Doing more with less has been the gold standard for businesses for decades. Organisations are constantly looking for ways to trim costs while increasing their competitive advantage.
However, with new technological advancements occurring all the time, there are always emerging opportunities to save time and, therefore, money.
Amidst the excitement of new technological opportunities lies an overlooked process gem that is allowing businesses to realise cost savings and efficiency benefits; automation.
By automating core business processes, organisations can free up time and resources, enabling people to begin focusing on customer-centric activities and innovation. Just as importantly, a business can also realise significant cost savings.
Four ways to save with automation
There are four key areas where automation can deliver significant savings in just about any business, including those that have been running lean already:
Manual tasks are error-prone by nature because people are imperfect (who would have guessed?).
Every time someone completes a process manually, they run the risk of making a mistake. Although some errors can be small and fixed relatively easily, every minute a staff member spends rectifying an error is a minute they’re not spending on building the business.
What’s more, some of the errors that creep through due to manual processes can be incredibly costly for the business. For example, forgetting to add a zero to the end of a quote not only means a business loses money on a project instead of making a profit, but it can sully the relationship with the client, risking the loss of their business altogether.
Automated processes complete each task based on business rules. If there is an exception to the rule, a human can step in and make a decision but, because they only have to do so every now and then, time and costs are minimised.
When one person or group is responsible for manually completing tasks, it creates a single point of failure. Not only that, but it also becomes harder for a business to scale.
For a lot of businesses, growing a customer base means adding new team members to manually process the growing list of orders or new registrations, for example. This raises the cost of customer acquisition and can make it all but impossible for an organisation to grow quickly and sustainably. However, by automating the registration process, businesses can add new customers using minimal effort. This delivers exceptional scalability and means existing team members can focus on driving growth instead of merely keeping up with current demand.
Humans can only work for a set number of hours in the day before they start to burn out, become less productive, take time to stare into the void and potentially start making mistakes. This means team members need to rest, which means processes stop. But what if processes need to run 24 hours a day? The manual approach ultimately means hiring multiple teams to cover multiple shifts. This is incredibly costly in terms of headcount, penalty rates, insurance and more.
By contrast, processes can easily run 24 hours a day without concerns about health and safety or staff costs if automated. Applications don’t take breaks and they don’t make mistakes. Meanwhile, people can be better leveraged for their creativity, solving human-centric challenges all while the administrative processes continue in the background.
Even team members who are well-trained and highly experienced are limited in how fast they can complete processes manually. For fast-moving organisations, adding more people to speed up tasks is often the go-to approach. But this adds more costs and stops businesses from growing quickly.
Automation software completes tasks many times faster than humans ever could. This means resources can be redirected towards more growth-oriented, creative work for team members that contributes to the company’s success (AKA the good stuff).
Starting the automation journey
Organisations that haven’t yet started to investigate automation are often surprised by how easy and affordable it can be to start automating key processes. Even partial automation can start delivering a strong return on investment (ROI) very quickly so you can start small before committing to more broadscale automation.
It’s important to start by comprehensively reviewing all of the processes in your organisation to determine where people spend (or waste) the most time and, therefore, where you could save the most time and money. Start by looking at the areas that attract the most complaints, with the ideal candidates being heavily repetitive and menial tasks. This could be as simple as a team member who is constantly monitoring an inbox to perform an action, a spreadsheet that is meticulously built each week, a paper form that needs to be filled out, or simply where you find your team entering the same data into multiple systems.
These are the areas to focus on first for automation. Once you’ve got wins on the board, you can start to delve deeper into your processes to see where further automation can yield more benefits.
It’s important to work with a business automation partner that has a comprehensive understanding of your unique business requirements and can develop a business process automation approach that works for you. This process includes:
- identifying inputs, outputs, and decision points
- understanding the context in which each process operates
- identifying automation opportunities
- assessing the feasibility of automating those processes either partially or in full
- recommending an automation roadmap to deliver the desired outcomes.
Azured takes an incremental delivery approach that focuses on delivering core functionality, then progressively injects additional intelligence and features as required. This is the most cost-effective approach that lets you achieve ROI before moving forward with additional phases. Azured is a premier Azure partner that helps businesses automate their processes through strategically implementing and managing Microsoft cloud services. To find out how we can help your business save money through automation, contact the team today.