Human-centered initiatives & process innovation

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Alex Scharpe
First things first. Let's talk about innovation. More precisely, let's talk about bottom-up innovation where ideas 'bubble up' from anywhere within an organization, not just from top-level management or external consultants. With this bottom-up strategy, everyone can feel engaged to develop ideas and think about solutions.

First things first. Let's talk about innovation. More precisely, let's talk about bottom-up innovation where ideas 'bubble up' from anywhere within an organization, not just from top-level management or external consultants. With this bottom-up strategy, everyone can feel engaged to develop ideas and think about solutions.

Compared to the more traditional ways of innovating (hierarchical methods), this bottom-up concept results in more and better quality ideas and ultimately in a more innovative and collaborative culture within the organization. Studies show that bottom-up innovation increases the innovation momentum which eventually leads to cost reductions and increase in quality.

To help our customers and speed up innovation, we (RoboRana 🐸) have created a Process Innovation Accelerator (PIA) tool that supports the acceleration of human-centered initiatives. You can consider PIA as a sort of an digital ideation box, which your organization can use as an internal application. It streamlines the discovery, identification and exploration of processes in urgent need of redesign, optimization of automation. Solutions for even the most frustrating or repetitive processes an employee has to perform can be addressed in the tool. By increasing employee engagement, the PIA tool gains valuable insights into what is really happening on the work floor.

On top of that, our user-friendly PIA application lowers the threshold for your employees to be in the driving seat during the exciting automation journey. Sounds interesting? Let's show you what's more 💪🏻!

Power Platform

To build PIA, we used Microsoft's Power Platform. This dynamic and flexible platform enables us to design a versatile application in a low-code approach. One of the many benefits of the Power Platform is the speed and adaptability in which we are able to build a robust solution. More about the Power Platform specifically can be found in our recent blog.

Lifecycle of an idea

Creating ideas 💡: as PIA can be used by a large audience, we choose for a highly standardized and convenient UI/UX. This becomes quickly apparent when a user wants to file an idea, a clear and transparent wizard helps the user step-by-step.

Users navigate through several steps by answering a series of questions in and finally submit their idea. If a question is not clear enough, an info button is available which shows extra details and instructions. This ensures a good understanding of the expected output, which eventually leads to more coherent and clear idea or initiative.

When drafting an idea, users are asked to provide information about:

  • Basic information such as name, description and department
  • Added values which indicate how the idea could enhance a certain way of working
  • Info regarding the ROI to estimate the operational and financial aspects of an idea
  • All the integrations which are required to carry out the process
  • Variables which indicate the complexity & feasibility of an idea
  • If possible, the workflow steps that need to be executed to complete the process

This detailed information provides the decision-making team (of part of an Center of Excellence or innovation board) with sufficient value based information (like benefits and possible costs) that help to determine the feasibility of the the idea.

Sharing ideas: one of the key success factors in a bottom-up innovation strategy is clear transparency of all the digital initiatives within the organization. Therefore, all ideas submitted in PIA can be consulted by anyone (or can be changed according the needs). By maintaining this transparent focus, co-workers might be triggered and inspired when looking at other ideas and create innovative ideas themselves.

Ideas can be further explored via insightful visuals or an adjustable overview. Users can view specific information of a particular idea by easy navigating through the detail pages. If necessary, sensitive information can be made visible for only a certain group of users. To identify most popular ideas (or often the most painful processes that need to be tackled first) among staff, a voting system has been designed where users are able to vote for their favorite ideas/processes.

An important aspect, to realize PIA's full potential, is to clearly outline a road map for each idea. In other words: "What are the different statuses an idea could be associated with?" Usually, this goes from 'New' to 'Pending' and eventually to 'Approved' or 'Rejected' but this idea life cycle may differ for each organization. On top of that, a complementary 'evaluation team/board' must be determined that will be responsible for reviewing, evaluating and deciding what to do next with an idea. The role of this team within this innovation initiative is essential, as they will ultimately determine which ideas are best aligned with the strategy of the company.

PIA gives the evaluation team several options to assess an idea. This can be done by motivating a status change, refining the idea input and so on. In order to remain transparent, all users can view at all time the life cycle of an idea on a dedicated status history page.

We have defined a straightforward approach for how users can create ideas, get inspired by other ideas and evaluate which ideas should be considered for redesign, optimization or automation. But it's the organization's own responsibility to design a coherent idea road map and choose a well-balanced evaluation team that looks tool-agnostic to the incoming ideas. Only then will PIA lead your organization to successful digital initiatives.

Customize input & configuration values

Not only establishing a durable idea life cycle procedures is essential. Defining the desired output and setting up how the ideas can be measured (prioritized) against one another must also be determined before users can even begin to submit ideas. Our tool is highly customizable by configuration to fit any organization's needs.

First of all, it's important to determine the technical aspects of an idea. Apart from our standard queries, you might have an organization-specific set of questions which need to be included in the application. The agility of our solution allows us to edit or delete our own questions and to create custom questions to get more useful information about a new idea.

By means of comparing the technical and functional feasibility of the submitted ideas, we've introduced as well a complexity score calculation. The complexity outcome is determined by the answers to various questions about the current practices of an idea (eg. use of sensitive data, number of integrations, amount of different steps). Via the admin section in the application, the evaluation team can mark all these questions with specific weight indicators. In this way, your organization decides which questions will have the greatest impact on the overall complexity score.

The numeric values that impact the ROI-outcome 💰 of an idea can also be adjusted on the admin page. Variables such as average cost of 1 FTE or annual number of workdays can be modified in this section, which is only accessible for admin team members.

Besides all these features, PIA can be expanded in a number of other ways. By adding dedicated pages with insightful visualizations (Power BI) or automated workflows (Power Automate), we can leverage the full capabilities of the Power Platform to tailor your unique Process Innovation Accelerator.

Wrap up

A common issue within digital innovation projects is a lack of engagement or participation from the work force. They may assume that technology will take over their jobs, they might be afraid that they can't handle a new business application, they may think their AS IS process is the way forward… This mistrust or sometimes lack of technology knowledge can be overcome by involving employees in the digital innovation process at an early stage. Our fully flexible Process Innovation Accelerator acts as an internal community hub where innovative ideas can be identified, consulted and evaluated in a smooth, bottom-up approach 💪🏻💥.

Want to know more about PIA and deploy this insightful tool in your organization? Schedule a call 📞 or send us an email 📩.

Let's innovate, optimize and automate, together!

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