Automated computer operations can be traced as far back as 45 years ago. IBM broke the ice with their OS/360 operating system, which was (like other early operating systems) a supervisory program. Sure, the system was good enough for batch processing, like managing system resources, but like any early operating system, the OS/360 was filled with shortcomings. Running batch jobs was okay, but with so little control over their sequence, the OS/360 still required operator involvement.
To say process automation has come a long way would be something of an understatement. What with all the talk about robots making jobs obsolete in the not-so-distant future. Of course, there is also talk about how beneficial process automation can and has been to companies across many industries. As technology continues to push forward, so does the need for us to perform complex tasks; some of which are time-consuming and labour-intensive. This is why software developers continue to develop automated operations software solutions that are so popular today.
Why not use these tools to your greatest advantage? Process automation has time and time again helped businesses like yours reap benefits like:
Hold your horses. Process automation may be heaven-sent, but that’s speaking in a general context. As they say, there is a time and place for everything, and that goes for implementing process automation in your business as well. Automation can be very productive. However, not all processes are meant to be automated. Want the details? Keep reading.
We’ll talk more on how process automation can make a huge difference for your company in all the right ways. And why not every aspect of your business is meant to be automated.
Let’s get into it.
When carrying out tasks manually, there is room for countless issues or mishaps, such as missing deadlines, cutting corners (which can at times affect the end product) and even omitting important steps in certain processes. Automation eliminates these risks and thus ensures more consistency.
Yes, manual tasks can be time-consuming, and have plenty of room for human error. But did you know they can also be super costly? Not all tasks should or can be automated, but at the same time, there are some tasks that should by no means be handled manually. These could be simple, mundane tasks like sending regular mails, approving sales and payments, and even delivering papers to be signed.
Whatever workspace you and your colleagues are occupying, communication will be a key contributor to the success of your business. Need to talk about tasks? That’s where sticky notes and emails come into the picture. But what about collaboration? Emails and sticky notes won’t exactly be godsends in this context. Establishing an automated workflow is the remedy. This way, getting together and unclogging any stagnant processes in the workplace becomes a streamlined process as opposed to a sloppy one.
As you know, automating business processes comes with a number of benefits. Being able to collect data whenever necessary is one of them. Actually, you can collect data every time a process happens. So, when it’s time to improve your business, you will have reports that keep track of important metrics. The value of this cannot be overstated.
It goes without saying that automated processes are quicker than completing tasks manually. But sometimes we may not appreciate just how huge of an advantage this is. Remember, most transactions can be done electronically these days. And most of them are completed through our mobile devices. We spoke on this earlier: how these processes make room for fewer errors. Consider also that processing can take place while you are on the go, with or without your supervision.
There is no short answer to this question. Frankly, it’s more of a mixed bag. Automation tends to shine when it comes down to repetitive and mundane tasks. But there are also complex processes where automation can work wonders. Read more on it here.
So, when is automation a downright “bad idea”?
Anyone can appreciate being able to bypass speaking with a human agent to automatically book hotels or spa reservations. However, complicated call attendant automation is a different story. Namely because of the maze of options that needs to be prepared if the process is to work properly. Your customers aren’t likely to appreciate that either. Especially if after going through that tedious process they are rewarded with a disconnect. It may come across as if you are not interested in engaging customers unless they are buying something, which could, ironically, cost you customers.
By Michael Deane
Michael Deane is the Editor of Qeedle, a small business magazine, and has been working as a marketing executive for nearly a decade. He manages teams with great success, aiming to facilitate better conversion rates and return on investment for his clients.