In 2021, the global automation market was estimated at $214.3 billion, of which $74 billion corresponded to process automation.
The latter term refers to the implementation of technologies that allow automated workflows to be set up, where some functions of many departments are performed in an agile way and without human intervention. As expected, this has a positive impact on companies' finances by reducing the number of errors and increasing the productivity of their processes. However, the benefits can go far beyond this. This blog brings you ten potential benefits that you could achieve in your business if you correctly implement a process automation project.
1. Gives visibility of your processes
Something important to consider is that if your processes are messy and you automate them, you will automate the mess. Therefore, it is not recommended that you implement one of these projects if you do not fully understand your processes beforehand.
For this, I recommend the use of diagrams. These are a visual representation that shows the sequence of activities, the flow of materials and information, the resources needed, who is responsible, etc.; helping you to understand how your process works, where it starts, where it ends, who is involved, and what other areas it affects.
Once here, you can define control points at critical moments in the process. In this way, it is easy to automate measurements and thus generate essential data, which will help you measure and control the performance of your operations.
2. It can guide you toward digital transformation
If you still have manual processes where information is handled physically, an adequately implemented automation project can help you understand, sort, simplify and clean up your operations. They will be more efficient and ready for when you decide to leap to the digital world.
You can delimit and prioritize the process automation project to the most important ones with ready-made diagrams. In addition, any supplier will be able to design a system that guarantees the flow of work and information as you need it, making the transition effective and less painful.
3. Ensure the agility of your operations.
Once you understand who owns and is responsible for the information and resources at each stage of the process, you can anticipate how to help them fulfill their responsibilities and avoid backlogs.
Do your employees need to send personalized notifications, request approvals or signatures, analyze information, or validate the status of a transaction? If one system can handle all of these tasks, you will free up time and reduce the strain on your resources.
It should be noted that just because the system "works alone," it should not. The people in charge understand and know the process better than anyone else, and they will be able to detect any anomaly hand if there is a problem, and no one better than them will know how to solve it. For this reason, these people must remain involved in the process; they must be trained and taught how to use the systems to make the most of the new support tools.
4. Standardize your processes
Hand in hand with the previous reasons, having visibility of your activities, ordering, simplifying, and automating them also ensures that you will decrease the variation in the results of the processes. Consequently, you get to reach a standard of time and quality, giving security and confidence to stakeholders; this could be why you attract new customers and retain loyal ones.
5. Facilitates information management
Automation, through a system, can be programmed to leave a record of everything that takes place. You can decide where to place these records or design a business management system to keep your documents in order.
This way, it will be easy to extract data and generate reports. In addition, if you enter an audit process or need to review something, automated information management will allow you to find any necessary documents easily.
6. Increase customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is a key differentiator in business. Customers have frustrations, expectations, and needs, both for the products and services they consume. If you know your customers, you will understand the experience they want to receive. Then you can redesign your processes and automate them to reduce their frustrations and exceed their expectations, generating a positive impression and, therefore, a satisfaction that will give you a competitive advantage over other businesses.
For example, if a medical industry wants to compare your products for price and quality vs. other suppliers, they expect the quote to arrive as quickly as possible. However, suppose your process is manual and requires physical signatures to approve volume discounts. In that case, you will indeed be left out of your customer's options because you will not meet their available timeframe.
While some human validation will always be necessary, in this example, the automation of some parts of the process could give you one or more advantages. Let's say the quote is filled in a digital system, and it is automatically sent to the sales department leaders. It bounces to another supervisor if no response has been given in a few minutes and to the manager if no one has approved the quote within an hour. Once you have the signature, it is sent automatically to your customer's email.
Although the process is the same, by defining the control points (signature) and programming the business rules (time and responsible for approval), you save time by not having to follow up manually. Your customer will receive a faster response, and you will be automating your customer's experience.
7. Reduce your costs
Cost reduction is one of the most expected benefits of an automation project; this benefit is achieved for many reasons:
- Cycle times are reduced
- Errors and waste are reduced
- Reprocesses are eliminated
- Simple activities are simplified and unnecessary ones disappear.
- Minimize waste
- Bottlenecks are solved
8. Boost the morale of your workers
No one wants to spend the rest of their life performing the same task, and performing repetitive tasks can have a negative effect on workloads. It's not just a matter of boredom; there's an emotional factor that has to do with the need to develop new skills.
If you automate routine and tedious activities, you can give your employees time to engage in more complex tasks to participate in more challenging and critical processes and projects. On the other hand, they should also be trained to use the new systems, acquire new knowledge, and feel more valued.
All of this can improve the conditions within your company. Still, it will also make them feel more confident and secure in the labor market, increasing their happiness and, therefore, their productivity and the perception that outsiders have of your business.
9. Facilitates continuous improvement
Better visibility of your processes, standardization of operations, agile execution of activities, easy access to information, and staff development also bring another necessary consequence.
Over time, your employees have increased their knowledge of process management, acquired new technical skills, and now have data available to analyze information and make decisions. Eventually, they will identify opportunities for improvement and may generate new solutions based on their understanding of the process to benefit the entire organization.
10. It favors decision making
One advantage of streamlining transactional activities and automating data generation, management, and storage is that you can collect and visualize information from all your processes in real-time. Automation software usually displays customizable graphs, allowing you to extract data for incorporation into your analytical tools.
This way, you can monitor your sales volume, the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, the efficiency of your customer services, and other indicators you want to track. This means that automation can help you define strategic objectives and make decisions more efficiently based on the most up-to-date information.
Do you want to increase your sales by improving the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns? Do you want to reduce the cycle times of your service processes to increase customer satisfaction? These questions will guide you to make decisions based on the needs you identify when analyzing the information that your automated system allows you to visualize.
As you can see, from improving response times to enhancing the quality of your products or services, automation is all about making a positive impact by making it easier to perform tasks and make decisions. I recommend you start by understanding and mapping out your processes so that you can delimit your automation projects and develop them effectively. In addition, all the benefits are usually translated into economic terms. However, before automating, you should do a cost-benefit analysis to decide if the investment is justified. Remember that you can divide a project into stages and start with critical processes to provide an excellent experience to your customers and keep your business healthy.