Business process automation helps businesses immensely…
After having written so much about business process automation (BPA) in the abstract, this week I finally started venturing into the practical impacts of business being enabled by technology. Today I’ll touch upon matters that are more general to businesses overall. First, let’s go through some down-to-earth advantages, shall we?
Practical advantages of automation
1. Eliminate paper right at the source
We can digitize any paper document possible – it’s time we took advantage of that fact! Two very important outcomes result from digitizing everything – we have a permanent, easily-stored record of all digitized data, and we can cut the substantive costs inherent in document warehousing.
- Search times for vital information drops drastically too!
2. Maximize productivity of tasks that only people can do
- One of the chief draws of automation is that it frees up your human talent to do what humans do best: Ingeniously plan, cleverly sell, and creatively innovate.
3. Heighten the visibility of your assets
- To automate, you have to tag everything implicated in your business process before you can set the automation in motion. This tagging renders everything visible – you get a much clearer picture of what’s in your business!
4. Make better projections
- In an earlier, less technologically-enriched age, projections had to rely on a lot more guesswork. There simply wasn’t enough manpower to track every asset and resource. Now, with proper BPA you have the tools to monitor everything, all the time. Which in turn leads to much more precise datasets and more accurate projections of future business needs and revenues.
5. Identify sources of waste
- Beyond better projections of what you’ll sell and what you’ll need to make your products, good BPA will enable you to detect under- or unused resources (e.g., cellphones orphaned by a departing employee). Automation of processes will allow you to identify and repurpose that which has been sitting around in disuse.
6. Enable and/or facilitate new channels of business
- Automation allows you to set up and maintain sales and support infrastructure in domains you would never have been able to manage using only human resources. Amazon is a perfect case in point – through automation, Amazon can sell and provide support just about anything, just about anywhere.
7. Save money even as you sleep
- You’re only human, and you’re not just entitled to your sleep, you’ll literally damage your health if you don’t rest enough. Sooner or later, you’ll have to stop physically managing your operations, if only to give your poor, exhausted body some much-earned rest. That limitation doesn’t apply to your automated systems, however. It can be set to run all day and all night, tirelessly and endlessly.
8. Easily manage decentralized teams in different time zones
- On the note of being restrained by your human frame, you can sadly only be in one place at a time. You can’t really reach out to places literally on the other side of the world. At least, not all the time. Automated systems can, however.
Practical challenges of business automation
Now, I’d be less than responsible if I didn’t mention some of the downsides. Fortunately, they are few and far between:
1. Integration compatibility and cost can be a serious issue
- If your company’s been around for any appreciable period of time, you’re going to have legacy systems of your own. One of the key worries that you’ll have to face is whether or not any new system you implement will mesh well with your existing resources. And regardless of how well old and new systems interact, there will be actual monetary costs associated with melding the two.
- With automation, you’re taking the human factor out of menial tasks so that they can focus on tasks that only humans can do well (remember, this is an advantage!). Now, as much as you may not realize it, the human being is a very complex creature. Even when s/he does a fairly menial job, there are a lot of intricate actions in play. To automate her/his job, an automated system must replicate all of this intricacy. If you’re looking to automate, you have to determine whether the solution you implement is complex enough to do the job. You also have to make sure that the interface isn’t too complex to use meaningfully as well!
- There are some very definite issues with security where technology is involved. There are countless hacking attempts every moment of every day. Digitizing everything opens up this vulnerability; good solutions are those that constantly upgrade their security measures.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope this has been useful! If you’d like more information about BPA, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re Cimpl, Canada’s leader in technology asset management and telecom expense management. Our signature product is Cimpl – a SaaS solution that lets you comprehensively and simply manage all of your technology assets. If you need help automating your business processes, we can help!