Throughout history, human beings have always looked for ways to simplify every-day tasks. From the invention of the wheel to the car to the first computer, mankind's need to increase productivity and save time has stayed consistent.
With the invention of more modern technologies and software systems, access to information is limitless, and completing a task takes little to no brainwork. GPS has replaced maps and compasses, Google has replaced library research, and emails have replaced letters.
Business solutions are also used by organizations to automate tasks, streamline workflows, and minimize human error. In a globalized and competitive economy, automation is the key to an organization's success.
Though investments in automation may be expensive, the derived benefits cannot be overstated.
Read ahead for an overview of business automation and its benefits.
What is Business Automation?
Business automation is an organization's use of technology to perform cyclical activities and tasks in place of manual effort. It utilizes both business process management (BPM) and business rules management (BRM) to meet evolving consumer demands. These terms are more clearly defined as-
- BPM - Methodology utilized when facing a challenge to change the way of looking at and controlling processes.
- BRM - A technology system that defines, monitors, and automates the various policies and requirements across multiple processes and applications.
Automation in Business Today
Organizations were once only using either BPM or BRM to automate specific processes and save money.
Due to evolving market demands, consumer needs, and advancements in technology, utilizing a comprehensive business automation strategy is more effective than implementing either BPM or BRM.
Enterprise leaders and IT need to collaborate to meet market demands in today's climate. As time progresses, businesses are focused on developing new strategies that automate the entire organization itself, rather than simply streamlining and automating a few business processes within the organization.
As a result, business automation managers are seeking to develop process-driven, agile apps that quickly accommodate user needs.
The Advantages of Business Automation
Organizations are consistently seeking to find ways to complete more tasks in a shorter time frame. Inefficiency costs money, drives up costs, and leads to a decrease in employee morale.
Globalization and evolving consumer demands have made it harder for smaller businesses to compete, particularly if they have not utilized technology to maximize efficiency. For these reasons, business automation is not just an option for organizations who want to succeed-it's a requirement.
Benefits of business automation include-
1. Eliminate Paper
Digitizing a paper document allows organizations to have a permanent record of all company-related information. Storing and warehousing documents can be expensive, particularly for those organizations that have a large amount of paperwork (law firms, health-based facilities, etc.)
Digitizing paper saves money, promotes sustainability, and protects the company from harm. Audit trails are stored, customer interactions are maintained, and information can be accessed at a whim by authorized individuals.
2. Free Up Talent for Important Tasks
Many times, organizations waste their best talent because they need those individuals for manual processes. Automation allows technology to complete repetitive tasks and processes, allowing employees to work on more important activities.
It can also save an enormous amount of time for business units such as the HR department, who used to spend hours calculating overtime pay and verifying timesheets. Instead, the organization can maximize productivity and generate revenue by allowing each department to focus on more important business goals.
3. Increase Visibility
To automate, users need to configure every aspect of each business process in the chosen technology system. Tagging allows business owners to gain greater visibility into every process that occurs in the organization.
Greater visibility allows stakeholders to make better decisions based on the latest, real-time information. This will increase productivity, maximize efficiency, and help the organization generate more profit.
4. Improve Forecasting
Before automation, organizations had to use guesswork to predict future outcomes because there wasn't enough labor and resources to make accurate projections. Now, business automation provides the tools needed to track every process at all times.
Automation allows software solutions to use historical data to make future estimations and predictions. This will help to save money as financial decisions can be made on more accurate forecasts and data.
5. Identify Inefficiencies
Automation allows enterprise leaders to use real-time data to pinpoint inefficiencies and find areas of waste. Organizations can use this information to repurpose resources, reassign employees to better roles, and decrease wasteful spending.
6. Generate New Sales
Automation increases the ability to generate sales in ways that were not once possible. For example, eBay is an automated platform that connects buyers and sellers from all over the world. This newfound capacity to initiate sales on a higher plane can open up new opportunities, generate more wealth, and attract new customers.
7. Stay Open for Longer Hours
Technology doesn't require time off, breaks, or a vacation. It doesn't become tired at night or need a bathroom break at 10 a.m. every day.
Business automation allows organizations to make money at any time, at any location, in any capacity. Thankfully, there isn't much need for a person to be present while this is happening. Configurations can be set up to allow buyers and sellers to connect with minimal need for a human monitor.
The Disadvantages of Business Automation
Of course, switching from manual processes to automation doesn't come without challenges and downsides. Many smaller businesses have a harder time justifying the shift as they have less paperwork and are used to performing tasks manually.
Other businesses may not see the purpose of switching to automation as they are generating profit, have a content workforce, and experience high customer satisfaction levels. They also see the disadvantages to business automation, including-
1. Big Investment
Switching from a manual to an automated system can be expensive, depending on the type of software solution(s) chosen. Initial costs range in price depending on the type of features needed to manage the organization.
Furthermore, maintaining and implementing the system can be costlier than using a manual system. However, the cost savings benefits from using an automated system usually outweigh the investment.
2. Loss of Flexibility
Technology is limited to a certain range of tasks that depend on how the system(s) was programmed. People can think outside the box and use creativity to fix problems and adjust to a disruption.
There is a reason why people prefer speaking to a person rather than a push-to-talk machine when calling the customer service line of an organization. People can understand complexities, nuances, and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances. Machines can usually only understand big concepts and perform specific actions that have been assigned to them.
3. Eliminates Jobs
One of the bigger crises facing this country is the displacement of workers due to automation. Automating business processes can eliminate roles that require repetitive tasks. On the flip side, as the need for automation increases, there will be an increase in the need for labor to monitor and generate these technologies.
What is Business Process Automation?
Business process automation is when an organization creates a set of strategies that use technology to streamline workflows. Unlike business automation, business process automation refers to the exact strategies needed to ensure automation is successful. There are four main automation strategies, including-
- Basic Automation - A technology system that stores information regarding the simple jobs within a business.
- Process Automation - Software and apps used to record and monitor business activities for transparency and authenticity.
- Integration Automation - Allows machines to observe human behavior and mimic those actions to carry out processes.
- Artificial Intelligence - Artificial intelligence decides what to do with data based on historical information and patterns.
It can help to minimize the need for workers to complete repetitive tasks, increase access to information, improve communication, and increase collaboration. Because of these reasons, many organizations are implementing BPA.
The Benefits of Business Process Automation
Business process automation allows an organization to use resources wisely and generate more profit. By maximizing efficiency and productivity through increasing automation across the organization, businesses are reducing their overall operating costs.
As the competitive landscape has become more complex, business process automation allows organizations to make quicker decisions that help maintain a competitive edge. Other benefits of BPA include-
1. Reduces Operational Costs
Automation can reduce costs and generate revenue by increasing efficiency and minimizing inefficiencies. It helps both small and medium-sized businesses that don't have as many workers to complete tasks.
It makes it easier to sign documents, contracts, and manage expenses by utilizing an optimized software solution. It also minimizes the potential for human error, saving money by minimizing reckless mistakes.
2. Improves Customer Service
With an automated customer service system, organizations can offer quicker and more accurate assistance to clients while minimizing labor expenses needed to perform customer service tasks.
Utilizing AI helps to quickly answer customer questions and give access to valuable resources to help clients conduct self-service. It also improves the response time, as holidays and weekends don't affect a software solution.
3. Increase Productivity
Technology that automates recurring tasks can free up resources and allow workers to perform more important aspects of their jobs. For example, an organization can use automatic bill pay to avoid late fees and ensure timely and accurate payments.
Automated software systems can also backup data quickly, publish social media posts automatically, or segregate emails. All of these small benefits help to increase productivity across the organization.
4. Increase Employee Morale
An automated solution improves access to information, simplifies tasks, minimizes busy work and streamlines activities. In short, it makes day-to-day work life much easier for both employees and managers.
Because hiring new employees is an expensive feat, organizations need to decrease their turnover rate and improve employee morale. Utilizing an optimized software solution to improve the quality of work-life for the average employee is one way to ensure this happens.
5. Enforce Best Practices
When processes become automated, they become standardized. Standardized processes are known as best practices because they are set in place as the simplest and quickest methods to complete tasks. It's easier for managers to enforce best practices when technology systems automatically enforce them.
Managers won't have to worry about employees performing the same task in a few different ways. Everything will be streamlined, which helps to increase morale, productivity, and efficiency across the organization.
Why Businesses Should Use Automated Software
There are many different software solutions for organizations looking to cut costs, increase employee morale, and improve productivity in the workplace.
Automated software tools create value for a business and its customers by acquiring new customers, handling customer interactions, maintaining customer relationships, managing leads, improving conversion rates, and expanding marketing capabilities. Some examples include-
- Hootsuite - Social media management tool to streamline marketing campaigns and engagement.
- Shopify - A platform that allows businesses to generate and manage an e-commerce store with minimal technical capability.
- HubSpot - Acting like a customer relationships management system, this software tracks every contact point with the customer.
- Salesforce - Organizations can enhance their digital presence by automating sales tasks, marketing, commerce, and customer service.
1. Reduces Costs
With pressure to increase profitability, reducing costs becomes essential. Automation software increases service to the end-user and reduces costs by automating and streamlining many labor-intensive tasks.
Many modern servers operate at a low cost while the expense to employ staff can be 71% of total expenses. Utilizing a software solution can reduce costs across the board by improving decision-making, gathering real-time data that pinpoint inefficiencies, and minimizing the cost of labor.
2. Increases Efficiency
As there is an increased dependence on computers, there is more need for systems to carry out more complex tasks. Modern-day solutions can resolve backorders and batch workloads by eliminating the downtime between jobs and decreasing the need for worker intervention.
This reduces the time needed to complete each project and increases the number of projects a person can complete in one day.
3. Mitigate Risk
Paper can get lost, documents can be destroyed, but a backup system with Cloud-based integrations lasts forever. Businesses can mitigate risk and prepare for audits by using an automated software solution that saves important data forever.
Data save and recovery systems are automated to protect the organization from loss, litigation, or accidental damage to hardware.
4. Increases Reliability
Because the potential for human error is decreased with automation, the reliability of information naturally increases. Users can be confident that the information they access is legitimate and up-to-date.
Automated systems can notify authorized users in case there is an out-of-the-ordinary input. This helps to further strengthen the confidence users have in organization-stored data.
5. Maintain a Competitive Edge
In today's world, it's impossible to maintain a competitive edge without using the most proficient and up-to-date technology. As globalization has increased automation, businesses with manual processes are falling behind.
Automation increases output and quality, making it difficult for manual-based organizations to compete. Utilizing a software system can help small to mid-sized businesses maintain an edge in an ever-evolving competitive landscape.
In conclusion, here are the key takeaways to remember about automation in business-
- Business automation is an organization's use of technology to perform cyclical activities and tasks in place of manual effort. By removing the potential for human error that comes from manual processes, organizations can save money, standardize best practices, and improve efficiency.
- Benefits of business automation include- eliminating paper, freeing up talent for important tasks, increasing visibility, improving forecasting, identifying inefficiencies, generating new sales, and the ability to stay open for longer hours. Downsides to business automation include- a large investment, loss of jobs, and a loss of flexibility.
- Benefits of business process automation include- reduced operational costs, improved customer service, increased productivity, increased employee morale, and enforced best practices.
- Benefits of automated software tools include- reduced costs, increased efficiency, mitigated risks, increased reliability, and the ability to maintain a competitive edge.