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Everyday MBA: Why Go On A Process Automation Journey?


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[00:00] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Welcome to the digital transformation podcast interviews with best selling authors, innovative thought leaders, and top shelf executives all driving today's digital success. This is the show that will help you take advantage of digital transformation to build your business and career. I'm your host, Kevin Craine, and I'm so pleased that you're listening. Our guest today is Olivia Bushe. Olivia is the CEO of FlowForma an innovative provider of process automation and no code solutions for organisations in all industry, Olivia and her teams help organisations remove paper processes and empower their business users and citizen developers to automate business process with increased speed and agility no matter the complexity. We are here talking about process automation, automation, why it's important, how to maximise the benefits and how no code fits in as a strategic enabler to digital transformation and process improvement. So Olivia, welcome to the show. You talk about the need for every organisation to go on a process automation journey. What do you mean by that? Why should I go on a process automation journey?

[01:19] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Companies should look at it because of the return on investment that it gives them. I think they don't possibly, there's that saying that you don't know what you don't know, and I think a lot of companies don't realise the savings and the benefits until they go on that journey, but they took a process and they looked at the total cost of ownership, and they realised how beneficial and cost saving it would be to replace those manual paper processes with something automated. We have very few customers who use the system and then go backwards, like no one goes backwards soon. Have you ever heard of anyone automate and then then go back to paper process that just doesn't happen? Because people suddenly realise all the benefits, the cost savings, the time savings, the competitive advantage, the opportunity to move faster in a competitive world and be more agile. And you know, allows companies to change at the pace that you need to change to remain competitive in today's marketplace.

[02:30] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Interesting. You mentioned several things that are components of that return on investment. And certainly I'm expecting things like reduction in staff needs or things like that, that saved I guess what you would call hard dollars. But you're also talking about competitive advantage. And things that may or may not be necessarily on my in my first thoughts in terms of ROI, what are the biggest opportunities and with process automation, in terms of how it will give my organisation a competitive advantage.

[03:03] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): So it's probably different for each organisation, but a couple of examples which spring to mind. So we're currently talking to an insurance leasing company, and really in their word, speed is the important thing. So it's such a competitive environment, that the speed of the decision of which you approve the lease is really what matters to them. So people tend to just go because it's an even playing field in so many ways. The person who gets the business is usually the person who can respond quickest. So they're looking FlowForma in terms of helping them with speed, and that gives them a distinct competitive advantage. That's the main driver for them. We're also talking to a large car manufacturer. And at the moment when anything goes wrong with all the car dealerships around the world, and it's pushed back to the main headquarters of who makes the cars. And they have 25 people involved in that process, that design process of fixing those faults and making them better. So they could employ FlowForma for a year and that would be one full time employee cost for them and they have 25 of them. So there's huge savings there for them by automating the process that currently takes 25 people that would only need to be saved on one of those people. And that would pay for FlowForma and that would be the cost savings would outline the other savings such as visibility then having your process and when it's automated as opposed to manual, the fact that remote working is easier and we all need that now with COVID you know remote workings here to stay - and the fact that they can go so much faster. So, you know, there's never just one benefit, there's always multiple, because it has a domino effect across the business.

[05:16] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Today, every employee counts in a way they didn't perhaps before the pandemic, I mean, every employee now counts. And so it makes sense to me to remove the burden of some processes that just are using humans as almost machines, and in a sense anyway, and then apply the staff that I do have, whether they're on site, or are certainly in a remote environment, to activities that really add more value. Are there specific examples that you might point to, to how Process Automation really makes the most of remote work today?

[05:53] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Yeah, well, you know, just the fact that if you rely on being in the office and passing a folder from person to person, that doesn't work anymore. But also, I think that a digital process adds structure to people's day and work. And I think with people working from home, they need that. And then some people have adopted to remote work and easier than others. But most of us need some sort of structure and process automation gives you that structure, because it tells you when tasks need to be done at a certain time, it's drawing everyone into the loop that's involved in the process. And you know, tasks are automated from one person to the next. So you get a structure to people's day that I think is needed in remote working, and helps us all stay connected. And then I think the other thing is the visibility. So you know, everyone can see the work that you're doing, and they can see what's being done. And that's very important when people are remote to still have that visibility, because you can't talk to someone over the desk or walk up to them. But then when everything's digitised, you get complete visibility into your processes. So you get to see what stage the processes are at and who it's sitting with at any point in time. So I think those things really help with remote working.

[07:23] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Okay, so if I am an organisation, and I am looking to move forward more with process automation, what are there specific technologies or capabilities that you believe are a must have?

[07:36] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Yes, I think that the world we live in today has a shortage of IT developers. And I think that's going to continue. But at the same time, organisations want to be more agile, they want to move faster, so to enable those things, we're going to have to empower the business user, the person who knows the processes best. And the only way to do that, I think, is to look at low code or no code tools. And that's what's going to give us the pace, you know, the ability to move at the pace that we need to in today's competitive environment. So I think, I don't think we're going to be able to get away from that I think we have to look at no code and low code tools and empowering people outside of the IT department to solve problems, and take that dependency away from IT, because, you know, it's getting harder and harder, and I'm sure many of your listeners have experienced that it's getting harder and harder to find good IT people. I know here in Dublin, you know there's a real shortage of them, it's not easy to go out and hire IT developer. So I think we have to look at alternatives to that to start with and low code and no code tools gives us that alternative as a starting point. So I think that's probably a must have, specifically for ourselves, you know, we're a Microsoft Gold partner. So we would, you know, be saying office 365 is a great investment and you know what's a reliable well known and secure architecture and that you should invest in that to begin with, and make sure you've got a good infrastructure in place. It's quick and easy to use. So I think ease of use, ease of adoption is very important in any tools going forward. You know, ease of use across the organisation, and adoption of a tool across an organisation is something that you really need to consider. And then obviously you need to look at the training and the support provided around any technology or tools that you implement.

[10:01] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA):  Our guest today is Olivia Bush, CEO of FlowForma, a provider of process automation and no code solutions for organisations in all industries. And we indeed are here talking about process automation. Olivia, you were talking about no code. And as you were, as you were talking, there were several things that sort of struck me - first was was the idea of using a no code solution. And then the importance of ease of use, and training. And all three of those things sort of wrap up together, in what I'm sensing is is sort of a new paradigm, when it comes to application development, do you feel that that is really the wave of the future as we move into 2022? and beyond?

[11:08] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Yes, I would think that's the beginning of the wave of the future, I would imagine that it's up there. You know, I think data analysis tools, RPA all of that will keep progressing. And I think all of those tools used together will be what companies realise they need, they need a selection of those tools, not just one or two. And the key, I think, is that those tools all have to integrate and work together. That's where most processes such as FlowForma, you know, we integrate on a daily basis, that's always part of the solution, because process fans across the organisation, so it needs to be able to integrate with different tools. That's really just a normal requirement for us. So I think that, yeah, that's going to be the future, empowering business users with out relying on IT. We find that it almost starts a snowball effect. So when someone starts off with a no code tool, and they implement it across one process, and they quickly see the benefits, and the time savings and all those good things we talked about Kevin. They realise they can become more agile, then it really starts a snowball effect where they start thinking, right, 'where else can I apply this across the organisation'. So once you start small, and you roll out like and you can clearly see, you know, we would advise you pick a process where you can clearly see the return on investment and has good impact across the organisation, then we find it quickly grows across the organisation. So I think once once you start small and implement something like this, you then start to realise the benefits across the organisation. So I think, you know, it kind of is a self fulfilling prophecy in some ways. And once you start to roll it out, you'll just want to roll it out more. So I think that is the future. And I think tools like RPA tools and the DPA tool must work together. And, you know, there's different sweet spots and different jobs for each of those.

[13:24] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): And what an enabling approach to change agents and innovators in organisations that perhaps have felt stymied in the past, do you feel that no code is one way that change agents, as I like to call them and organisations can get the buy in and support they need to really make change happen?

[13:42] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Yes, I think no code's one way, but my advice to people would be to make sure you get a champion within the business at a senior level to help you push it forward. You know, we see a lot of frustrated end users that want to use these tools, love the likes of FlowForma and other tools, but can't get the buy in from above. So I think, you know, you need to be very conscious of building the business case from early on. And part of that process of, of building the business cases is getting buy in from a champion or sponsor or the C level. If it's a strategic initiative for the business, it's going to be much easier for you to roll that out. So I think start small, get a buy in from a C level sponsor and measure the results and then you should be able to go from there, Kevin.

[14:38] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA):  We are speaking with Olivia Bush from FlowForma You can find Olivia and find out more at flowforma.com Olivia, can you give us an example of one organisation or a use case perhaps that was successful using this approach? What did they do? What were the results? And how can we do it too?

[15:04] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): There's so many examples, Kevin, I'd have to think about a specific one. But I think what we see time and time, again, is exactly what I said, you know, the organisations who are successful have tools like yourselves - they aren't afraid of change, so they aren't afraid of embracing change, you know, changing your processes, there is a fear sometimes, because it is a different way of working. So the organisations that are successful will be the ones who pick one process, don't let themselves get overwhelmed, there might be 120 processes, they know they can apply the tools to. But we would advise you just get started. So pick one process, you know, don't be fearing the change, embrace that, you need to have a desire for change within the organisation, and roll that out and then the results will speak for themselves. I mean, I can't think of a single time where the customer has rolled out and went live with a process and had not seen benefits. It's usually if they delayed the going live, that the benefits aren't seen as quickly because their different reasons: they feel they're not ready, or they don't have a champion and the organisation pushing that forward. So, I mean, those would be the things I would be saying to do to get started. And if you go to our website, there's lots and lots of use cases across different industries. So find a similar use case, I think that would be really useful to bring on to an organisation as well. And Often I'm asked for that, and we're asked for that,'can you give me to help someone get that buy in? Can you give me an example of a similar industry use case, and I can take that, I'll be able to show how I can apply that. So I would look for that, as well. And then, you know, there's also most companies have a free trial or free proof of concept. So you can set that up and prove the value before you purchase. So, you know, you're removing the risk to everyone in the organisation, and you're minimising the risk as part of the sales process. And that should help you and again, get buy in from above.

[17:26] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Last time, you were with me, we talked about winning the war on paper, have we succeeded?

[17:33] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): I think we have a long way to go still. I think we're making progress. But it amazes me every day when I hear the amount of organisations that still use paper processes, government organisations. And the other thing is I think it's a lot of companies feel that they've digitised if their using email, and Excel spreadsheets and that's not really what we're about Kevin, we're about automating the process, so that your inbox or your Excel spreadsheets don't become the one source of the truth. Instead, it's the FlowForma tool and the process as its's automated. So emailing things to each other and relying on someone to do that, that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about automating your processes right through the business to get a faster return on everything. So I think you know, digitising everything and moving from email and word. That's the start of it, but it's a very small part of the improvement available. It's only a fraction of what you can do. So yes, you need to do that as part of digitising your processes. But you shouldn't stop there. You need to look at the next step of automating these things across the business. And a lot of companies I think make the mistake of just in that little tiny fraction at the beginning and thinking they're done.

[19:04] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): Olivia, it's been great speaking with you today. We're almost out of time. But before I let you go one last question: What should CIOs, executives business owners all of us really be thinking about now and strategizing for in order to be prepared for the world in five years time?

[19:22] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma):   I think now, never mind five years time, we have to be thinking about how we can enable businesses to move faster and be more agile without them depending on IT people and IT developers because I just don't think we're gonna have the resources to move fast enough. So we need to really focus on how we utilise all of our business people and enable them to help us digitise and automate and go faster and be more agile because I think the world's just getting more and more competitive. So, those are the things we have to do. It's all about speed and agility going forward and become a more agile organisation.

[20:10] Kevin Craine (Everyday MBA): That is Olivia Bush from FlowForma Find her and find out more at flowforma.com Olivia, thank you so much for being my guest today.

[20:21] Olivia Bushe (FlowForma): Thank you for having me.




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