Originally published on August 8, 2017

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46th in a series of 50 Knowledge Management Components (Slide 60 in KM 102)

Process automation: tools that automate previously manual processes, such as producing proposals, creating presentations, developing products, managing surveys, and managing reporting

Many business processes have been automated with commercially-available or custom applications. Those that are knowledge intensive can be considered for inclusion or integration with a KM initiative. Examples include proposals, presentations, product development, surveys, and reporting.

In proposal production, much of the content is standard boilerplate and can be reused as is on each proposal. Some content must be modified slightly, but is typically included. And some content is unique to the particular opportunity and must be tailored extensively. A proposal automation tool can help streamline the effort required, allowing most of the time to be spent on the custom content, and creating a consistent and appealing format.

Presentations are similar in that they combine slides reused from the past, modified slides, and new slides. There are often problems with inconsistent formats, outdated information, and missing content. A presentation creation tool manages slide content in a library, ensures that the latest versions are used, and enables useful features such as synchronized audio recording. This allows presentations to be delivered as recorded slideshows, which can be used for training and to ensure the highest quality of narration.

The University of Michigan’s PLM Development Consortium defines Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) as “an integrated, information-driven approach to all aspects of a product’s life — from its design inception through its manufacture, deployment and maintenance, culminating in its removal from service and final disposal.” For more, see What is PLM?

If you use surveys to understand user needs and satisfaction, you need tools to conduct, collect, and publish survey data. Automated survey administration, data collection, and results compilation makes it easier to do this regularly.

For regular metrics reporting, applications that prepare monthly reports with a minimum of human intervention allow the members of the KM team to spend their time on tasks worthier of their skills. Metrics data provided with a minimum of effort through automated systems can be put to productive use. If you find that staff members are consumed for days at a time each month producing reports, you should purchase or develop systems for collecting, distributing, and publishing data on key performance metrics.

These and other knowledge-based business processes should be reviewed and considered for inclusion in your KM program. Some will be too big on their own, but some will fit well with other KM components and can be tied in as appropriate. Process automation applications can embed knowledge sharing in the routine operations of a business, improving the flow of knowledge across the enterprise.

Other Processes to Automate

  1. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
  2. Staffing
  3. Expense reporting
  4. Project management
  5. Travel reservations
  6. Learning
  7. Research & Development
  8. Manufacturing Execution
  9. Distribution, logistics, and inventory
  10. Scheduling
  11. Transaction Processing
  12. CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  13. Sales management
  14. HR (Human Resources)
  15. Financial planning and budgeting
  16. Operations support and modeling
  17. Process control
  18. Idea management and innovation
  19. Customer support
  20. Market research, competitive intelligence, and customer intelligence


1. HP Proposal Web

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2. HP Presentation Builder

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3. HP Reporting

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4. Deloitte Site Reporting

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5. Deloitte Enterprise Social Network (ESN) Reporting

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1. Proposal Management

  1. Proposal Management Software by Capterra
  2. Best Proposal Software by G2 Crowd
  3. 11 Tools to Help You Easily Manage & Create Proposals in 2017 by Jami Oetting
  4. ExpedienceThe Proposal Assembler
  5. SalesEdge

2. Presentation Management

  1. Accent Present
  2. Empower Slides
  3. PPTshuffle
  4. QuickSlidePowerPoint add-on
  5. SalesEdgePresentation Software
  6. SeismicPresentation Management
  7. ShufflrrGuide to Presentation Management
  8. Slidebank
  9. SlideCampPresentation Management 101
  10. Templafy

3. Product Lifecyle Management

  1. Top Product Lifecycle Management Software Products by Capterra
  2. Best PLM Software by G2 Crowd
  3. Aras Innovator
  4. Arena PLM
  5. Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle
  6. Siemens PLM Software — Diverse functions and technologies converge through PLM, including:

4. Surveys

  1. Top Survey Software Products by Capterra
  2. Best Survey Software by G2 Crowd
  3. The Best Online Survey Tools of 2017 by PCMag
  4. Survey Software by FinancesOnline
  5. Checkbox Survey Follow-up Automation
  6. Qualtrics Survey Software Platform
  7. SurveyMethods

5. Reporting

  1. Reporting Software by Captera
  2. Best Reporting Software by G2 Crowd
  3. Reporting Tools by Software Advice
  4. Reporting Tools & Software: The 4 Most Crucial Aspects by ClearPoint Strategy
  5. Reviews for Enterprise-Reporting Based Software by Gartner


  1. Process Automation Handbook: A Guide to Theory and Practice by Jonathan Love
  2. Business Process Automation by Sanjay Mohapatra
  3. Creating the Ultimate Lean Office: A Zero-Waste Environment with Process Automation by Raymond S. Louis
  4. A Beginner’s Guide for Business Proposal Management by Gaurav Sinha
  5. The PLM Primer by Stephen Dale Porter
  6. Product Lifecycle Management: Fundamental concepts, processes, applications by Riaz Ahmad
  7. Product Lifecycle Management: Driving the Next Generation of Lean Thinking by Michael Grieves
  8. Product Lifecycle Management (Volume 1): 21st Century Paradigm for Product Realisation (Decision Engineering) by John Stark
  9. Product Lifecycle Management (Volume 2): The Devil is in the Details (Decision Engineering) by John Stark
  10. The Ultimate Guide to Forms and Surveys: Everything you need to know about building effective forms and surveys that will help you gather the data you need and put it to work in your business by Matthew Guay, Danny Schreiber, Christopher Peters, and Stephanie Baedell

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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