As the world continues to dive into digital transformation, all businesses and industries are searching for optimizing technology solutions to keep down their operational costs and get the most out of their resources. And what is the revolutionary technology promising just that? Automation.
Automation is now all the buzz motivating businesses to optimize their processes. When we first welcomed automation to the business world, thoughts of industrial robots out-performing human jobs, self-driving cars, and machine learning technology became top of mind. Now, we think about marketing automation easing processes by sending hands-free emails to billions of inboxes.
Those are all major examples of automated processes, but the reality is, automation is everywhere, and it has become accessible to businesses of all sizes. In fact, we hardly even notice it today. An automated phone system, for example, or an online shopping cart are forms of automation widely used by all.
Automating business operations has increased businesses’ overall production efficiency by utilizing AI and machine learning technology to perform operating tasks without manual input. Automating work processes to reduce or eliminate human intervention frees up human capacity for more valuable tasks allowing organizations more time for strategizing, creative thinking, and problem-solving.
Benefits of Automation in Business Processes
With our digital and competitive global market today, businesses face the pressure to speed their product-to-market timeline and increase their operational productivity while reducing overhead costs to achieve a competitive edge. Therefore, businesses are turning to business process automation to improve day-to-day efficiencies by reducing menial work and therefore the number of people and time needed to perform tasks ultimately trimming off unnecessary expenses. And in a tech-inspired world, all labor-intensive expenses are now deemed unnecessary. This also allows employees to spend more time working on items they prefer to do, and many industries are seeing a rising demand for dynamic and flexible employee workplaces. By economizing operations with automation, businesses can reduce expenses, improve margins, and improve overall revenue capture.
Key Benefits of Business Process Automation:
- Increases the speed of processes
- Improves customer experiences
- Reduces time spent on administrative tasks
- Increases employee satisfaction
- Generates more insights
- Reduces human errors
- Improves collaboration
- Streamlines information
- Promotes compliance
- Increases consistency
- Enables scalability
- Improves efficiencies
What can be automated?
Ultimately anything repeatable. If a business process is repetitive in nature and doesn’t require critical thinking, it can likely be automated with the help of technology or automation software. Some factors that indicate a need for automation include:
- A high volume of tasks.
- A multitude of people required to complete tasks.
- Time sensitive tasks
- If compliance is required.
- If the task impacts other processes.
Not every business process is the best fit for automation, and the processes where human intervention isn’t necessary may look different to each industry. Starting with one process at a time, implementing automation into business operations can bring an organization to new a level of productivity saving a lot of time and money in the long run.
3 Examples of Automation in Business Operations to Implement Today
1. Automated Office Management
Implementing automation into office management systems is a growing solution and priority to advancing the efficiency of an entire organization by taking menial administrative tasks and having them run themselves. Automated management systems through various software applications can automate multi-level workflows and task assignments, generate documentation and reports, speed information retrieval, run message transmissions, automate schedules and calendar meetings, and much more.
One example of office automation systems includes data applications, which are used for streamlining information storage and retrieval as well as creating and manipulating textual data such as automated editing of a document, file, or spreadsheet. Another component to data management is the automated exchange and accessibility of information between different employees or functions of an organization offering more control, accuracy, and access at the same time. Through a network connection, all data information can be shared within seconds with automated multi-level access for increased security and real-time collaboration.
Automation simplifies operational inputs and better tracks operational outputs recognizing ways to do business in profits. From data management to employee management, to facility management, automated technology decreases labor demand and increases production saving time, money, and resources and offering a strategic advantage for businesses trying to expand or compete on a larger scale.
2. Automated Finance and Accounting
With the availability of accounting automation tools today, finance and accounting teams no longer need to utilize their valuable time manually entering data. Many core finance department processes such as bookkeeping, accounts payable, account receivable, payroll, tax compliance, billing, and auditing can be optimized with automation increasing efficiency, producing more data analytics, and minimizing human error.
One actionable example of business process automation in accounts receivables is managing invoices. Issuing and tracking invoices can be incredibly time-consuming but implementing automation software to the operation can generate, validate, and monitor invoices and provide additional functions like measuring them against sales and delivery records and sending reminders to clients. For financial tasks, automated financing technologies are sweeping functions such as automating financial statements and approval requests with minimal human intervention to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Automating these complex and error-prone processes provide better quality assurance and eliminate time-consuming work, so accounting or finance teams can put their expertise to more useful objectives. And combined with the increase in data collection brought by automation tools, teams can better utilize insights to identify problems or inconsistencies and inform cost-optimizing business decisions.
3. Automated Sales and CRM
As the sales cycle encompasses many touchpoints over a long-term process, sales automation can streamline sales processes and increase their productivity and capacity. Instead of manually setting reminders, sending follow-ups, or going back and forth with a potential customer to figure out a time to meet, automation and AI technologies can take repetitive tasks off the sales team’s plate. There are many sales automation tools such as customer management systems, prospecting tools, meeting schedulers, email automation, deal creators, or lead scoring tools for sales reps, managers, or organizations to utilize for an increase in efficiency, performance, and customer satisfaction.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is an important sales automation tool to implement as it connects the sales department with customers at each point in the funnel. Automation within a CRM software can provide an abundance of shortcuts like automating records, activity, research, data entry, communication, and lead nurturing accelerating the workflow of the sales department and enhancing the customer experience. For example, customers are engaged via multiple channels such as email, phone support, after-sales service, onsite chat boxes. Automation can help centrally store customer information across all channels and provide immediate viewing of information when communicating with clients.
Automating sales processes can boost overall team performance and KPIs, provide predictive analytics like sales rates based on previous statistics, enable scalability of operations, and many endless benefits with the wide range of automation software tools available today.
What started as a luxury concept, automation technology for smarter business, is now a necessary tool. Automation has significantly impacted how businesses complete projects, produce outcomes, and serve clients changing the way entire industries operate. With the incorporation of automation into business operations, labor-intensive human tasks are being replaced and organizations are seeing their ROI with increased efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Automation benefits and areas for opportunity are limitless and will continue to reshape labor resources and job roles in the coming years.