How do I get started with automation and Microsoft 365?

Automation can be a tricky thing to master. You know it makes sense for your business, and you’re eager to get started on implementing automation and workflow measures right away. However, now you’re thinking about it…you’re wondering; “where do I start?”

We’re experts in all things workflow and automation for Microsoft 365. With apps such as Power BI, Power Automate and Power Apps at your disposal, there is almost no limit to what you could automate within your organisation. It’s important however, to consider some key factors before embarking down the road of RPA.

(When we start a project with a client, we usually start with a proof of concept first – especially if it’s a large complex process. Proof that it works – then roll out to other areas.)

Don’t automate everything

Automation cannot — and should not — do everything. Trying to automate everything can not only be costly but can add unnecessary complications to boot. Resources get wasted on unneeded processes – therefore you need a judicious take on what needs to be automated.

Remember that business processes, or other elements change. You need to remember you have BPA running in the background.

Be aware – don’t implement automation and forget

This isn’t a plug and play solution. There’s a misconception that automation software works much like a product – you install it and press go. Unfortunately, with business process automation there is no ‘on switch’.

Automation will run forever unless you tell it to stop or your system breaks. But processes can change, be it due to new laws, new technology, or an increased volume of customers. This means that forgetting about your automation software results in outdated processes being automated. This leads to further problems with governance and compliance.

Be sensitive to ‘automation anxiety’

Human team members worry about being replaced by technology. This hurts office morale and can see valued employees jumping ship. The message on this is that automation can’t do everything a human can do. It’s imperative that you find the right balance between automation and human intelligence within your business.

The flip-side to the anxiety is that automation is there to boost productivity – so that staff can get on with contributing in a more meaningful way.

Automation software, such as tools within Microsoft 365, is often better described as a platform. It’s an engine; not a car. With the right level of business analysis you can automate the things that will help your business, however you still need to tell it what to do. It will need a front-loading of effort to ensure it is configured correctly and performs as it’s needed.

Don’t get confused with automation and AI

AI is not automation. It’s not a ‘smart’ product. Automation does exactly what you tell it to do, in the way you ask it to do it. This means that it doesn’t learn or adapt by itself. You must instruct it. If you tell it to do something incorrectly, it will complete the task incorrectly. It’s crucial to do this right first time – seek guidance.

Always review and test

For this reason, it’s important to review the process your solution is completing. Make sure that there are no errors when setting up your solution, or you could make costly mistakes.

These are just some of the areas that need consideration. When these are successfully negotiated, and automation implemented correctly, you will naturally be building in much needed resilience and efficiency.

We recently hosted a webinar about all things automation within Microsoft 365. Check it out here.