Chapter 4: How to Get Your Team to Embrace Business Process Automation
Process Changes Need Everyone on Board
There are many stakeholders to consider when implementing a business-process improvement for the first time. After all, process updates at one level will ripple out to affect the whole, making a team-by-team embrace of process automation an intuitive yet essential step for overall progress.
This notion to “loop in the team” is logical — and, indeed, something to initiate as early as possible. That’s because the sharpest, most high-functioning offices cannot see their individual departments as separate operations but as part of a tight-knit whole. The sooner business process automation carries holistic buy-in, the sooner you can strengthen those departments, streamline them and make them more strategic.
How to Pitch a Process Change to Your Boss
Process-automation approval from your direct supervisor achieves two goals. It not only displays your initiative and dedication to making the business the best it can be, but it also begins securing the leadership necessary to make the enhancement smooth and systematic. There are a few framing strategies to help get you there.
1. Frame It to Serve Them
The more you can speak about alleviating specific pain points, the more you make change appealing. People rarely champion business initiatives solely for the sake of others. They’re much more likely to jump on board when an idea solves their problems and makes their lives easier too.
Your manager is likely no exception. Use this knowledge to better pitch the process change to them.
2. Prepare Ahead of Time
The more composed, poised and put together your pitch, the more likely it is to stick.
Prepare a brief but informative slide deck that includes the “why” behind your automated improvement. Place this up-front in your slide deck introduction, then circle back to it in your conclusion. Most importantly, highlight what pain points process automation will solve for your team and your manager alike, bolstered by stats and quantitative data that you’ll be tracking to prove its solution.
3. Opt for One-on-One Conversations
Grandiose ideation in the middle of a department meeting might seem satisfying, but it’s a surefire way to have your ideas get lost.
Instead, set up a one-on-one meeting with your manager to exclusively discuss business-process improvements and their researched technological pairings. This highlights the importance of your ideas, gives them space to breathe and grounds them in a focused spotlight — not to mention signals how seriously you’re taking this initiative. It also allows for easier discussion on the nature of the process change and how it can get underway.
4. Be Specific
Avoid discussing the broad need for automation — that comes off as a complaint. Instead, pitch two or three specific products or tools you would be interested in implementing, be they new software, a new shipping and delivery notification system, a new PII protection program or something else entirely.
5. Don’t Take Hesitation Personally
Expect hesitation. Your manager has numerous things on their plate already. You may need to schedule a follow-up meeting returning to your two or three specific process and product pitches, assess their cost structures and ideate their reasonable implementation timelines.
How to Get Your Team on Board
Make a concerted effort to loop in your team or those who report to you even before you sit down with the supervisors. Not only does this help you strengthen process ideas and cover more concrete pain points, but it emphasizes the collaboration so imperative to see business process solutions stick.
1. Get Their Insights
The number one way to include employees on fresh ideas is to, well, include them. Employees who feel valued beyond the routine jobs they perform are much more likely to stay engaged, produce higher-quality work and report stronger levels of happiness and commitment to their place of employment. Ensure your team’s insights and opinions have been accounted for before any significant change takes place.
2. Highlight Personal Relevance
Just as you framed your pitch to solve your manager’s pain points, identify and communicate the specific ways you believe new technology or equipment can solve your team’s pain points. The more candid you can be with them, the better.
3. Be Direct
If implementing an automated program or process improvement will take new training, say so. If it involves redefined responsibilities in the workflow, highlight them. If individuals will need to start using different technology, mention it. Up-front transparency translates into long-term adoption no matter what industry you’re in.
How to Sell C-Level on Business Processes
When both your direct team and your direct manager are “sold” on the importance of automated business processes, it’s time for you to move onto the final process pitch — bringing in C-level executives.
Knowing how to sell C-level leadership will vary depending on the size, organizational structure and culture of your business. Some may have a more relaxed system in place that makes meeting and reviewing items with executives easier, while others may need to curate specific, formal hours to get this step going.
Either way, there are a few strategies to bear in mind when approaching corporate-level leadership and executives about implementing a major process improvement.
1. Build a Coalition
Ideas are more compelling when they have positive momentum already behind them. Armed with the information and buy-in from your own team and supervisors, you can reinforce the narrative that this initiative is primed and ready for execution — not just another abstract idea without plans, people or data-backed decisions.
2. Be Concise
Don’t be intimidated if you’re only given a small segment of time to pitch the overall business improvement. You can use brevity as a tool to show how much you’ve chiseled away at these business solutions, and you already have what you need to make a compelling pitch.
Create a summary slide or a handful of slides with key, data-driven points to review with C-level individuals. Begin your presentation with this data-driven overview, then use the rest of your time as an appendix on benefits for the business’ bottom line. Frame presentation expectations right away, and always leave room for questions and discussion at the end.
3. Create Value Alignment
Clearly illustrate how business process automation aligns with the overall strategic direction of the organization, as well as its mission and values. This is where most leaders at the executive level function, dedicating their time and expertise to strategic advancement. Speak directly to company momentum, and you’ll get the final buy-in necessary for complete organizational implementation.