What areas of your business will benefit most from automation?
Before jumping into automation, think of the areas or processes where it might make a difference.
You don’t need to know how it will work when it’s automated, just that it could be done more efficiently.
Streamlining processes with automation
Business process automation (BPA) – also known as business automation or digital transformation – is the technology-enabled automation of complex business processes.
It can streamline business for simplicity, achieve digital conversion, increase service quality, improve service delivery or contain costs.
Four types of automation can be applied
- Basic automation takes care of simple tasks in your organisation. This could be as simple as a centralised messaging tool providing communication transparency instead of hiding information in various email accounts.
- Process automation plans and manages repetitive tasks for consistency and transparency. It is more potent than necessary automation and can be controlled by dedicated software and apps.
- Integration automation takes process automation to the next level by replicating and replacing human movements on a repetitive task. An excellent example of this is robot production lines for manufacturing cars.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) automation adds humanlike decision making into the mix. The system would make decisions on what to do with the data, based on what it has learned and analysed continuously. For example, in manufacturing, AI automation can significantly reduce supply chain forecasting errors.
Stephen Wellington, head of digital service with Compu-Stor says automation is often misunderstood to be an IT project, but it’s a way of streamlining your business for simplicity.
“Human resources departments have to rely on paper a lot. The minute you see a process that has a reliance on paper, there is usually automation available for that,” he says.
“It’s not just where there’s a lot of paper involved in the process, it’s where there are many human touchpoints in the process and the touchpoints are repetitive.”
Wellington also adds that change can be severe for businesses and it is essential that management is supportive of even the smallest change to the way things are done.
“It’s good to have an idea of what success would look like – what automation would do for either your company or for a specific process,” he says.
“The cost-benefit of business process automation in your company depends on what processes you want to be automated. Regarding invoices – if your business was processing 60 invoices a month and it is taking a long time to do that, automation might be worthwhile.
“If you have 10 invoices a month, then probably not. But then if each invoice was in the millions, it might be useful. For a school with hundreds of students, it would probably be a good idea.
“You also need to consider what alternative tasks or jobs the staff doing the processing would do. If you can’t redeploy them to other activities, it might not be worth doing.”