let business people take over and build out their own solutions.

[31:02] Conor McGrath: Yeah, definitely. I think it'd be useful here today, I suppose for the audience, I suppose how to create a citizen developer strategy, I guess, really is something that might be useful for everyone. On the webinar today.

[31:17] Paul Stone: Absolutely, it's very much a cultural thing. So you're basically trying to sell the whole idea of citizen development to your organization. So it's not the case of the vendor, like ourselves simply selling you a tool, it's a case of you selling the whole concept of culture within your organization. So what we typically do for that is you need to find champions, people who are prepared to stand up and, and sell the concept into the business. And very often these are the first adopters of a tool inside our organization. They lead by example, they build out something to show people. And then they train people to help themselves. So they encourage people to actually to build out solution themselves and take a process-first approach. And what does that mean? Well, very much if you're speaking to an IT department, their first concern is oh, how do we integrate system x, y, and z. And it makes a lot of sense. The integrator finances, for example, of course, that makes sense. But actually, when you look at the detail of the deployment of processes in your organization, the integration is less important to end results. So if you take a process, first approach, focus on our business people know and understand, you actually get significant measurable results very, very quickly. And then you can always integrate with back-end systems later on if you want to. The other thing is that as you're deploying those processes, you need to listen to your workforce, to drive adoption. So at the end of the day, those digital processes are only good and only valuable if they're adopted by the business. So you have to listen to people listening to what they say, when you deploy a process, listen to the feedback, and adjust that process to make sure that it actually works on the ground with the people carrying out the process. Another thing we say is target the obvious. So basically, what you're wanting to do is, is bring about a culture of changes at the organization. So you have to show success, the thing to do is target an obvious pain point, do it in the process to solve it, so that everybody can see clearly that actually this is the benefit. And the only thing that will help that is by showing return on investment showing the actual value returned, by digitizing the process, the great thing about digital processes is you can measure that value very easily. Like we said earlier on in the webinar, that it's easy to actually see that change. And what we'd always give as a tip to people is to actually include external parties in your processes. So with a tool like FlowForma, that's very easy to do. And what we found is that in terms of return on investment and value generated, if you actually include external parties in your process, you will significantly increase that value. So when you're selecting processes to digitize, always take that into consideration, because it can generate really significant benefits. And it might be worth quickly mentioning case study that we have from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine as to how they actually went about digitizing processes. So if I say to begin with that, the challenges that they face have they had very limited internal resources. And outsourcing was expensive. It wasn't really a luxury for them. So they had a lot of scenarios that they wanted to digitize to basically transform, but they just didn't have the resources to be able to do that. They were using paper forms most of the time and of course, they're very inefficient and make compliance a challenge, especially as we're dealing with an external party and insurance company. It was difficult to actually make those customers more efficient than they already were, without using a tool. But what they wanted was a self-service tool where they could do things themselves, whatever happened to learn new IT skills without having to use an expensive external party. And what they did was they selected FlowForma to do this, they trained eight users. And to date, they've digitized over 120 processes inside their organization. In fact, they've been able to make the entire finance department paperless. As they did this, they collected feedback along the way, they modify those passes to make sure the working environment they were successful. This was really critical to building that momentum that you need to build for change, to adopt this citizen developer approach to improving your efficiency. But they successfully did that. And they brought about a culture of continuous process improvement where everybody feels a sense of ownership of those processes. And they are keen to make those most efficient as possible, continuously treat them as resources, changing organizational structures and business demands change. So one of the big successes with LSTM was they got off the ground very quickly. And so with no code tools that allow for the learning time is very low. So you don't have to invest the time upfront before we are seeing results. The fact they digitized over 65 of those workflows in the first 14 months of building out also adopting FlowForma. So it's really the way to get off the ground really quickly. And that is one of the key things I would say in terms of them invoking a successful culture of change is that you need to get early results, get those results quickly.

[36:51] Conor McGrath: Yeah, that's been a brilliant result from from LSTM.

[36:57] Olivia Bushe: Yeah, can I just ask as you know, your standard 65 workflows or processes in 14 months, is that really just very, very simple processes?

[37:10] Paul Stone: No. So there's processes really vary a lot in terms of the complexity. So sure, some of those are simple processes. But still, some are very complex. Like I could give one quick example of their travel approval process. In this particular case, travel approvals are very difficult because it involves the use of specialists, experts in tropical diseases that are sent off remote places. And when they send to those remote places, they have to be evacuated occasionally. And all that needs to be set up in advance, they also have to have to be fully insured, etc. Because a very complex trouble approval process in place. And indeed, this was one of the very first processes that LSTM decided to tackle and it resulted there was a great success.

[37:59] Olivia Bushe: Okay, that's really interesting, because I think sometimes the perception is low code, or no code changes can only handle simple processes. But in this case, they're simple to complex right across the board.

[38:12] Paul Stone: Oh, absolutely. And with strong local tools like FlowForma, they are able to handle independent processes as well. So where there's multiple parties involved in multiple processes with dependencies, but parallel paths with many complex branches that are well within the capabilities of these tools.

[38:33] Conor McGrath: Staggering success with LSTM and want to work that they're doing there, it's great. And I think it actually feeds nicely into the final prediction for 2023 around governance. So obviously, there have to be sort of safeguards in place around these projects. But so prediction six is governance structures to scale citizen development are vital when it comes to no code tools. I think you touched on this earlier Paul, I think this is quite important, I think in the grand scheme of automation projects.

[39:05] Paul Stone: We see this as being of critical importance, especially if you want to digitize a scale, which is where you get the highest return on investment. Speak to IT departments, it need reassurance when they're passing on the reigns, if you'd like to those business developers that when they do so there's not going to have an adverse impact on the business. And so what FlowForma have done is they've actually put in place a governance system that allows IT to have master control over the business developers who are innovating in their sandboxes and building out solutions that are solving real-world problems. They're doing so in a controlled environment in a controlled manner, repetitive manner, but repetitive in a positive way. For every business process that you digitize. It actually looks quite similar from a configuration point of view and also from an end-user point of view from the people who actually use the process and That's very deliberate. And with governance that allows IT people, and also if the business requires non-IT people to be the maintainers, and governors of the process, building, and deployment within your organization, so that they can actually control and set guidelines for people, and ensure that they minimize the risk of passing on responsibility of building solutions to business developers. And one great way of tackling this is to build a center of excellence, where we have a set of expert resources in terms of process management, you can define standards that are then deployed across the business, for the business people can carry, those can build up the processes using a set of guidelines. In 2023, a number of these theories will migrate functions and staff the primary business line they support. For example, finance and accounting functions, such as pipeline management, business case management, design tests, because demands will move closer to lines of business, consuming the automation. The general roles of people that are involved in the governance and deployment of citizen development operations. So we'll see at the top is we typically have a technology person acting as the governor who is basically setting the standards and setting the templates and so on, for the implementation of business postures, we then have an executive sponsor, who's supporting the change, and supporting the business developer to actually implement those processes, and the business development and implementation using those standards, and applies them out into the organization and acts as a champion within the organization pushing the change through. There's lots of other potential actors in place as well, like a change manager, or a GRC is handling and regulation. But these are optional. The key people there are the governor, the executive sponsor, and the business expert. So at the end of the day, implementation of governance, we see is really key to the wide-scale deployment of business process automation. Without governance, you tend to be limited to departmental-based solutions that do have a positive impact, but nowhere near the level of impact that a true enterprise-wide change problem would have.

[42:36] Conor McGrath: I think then, Olivia be interesting to get sort of a recap, really. And to just get your, I suppose recommendations for digitalization in 2023.

[42:49] Olivia Bushe: Conor, I've covered a lot today, I'm definitely gonna be asking people to submit questions, there a lot of different topics covered there. And but I think, you know, just this is just summarizing some of our recommendations for successful process digitization. So we would suggest that you eliminate all your manual processes at speed. So, you know, this is not as your paper processes, definitely, we shouldn't be having paper processes anymore, but it's also looking at your processes are hidden in Excel spreadsheets, large Excel spreadsheets, or in your Outlook, we want to automate those processes as well to give greater transparency into where they're at, you know, where the blockages are the resources required. And it's very hard to get data, while they're lying in Excel or Outlook. So we want to digitize and automate those processes. Use a process-first approach, and Paul talked about that earlier. So don't get caught up in the integrations, think about the processes and you know, what you can automate quickly and easily. And then I think we'd say that you should promote inward-looking innovation, we talked a little bit about that around automating your business processes, and, you know, promoting creativity and innovation throughout the organization. And, and FlowForma is a perfect tool for that. And that will enable you to improve your processes. So you know, get them rolled out. And then tools like FlowForma are created so that you can improve processes as you go. So there are agile and flexible. So getting them rolled, like get feedback to them and then tweak and improve them as you go. And really it should be continuous improvement. The other thing we've talked about is to encourage business-lead digitization as the norm. So not just IT lead anymore, it's business lead, people that know their processes best to really to digitize at scale they're gonna have to go with that way because we don't have the skills, or availability and IT to really cover all of that and to digitize at speed. And I think the other thing, and I don't know if we touched on it briefly and Paul, you might want to say more on this is that we would recommend, I think you did have it as one of your top tips that you would recommend that we involve external stakeholders in your internal processes.

[45:29] Paul Stone: Yeah, absolutely, we've seen them every time people do this, they actually see a significant bump in the value added by the process to the organization, a significant improvement in terms of reduced time and has a processing things like queries, processing orders, etc. But also very often those external stakeholders, our clients, and we do tend to see that that significant bump in the client, customer experience, when they're, they're being involved in those.

[46:06] Olivia Bushe: And so the last thing, of course, we would recommend is that, you know, take a trial of whatever tool like most of the tools out there they're offering you a trial, we offer you a trial with FlowForma. So download the trial, and you can download it on the App Store. And you can request a trial from our website. So take a trial, build your processes, and we will be available to help you do that, you know, you can build your proof of concept, or your proof of value, we can guide you through that to help you get internal buy-in but take a trial, you've got nothing to lose and find out how fast you can automate your processes.

[46:43] Conor McGrath: Thanks, guys. Yeah, we should have some time for some questions and answers. As Olivia mentioned, seeing is believing I guess, really, isn't it? So taking a trial of a process automation solution is probably a good way of dipping their toe in the water, I would suggest. Okay. And yeah, we might just step into some questions, because there's been plenty that have come in your in our session. So the first question I see here is what is possible with a no code to like FlowForma? Maybe, Paul, you might be able to take that one first, if possible, please. 

[47:16] Paul Stone: Yeah, sure, people often confuse no code with being something that's only designed for very simple solutions. What I'd say is have a look at FlowForma and see just what you can do. We have clients, large clients who are using FlowForma very complex processes with multiple dependencies. So for example, off the top my head, we have people using processes that have 30 levels of approval, we have people using processes that require maybe up to 300 different questions to be answered across the entire process. So really, you can build solutions that are very complex using no code. It's a question of, you know, the code formats, its a little bit like building Lego Bricks, building software, Lego bricks, you can use to lay the bricks and you can use 100, Lego bricks, it really doesn't matter and at the end of the day, you can create something really quite special.

[48:08] Conor McGrath: We have a very good blog on that on our website all around Lego implementation. So it's a very good analogy. And there's another question in here as well. And that's asking, how soon could I see a time to value from implementing FlowForma? Is that something maybe, Paul, you'd like to take?

[48:30] Paul Stone: Yeah, sure. I mean, our typical time to value is in under six weeks, we actually have quite uniquely in the marketplace, we have an onboarding program, we call it SureStart, that gets you up and running as quickly as possible and gives you a deliverable that you can measure in a very short space of time. So we're looking at six to eight weeks that we would see as being quite typical to get a process built live and returning an investment that can be measured.

[48:58] Conor McGrath: Yeah. Super. I've another question here. Olivia, let me pose this one to you sort of an age-old question. How do I get internal by an interesting to get your thoughts on that?

[49:09] Olivia Bushe: Yeah, I mean, as we discussed, it's better to get C-level involvement and a C-level sponsor or definitely makes for a more successful project. We do offer a proof of value workshop, which is very useful for getting internal buy-in. And so we will work with you to show the savings that you're making, whether those are cost savings or time savings or improved productivity, and we do a workshop with yourself so that we can give you some idea of the savings, the return of the value that you'll get with us and FlowForma. So that would be something that we would do and I think that usually gets to the buy-in when people can see the clear advantages and benefits of a tool like FlowForma.

[50:06] Conor McGrath: Brilliant. Might squeeze in another couple of questions - there's a really nice question here, Paul, asking how do you see AI impacting Process Design in 2023 a really topical trending topic right now.

[50:22] Paul Stone: That's very topical at the moment. I think everybody has been going on and trying to chat GPT and seeing what answers chat GPT is returning. And I think you know, what, AI is definitely coming to process design. It's a case of even with chat GPT right now, you asked, Well, tell me, tell me about a process that covers order to pay which order to pay, and it will actually respond to you. And it will give you seven typical steps that would be in that particular process, which is very clever. The only problem with that is that it's not aligned to your specific business, your specific scenario, it's not telling you how that process works with your specific resources. So I think in terms of what AI will be doing in the in terms of process designed in 2023. Well, I can see it giving you pointers, and I can see AI being introduced to products like FlowForma to actually give you template examples or possible solutions. And then you can work to actually tailor those solution to your specific needs and specific requirements. After '23, who knows it's moving very fast. It's very interesting to see all the activity in that area right now.

[51:38] Conor McGrath: Brilliant. Thanks for that. We might squeeze one more quick one in. There's a question here asking Olivia. How important is process expertise? Do we need a process expert?

[51:49] Olivia Bushe: I think the answer to that question is you do need a process expert. But you'd get that and working with a tool like FlowForma and the FlowForma team. So we are the process experts. So you know, we can guide you on the best way to roll like your processes. I mean, our SureStart onboarding program does exactly that. We take you through each major milestone until your first process is live. So you know that process expertise is important. You should ensure you get that with whatever vendor that you pick, you know, what I would also say is, if you have a manual process, automate that, and then refine it as you go. So get started and refine it, with a tool that needs to be able to be flexible. And, you know, enable you to refine the process as you go. So those are the things that you need to consider when you're looking at the different tools like there, Conor.

[52:52] Conor McGrath: Super. Okay, I see time as against us now. So I think that's all we have time for, unfortunately, quickly before we go. And I'd like to thank firstly, Olivia, and Paul for your wonderful insights. Thank you very much. Definitely very, very interesting. And before we wrap up, I would like to let you know that you can download our infographic from our website, on why it's vital to advance your process automation plan and how to try it out. So it's very, very on trend here and topic for today's discussion. And in fact, we've mentioned it already, but why not go on and try it for yourself and try for 14 days you can access your trial at flowforma.com/trial but otherwise, that's all for today. Folks, I really appreciate you joining us for this webinar today. I hope you have a great rest of your day wherever you may be. Thank you very much to Olivia and Paul once more. Thanks, everyone!



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