Automation: While it might sound a bit like the robots are taking over, automation is an absolutely essential tool in scaling your business in 2022. In simple terms, automation allows you to maximize revenue and free up time by taking over certain tasks. You’re already benefiting from automation every time you withdraw money from an ATM, use the washing machine or the dishwasher, let your car’s GPS tell you which route to take, get on a plane, or flip channels using your TV’s remote. Automation is an integral part of our daily lives. So, how can you use automation in your business? Let’s look at the basics of business automation and how it can save you major time and money.
What is business automation?
Business automation — or business process automation — simply refers to the technology that businesses can use to perform certain tasks so that real human employees don’t have to perform them manually. There are different levels of business automation, including the following:
- Basic automation: This refers to the automation of simple, repetitive tasks using only the most rudimentary coding. Robotic process automation such as automatic billing, customer relationship management (CRM), partnership relationship management (PRM), other marketing tools like automated emails or social media posts to targeted customers, data extraction, and chatbots are examples of basic automation of business processes.
- Process automation: This refers to automation to manage business processes so that they are more uniform and transparent. Workflow automation and process mining are examples of process automation. This type of automation often requires dedicated software.
- Advanced automation: This type of automation is complicated enough that machines alone can’t perform the tasks involved. Instead, it requires humans and machines to work together to perform the tasks required. Machine learning and natural language processing are examples of advanced automation.
- Intelligent automation: This is the most advanced automation process. Here, AI allows machines to learn through previous situations that they’ve analyzed so that they can then make their own decisions based on that data. Virtual assistants are an example of intelligent automation.
What can automation do for your business?
There are many different ways to use automation in your business. It can be as simple as an automatic reply to acknowledge that you received a customer’s email and are on the case. Or it could tackle more complicated activities like job processing, onboarding, payroll management, creating sales forecasts, invoice management, document approval, and payments. The PartnerStack Marketplace can help you find the automation tools that are right for your particular business needs.
There are many different ways in which automation can benefit your business. For example:
It saves time. Because employees don’t need to spend as much time on repetitive (and let’s admit it, occasionally boring) administrative tasks, they have more time to focus on the bigger picture. Automation also performs many tasks much faster than a human could, and because machines don’t need to take coffee or lunch breaks, they can operate around the clock.
It improves efficiency. With automation, there is less room for error because it’s designed to operate within specific rules with no room for deviation. Humans don’t work in quite the same near-perfect way. Of course, when an out-of-the-ordinary problem arises, a human may be required to find the solution. However, the automation software can collect data and analyze these situations to “learn” from manual processes, allowing it to adapt should similar situations arise in the future.
It standardizes processes. Too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the broth, right? The more people are involved in a task, the more convoluted the execution of the task can become. Automation standardizes the steps that need to be followed in the business process, reducing the risk of anything falling through the cracks or getting off-track.
It reduces errors. You’ve heard the phrase “we’re only human.” We can get distracted, become disorganized, end up hangry, or otherwise become prone to making mistakes. Automation reduces the odds of an error occurring, which can save you time and money. In fact, according to management consulting company Gartner, robotic process automation can save finance teams as many as 25,000 hours of redoing work due to human error, translating to a cost savings in the ballpark of US$878,000. In addition, because automation frees up employees’ time, it allows them more room for dealing with mistakes when they do happen.
It increases productivity. Because automation tools can perform tasks faster and around the clock, more can be done within a certain timeframe. In addition, human employees can perform non-automated tasks in parallel, increasing productivity even more.
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It increases employee satisfaction. A Salesforce survey of 773 automation users in the United States found that 89 per cent were more satisfied with their job and 84 per cent were more satisfied with the company as a result of using automation at work. Because automation can take over those soul-destroying repetitive tasks, employees can spend more time doing work they enjoy. From a human resources point of view, this is great news for the business because employees who enjoy their jobs are more productive, more inclined to be creative problem-solvers, and are less likely to seek greener pastures.
It increases customer satisfaction. Because automation improves turnaround time, reduces errors, and makes it easier for employees to access necessary information, it allows you to provide your customers with better, faster service — and who doesn’t want that in their service provider?
It leaves a paperless paper trail. In business, having a paper trail is important to show what, when, and how something happened. This is not only useful for correcting errors and finding ways to streamline processes, but is also important for business audits. With automation, every step in the process can be automatically recorded digitally, so you have that all-important paper trail without any actual paper involved. You get auditable records, the trees get to live another day.
It improves compliance. Business process automation tools allow you to add another level of control and oversight. This way, you can get improved security and confidentiality protection, which makes it easier to comply with regulatory standards, such as those that you may encounter in finance or healthcare.
It improves the bottom line. In the end, automation is great for your bottom line. Because it makes for more streamlined processes, it means you can get more done within a certain timeframe, and increased productivity means increased earnings. At the same time, you can save money on the wages you would have been paying a human employee to perform these tasks more slowly and less efficiently. A reduction in errors means additional savings. Higher earnings combined with lower costs provide everything you want in a bottom line: a wider profit margin and more money that you can use to grow your business. See, the machines aren’t so scary after all.