Automation can transform workflows and supercharge efficiencies, enabling us to focus on tasks that truly require human creativity and problem-solving. But not every process is suitable for automation, and implementing it without careful consideration can lead to inefficiencies and setbacks. Let’s dive into the aspects and best practices of a use case assessment — an essential process used to evaluate what’s a good fit for automation.
What is a use case assessment and why is it important for automation programs?
A use case assessment is one of the first steps of automating business processes. This systematic evaluation method identifies and analyzes potential scenarios where a particular solution, such as automation, can be effectively applied to solve challenges. Without a use case assessment, you’re shooting from the hip. And when you’re shooting from the hip, you could be wasting time, effort, and resources on ideas that don’t actually make the most sense for your business or for your automation practice.
Benefits of conducting a use case assessment include:
- Alignment with business goals
- High automation adoption and impact
- Efficient use of resources
- Minimized risk/compliance issues
- Stakeholder buy-in
One of the biggest reasons organizations struggle to scale their automation practice is that they select the wrong processes to automate, or they don't know which automation ideas will have the greatest impact. Conducting a use case assessment helps avoid this pitfall and lay the groundwork for success.
How to build a use case assessment process
Want to conduct a use case assessment, but not sure where to start? You’re in the right place. We’ve broken it down into five simple steps.
Step 1: Identify potential candidates for automation. Perform a thorough process discovery phase to identify and document potential use cases. Start by engaging key stakeholders from different departments to gather insights into their pain points and objectives. Try to review processes with fresh eyes — sometimes processes are so ingrained in teams that they don’t realize they could be more efficient.
Step 2: Establish evaluation criteria. Determine clear evaluation criteria — such as complexity, volume, frequency, and potential ROI — to assess each use case objectively. Not sure what evaluation criteria to use? Don’t worry, we’ll get more into the weeds of what this criteria should be next.
Step 3: Create your standardized template. Create a standardized template to document and compare different use cases, ensuring consistency and ease of evaluation. Collaborate with subject matter experts to thoroughly analyze each use case, identifying areas that can benefit most from automation. Regularly review and refine the use case assessment process to adapt to changing business needs and emerging technologies, thereby continuously improving the success rate of automation initiatives. By establishing a well-defined and flexible use case assessment process, organizations can make informed decisions, optimize resource allocation, and successfully scale their automation efforts.
Step 4: Evaluate. Now that you have your use cases, evaluation criteria, and your handy dandy template, you’re ready to evaluate. Congratulations, you have an organized system that ensures a consistent evaluation that’s aligned to your goals — way to go! When you put effort and thought into the preparation, the actual evaluation goes much more smoothly.
Step 5: Review and adapt. The use case assessment process should be dynamic and regularly reviewed to incorporate feedback, lessons learned, and evolving business needs. Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the process and refine it based on your program's maturity, changing priorities, and emerging technologies.
Evaluation criteria: What to include on your evaluation template
Let’s talk about your evaluation criteria — the meat of your template. Your evaluation criteria should encompass technical feasibility, operational viability, organizational fit, and strategic alignment.
Potential evaluation criteria for your automation use case assessment:
- Complexity: Consider feasibility in terms of technical, operational, and organizational factors. How complex is the task? More straightforward tasks with well-defined rules are often easier to automate.
- Volume: Evaluate the frequency or quantity of instances in which the process occurs. Processes with high volumes may offer greater potential for efficiency gains through automation.
- Benefits: Analyze the potential impact of automating the process on overall productivity, cost savings, and resource allocation.
- Strategic alignment: Determine how well the process aligns with the strategic goals and priorities of the automation program as well as the organization as a whole.
- Return on investment: Conduct a cost-benefit analysis, considering factors like implementation costs, licensing fees, infrastructure requirements, and expected savings or revenue generation.
- Risk/compliance: Identify potential risks and challenges associated with automating the process, such as data security, compliance, or disruption to existing workflows. Assess whether the necessary risk mitigation strategies are worth the effort.
These criteria are a great place to start, but keep in mind that you may need to modify based on your specific organizational goals.
- A use case assessment is an essential process used to evaluate what’s a good fit for automation.
- Conducting a use case assessment involves identifying potential candidates for automation, and then evaluating them based on established criteria on your use case assessment template.
- Evaluation criteria should encompass technical feasibility, operational viability, organizational fit, and strategic alignment.