Stop Wasting Money And Implement Business Process Automation
What is Automation?
To put it simply, automation is the creation of a process that can be performed with little to no human interaction. The time we save from using computers or our phones is well worth the cost of buying them. Imagine having to create financial reports without Excel or not having a phone to quickly look something up before a meeting. These may not seem like examples of automation but without Excel you would have to create reports by hand (including all those formulas) and without a phone and the internet, you’d have to open some books or actually talk to your coworkers (oh no). These are simply tools that we use to make work and life easier.
Employees are more productive than ever because of access to software and there continues to be an ever-increasing number of software solutions to problems in business. So why then, do we so often stop at using tools like Excel, instead of fully automating business processes? Excel already saves us so much time, what more could process automation save us? How do you even get started with automating business processes? There are plenty accessible tools that you can use to automate business processes today, such as Microsoft Flow and even more options if you’re willing to learn how to program with languages like Python or C#. Learning these tools will help grow your business faster than you ever could without them.
So Why Do You Need Automation?
There are many benefits to using software automation in the workplace. Reduced workloads and increased reliability are the most obvious; however, capturing opportunity costs and increasing the scalability of workflows is often overlooked and are a much larger part of the benefits gained from automation.
An employee that splits their time between revenue generating functions and tedious, time-consuming work would benefit from the additional time afforded to them with automation by being able to focus on the tasks that generate revenue and grow the business. Every minute an employee has to spend on work that doesn’t directly help revenue and growth, costs the business in that lost revenue and growth potential. This doesn’t mean that these tedious and time-consuming aren’t important. In fact, tasks such as validating data, auditing payroll, or financial analysis are vital to the health of a business but these tasks can and should be automated so that employees can spend time on growing the business rather than maintaining it.
Scalability is another major benefit from software automation. Tasks that may take a couple employees a week to do could be done in as little as a few minutes using software automation. Not only does it take longer without automation but it’s far more costly in labor, training, and equipment to hire additional staff to tackle the same work a computer can do in a fraction of the time. With automation, managers can hire additional sales staff, engineers, or other critical positions, improving business performance overall.
- Automation can save each individual employee 6+ hours per week
- 33% of most jobs can be fully automated using available technologies
- Well-designed software makes dramatically less mistakes than people
Suppose your company is in the business of lending and you currently have a sales team that spends much of their time answering questions, sending documents to and from potential customers and your underwriters, and filing paperwork and reports. Hours a day are taken up by emails, questions, and paperwork. Your sales team is distracted from generating new leads and handling the most important clients. You could always hire additional staff but then you’re only throwing money at the problem.
Imagine the benefit of having a fully automated sales pipeline. Automation would allow potential customers to apply for lending and the appropriate documents would be automatically sent back to the customers. Customers then submit the required documentation and your automated system assesses the data, assigns an approval recommendation, and then sends the information and documents to underwriters for final approval. Now the sales team can focus on generating new leads and communicating with only the clients who need it. Not only did you reduce the workload on your sales team but you also allowed them to focus on growing the business. This system could even be taken a step further by automating lead generation as well.
What should you automate?
So how do you know if you should implement software automation? This is a question every business owner, manager, executive, and employee should be asking themselves and while this may seem like a complicated question, it can be answered in three questions. If your answer to them is that you perform the task or series of tasks often and they’re repetitive and they can be done by a computer, it’s likely worth spending the resources to automate the task(s).
1. How often are these tasks performed?
2. How repeatable are these tasks?
3. Can these tasks be done by a computer?
While the first two questions are easy to answer, the third is quite a bit more complicated, especially if you have little experience with automation. Sometimes the answer to the question requires in-depth knowledge in programming since the solution can’t be easily done otherwise. Before convincing yourself that only a person can perform the task, make sure you do some research and get expert opinions on the work you need done. All too often business owners and managers trick themselves into thinking certain tasks can’t be automated when in reality, they just haven’t found someone who knows how.
How to Implement Automation
Great, now you know if the task in question should be automated but depending on the task you want to automate, it can be easy or extremely daunting. Regardless of the difficulty, every solution can be and needs to be broken down into small pieces. Say you want to send an email to request new pricing lists from your distributors each month… Let’s break that down into steps.
1. Retrieve a list of your distributors
2. Create an email to a single distributor
3. Send the email to that distributor
4. Repeat steps 2-3 for all distributors
Next, you’ll need to determine what tools to use for this task. For simple automation, tools like Excel or Microsoft Flow may be sufficient but if you need to pull data from websites or SQL databases, it may better to use programming languages like Python or C#. While this is an extremely simple example of what you can automate, this process applies to any task you want to automate. Of course, as the complexity of the task grows, so too will the number of steps required and the difficulty of implementing the solution. This is where it helps to have someone you can trust to design, develop, and maintain the automation tools you need to be successful.
Automating financial reports, audits, and large data collection and validation systems at an organizational level is far more complicated than a few Excel workbooks or a few Python scripts. Automating major, complex processes requires a dedicated and experienced team to properly design and develop software that is reliable, fast, and scalable.
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Finding out what can be automated, what is worth automating, and how to automate business processes is difficult. If it wasn’t, it would be as common as using Excel but the benefits far outweigh the effort. Automating your entire sales pipeline or automating analytics and report generation takes quite a bit of skill and knowledge and will likely require custom software to be designed and developed by experienced professionals. If you’re looking for a team of developers to build tools for you and your business, the team at RoseberryPi can guide you through the entire process, from an initial evaluation of the potential of your business to be automated to the design and development of the software that will push your business further than ever before.