Imagine for a moment, that you are in a life-threatening survival situation, and that it is up to you to survive. No one is going to come and rescue you. You’re going to have to do this all by yourself. One of the things that’ll improve your chances of surviving are you innate survival skills – the things that you already know, or have learned that will help you pull through. Another important thing that will determine whether or not you survive is the tools you have available and how well you implement them. In a survival situation, your innate knowledge alone won’t be enough to help you live. In order to survive, you’re going to need to use every tool you have handy. It is this combination of skill sets and the right tools that will get you through.
Survival in the business world is no different than personal survival in the wild. You certainly need to be a good business person with better than average business knowledge in order to succeed. However, no matter how good your business skills are, they will not be enough to get you to where you want to go on their own. In order to succeed, you are going to need the right tools for the job at hand. One of the best, and most effective of these success tools is automation.
What is Business Automation?
In the simplest terms, business automation is nothing more than a series of processes that automate certain tasks and areas of operation within your business. However, while business automation is relatively simple to understand, in order to properly implement the correct processes we’re going to have to take a closer look at what is involved.
Picture an average day at your particular business. Think about that day sequentially and in some detail. What are the things that you find yourself doing over and over again on a regular basis in order to complete certain tasks? Do these repetitive steps keep you from attending to more pressing and potentially more lucrative items on your agenda? Do you find that your employees are faced with similar routine tasks that prevent them from concentrating on more important matters? If your answer to any of these questions was yes, then some sort of system to automate those particular processes is in order. That is exactly what business automation is and does. It makes a business more efficient and more productive by automating routine tasks that often waste time and therefore, money.
Because of this, an increasing number of entrepreneurs and managers are appreciating the significance of automation in executing the various business functions of their operation. The term Business Process Automation refers to the task of leveraging technology to automate business processes with the overall goal of reducing labor costs. In other words, it reduces complex processes by integrating software applications.
According to Forrester Research, business automation has its origin in the need to bridge the gap between lead management and selling activities. In addition to that, it was used in order to establish a strong alignment between marketing and sales and study their interaction in an easier way.
Businesses have been keen on making choices that are going to make the business attain optimal results. Automation plays a critical role in ensuring that a business is able to cut down cost and produce optimal results. Unfortunately, some businesses are not aware about the process of automation and its relevance in the business. In this light, entrepreneurs and managers really should gain a comprehensive understanding of the various advantages of business automation in order to make an informed decision. So, let’s take a look at some of the top 9 improvements automation can bring to your business.
Promote Better Communication
One of the greatest challenges facing the modern day business is how to effectively handle communication. For instance, enterprises have to deal with the tiring work of handling large correspondence. The internet is a jungle, the Wild West. What this means is that not all online users are responsible after all. For example, spanning is a common practice. Those in management face the difficult task of sorting out spam emails from the more important ones. With automation, this is no longer a problem. Consequently, it will allow your staff to concentrate on other tasks.
Traditional business environments have long been characterized by a lot of paperwork and processing. The higher the workload involved in this paperwork, the higher the probably of a breakdown in communication. Similarly, it was not uncommon for businesses to have data that they could not account for. Similarly, it’s not easy to organize water cooler comments, sticky notes, and emails in a single repeated process.
Business automation becomes a handy tool that can be used to cushion businesses from such challenges. Through the use of a single dashboard, a business can streamline its communication process. Every initiated workflow is going to have its predetermined line of communication. Consequently, managers can account for and track any data and information.
Another important item in the handling of communication is personalizing messages. People like to be recognized. Targeting to meet the preferences and needs of each of your clients or customers is going to promote engagement and loyalty. Automation will also help in the creation of a database of your clients, capture their personal details, and eventually each and every communication.
Human beings by nature, perform tasks in a linear manner, which makes us vulnerable to errors. Steven Robenbush, writing for The Wall Street Journal, states that automation employs cognitive technology which does an approximate assessment of how people think and behave. Inefficiencies and errors can be expensive and time consuming. For instance, suppose you were supposed to pay $100 on an invoice, and the employee enters $1000. Your company has just recorded a loss of $900. Such repeated errors and inefficiencies can cripple a business over time.
Similarly, careless mistakes such as inadvertently making payments late can drastically damage the overall reputation of a business. In addition to that, such mistakes can lead to a disruption in the product life-cycle or supply chain. There are other errors that can be prevented through business automation as well. These include payment of goods that were never received and slow sales approvals.
Let’s face it, even the most careful employees still make mistakes. One of the drivers of human error is increased workload and working under pressure. Similarly, companies with insufficient number of employees may be at risk of overloading available employees with work, thereby increasing errors as well as the margin for those errors.
What process automation does is provide a company with computer aided data entry. The software application being used will perform a thorough check on logical errors, both of omission and commission. Reducing errors is an excellent way of staying competitive, as well as promoting the overall health of a business.
There are a number of business functions that can be automated in order to reduce the time that the employees spend performing routine duties. These include daily communication, appointment reminders and social media communication.
Business automation also frees up time that employees spend on specific functions. Consequently, they are able to concentrate on other vial tasks. To make this a little more clear, let’s look at an example. The original rationale behind higher education was research and teaching. However, routine and specific functions such as grading get in the way of these goals. However, if grading becomes automated, the university’s teaching staff can concentrate on teaching and research in order to contribute to knowledge in a more efficient manner.
In addition, freeing up employee’s time through automation also gives them an opportunity to be innovative and responsive to a customer or client’s immediate needs. This type of flexibility is invaluable in establishing good relations with your business’ client base.
Managing employees is not an easy task. In particular, it may not be easy to delegate responsibilities and track the behavior of each employee. This is more difficult when dealing with teams. It is not uncommon to find a manager blaming a certain employee for a mistake or passing a blanket judgement to a team.
With automation, all output clearly identifies the person who executed that particular task. This means that it is very easy to know who made a specific error in a particular process. Such correct information is very useful when it comes to the application of sanctions on a certain employee or the need for additional education or counseling.
Remember that accountability is not always about disciplining the workforce. On the contrary, it helps in identifying the employees who have specific performance weaknesses and may need help. Consequently, such assistance can be provided to them when they need it most.
Proper Division of Roles and Creation of a Clear Hierarchy
Automation means that there is a very clear delegation of roles among company employees. It also means that there is no overlapping of duties. Consequently, delays and problems are minimized as each person knows what he or she is supposed to do. In connection with this, creation of a clear hierarchy means that there is more responsibility. Moreover, automation allows some tasks to only be performed by authorized persons. These include access to sensitive information and privileged documents.
However, it should be noted that automation does not complete business tasks. Rather, it makes these operations easier and more efficient. Also, automation does not always mean that the jobs are eliminated. It can create an environment where there is a harmonious co-existence of both technology and people.
Companies are becoming very sensitive to the various rules and regulations that concern their industry or niche. In connection to this, enterprises do not want to come into conflict with the law. Doing so can lead to costly and time consuming lawsuits that can hurt the reputation of the business. In addition, many companies have their own internal rules and regulations which are required for an efficient running of the business.
This is where business automation software comes into play. It ensures that the various rules and regulations, both internal and external, are followed. This minimizes the above mentioned litigation costs, allows for smooth operations when it comes to specific quality control guidelines and, in general, improves overall efficiency.
There is nothing as important to a business as having specific information regarding consumer behavior in a certain industry. Automation can help businesses understand their target audience in order to tailor their product and services in alignment with the needs of that audience. Similarly, understanding the clientele is going to help you, as an owner, to identify the weak points in your production and supply chain, and to improve the same.
For example, a business can use software in order to understand the various demographic variables of its online customers. This will lead to increased conversions from leads. It will also ensure that there are no wasteful promotional efforts. In short, automating customer demographics will result in a leaner and meaner presence in the marketplace and an overall boost in sales and market responsiveness.
Promoting Business Survival
Sustained business growth and development requires that businesses employ strategies that give them a competitive advantage. In other words, your clients want to see something different from what other businesses in your industry are offering. It’s all about value and not merely products and services. In regards to this, evaluation and modification of management strategies requires tracking performance metrics and defined workflows must be completed within a given time frame.
Automation helps businesses use resources in an optimal way. Consequently, they are able to satisfy their customer base in a way that provides value to that base and retain profitability for the company. This is an advantage that can help your business survive any slump or economic downturn.
Improving Business Performance and Output
Rational decision making theory states that businesses seek opportunities that are going to have minimal expenses, minimal risks, and maximum output. Automation ensures that specific tasks are executed identically. This produces highly reliable results and high quality outcomes. These, in turn, ensure that expenses are kept low, risks are minimized and profits remain within acceptable margins.
Another advantage of automation is that businesses are going to achieve consistency in providing their products and services to their clients. Which is important as the general public can have a very low tolerance to variation and change. In fact, some customers will only do business with a certain company if they can easily predict the outcome of the business transaction.
Now that you have a deep understanding of the top benefits that automation can bring to your business, it’s time to take action to automate your operations and Samex can help.
Samex helps businesses realize their potential and operate efficiently through the use of business process automation tools and an automated workflow system to ensure that there is an efficient streamlining of business functions in your production, billing and service departments. Contact us to schedule a demo of our business automation software, and get a closer look at how it can improve your business.