Automating your business processes can help you adapt in a post-COVID world.
The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.Bill Gates
Technological solutions are changing faster than many businesses can keep up with. For businesses wanting to survive in ever more competitive markets, it’s difficult to take advantage of the benefits of automating manual processes, because by the time a new software solution has been committed too, the technology has moved on. And of this, many business owners become paralyzed by fears of making the wrong choices for investment.
Automation in itself has always been a challenge but the emergence of COVID-19 has made these changes nearly impossible. However, it is important now more than ever. Businesses are now faced with these 2 options: continue to slog through manual processes or significantly improve work with automated processes.
Across industries and countries, it is clear that process automation and digitization are viewed as critical to long-term organizational success.
In a recent survey, 92 percent of business leaders across regions that to survive and flourish, companies must enable business process automation.
Manual Process Vs. Automated Processes
You can tell a manual process apart from an automated one with the following factors.
|Manual Process||Automated Process|
|How it is managed||Requires a human to push it through every step and know whom to send it to||The system is programmed to auto-assigns tasks|
|Reminders||Must be sent by a human to everyone||The system can send emails and mobile notifications at specified times|
|Starting||Physical or digital forms are kept in disparate places||All digital forms are kept in the same place|
|Form completion||All fields must be completed manually||Some fields can be auto-filled with regular details and computations|
|Tracking||Must send messages to others to determine where items are||The system keeps a log of the status of every item|
|Audit Trail||Completion events are easy to falsify and might miss information||The system logs every action with the accurate time|
|Communication||Process-related communication often happens outside of the context of the process (email, messaging)||All communication remains within the workflow management tool|
Check out how to maximize First-Time Fix, which you can do with automation.
Automation in Action: A Common Example
Want a more in-depth understanding of the differences? Let’s describe a typical purchase order approval from a manual as well as an automated perspective.
Let’s say you need to generate a job order for a 12-hour repair job. In the manual process, you would either find the paper version of the purchase order request form. Then, you need to fill out every detail and attach it by email to send to your manager. The manager should approve it and send it to procurement, who should create the order.
However, there are a lot of holes in this process. First, the form may have lots of fields and opportunities for data transfer errors. Second, there’s no way for you to check to see how far along the process is. To know if your manager has approved, you need to send an additional email. If she responds to that “approved” with procurement on cc, now, procurement is stuck with an email without an attachment.
Data security and accuracy is also an issue as you need to make sure no one tampers with the numbers and the order is accurate.
Automation can plug all of these holes and give you much more confidence in the process by trusting that every task was completed and the data is accurate.
Benefits of Automated Processes
Irrespective of industry type, an automated process can bring the following benefits.
- Clarity. Automation necessitates a clear and complete understanding of how the process works and who is involved.
- Higher efficiency. An automated process minimizes errors and redundancies resulting in higher efficiency.
- Better customer experience. SLAs can be met consistently with workflow automation, making happy customers.
- Reduced time and costs. With faster turnaround and elimination of wasteful practices, automated processes facilitate time and cost savings.
- Efficient allocation of resources. Since mundane tasks are taken care of with automation, employees can be reassigned to do high-value work.
- Compliance. Automated processes enable compliance with regulations and audit trails.
- Insight. Workflow automation software helps you gain deep insight into your processes with analytics and reports, thereby aiding decision-making.
- Scale. With manual processes, it’s very difficult to scale in response to an increase in demand. Automated processes make this effortless.
- Transparency and accountability. Automated processes keep all stakeholders in the loop, increasing transparency. Status reports keep everyone individually accountable.
Transitioning from a manual process to an automated process can ensure that your organization stays on the path to continuing growth.