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Why and How to Integrate Automation Into Your Business

  March 17, 2022 | Christopher Sayadian | Tools & Resources

 

Key takeaways

Automation is rapidly becoming essential for businesses to stay competitive, operate more efficiently, and nurture growth and innovation. From customer service to marketing to HR, there are an abundance of platforms and tools that can reduce manual effort for repetitive tasks and even handle more complex ones. Integrating it successfully requires a holistic approach that includes:

 

  • Identifying areas where tasks are taking up significant time
  • Investigating where and how departments interact with each other to find opportunities to automate workflows and communication
  • Standardizing processes and data to support automation across the organization
  • Evaluating whether long-term projects and goals align with greater automation
  • Taking the opportunity to redesign workflows and processes for greater efficiency
  • Reevaluating automation tools and business needs regularly to ensure they are still aligned

 

Digital transformation is changing and enhancing the way businesses operate, and automation serves as a foundational element. In 2020, half of business leaders said they were planning to accelerate the adoption of automation—making it essential to stay competitive in a fast-moving business environment.

 

There are an array of platforms and tools available that can automate jobs ranging from simple to complex. From repetitive tasks to streamlining workflows to gathering and analyzing big data, automation eliminates human error and supports greater efficiency. Perhaps most importantly, it creates more time and mental space for workers to focus on higher-value activities that support innovation, growth, and performance.

 

Automation has multiple applications across the range of operations.

 

  • For customer service, chatbots and emails can be deployed for frequently asked questions. Platforms can scan for keywords and provide the appropriate answer or materials for common issues, such as password resets. By automating repetitive tasks, representatives and IT personnel can be dispatched to handle more specialized requests or problems.
  • Marketing can automate email campaigns, surveys, personalization, and abandoned shopping cart reminders. Automation has revolutionized marketing operations, even allowing for automation of customized messaging based on past purchases, demographics, buying habits, and more.
  • Finance and accounts payable can use automation for vendor verification and setup, budget spreadsheets, data extraction from invoices and purchase orders, and scheduled payment calculations and disbursement.
  • For human resources, employee and client on-boarding and offboarding can help ensure all steps are standardized and completed on time. Automation can also help with benefits management and communications.

In addition to the previously listed benefits, automation can result in quantifiable savings. Almost three-fourths of IT leaders say automation is saving employees between 10 and 50% of the time spent on manual, repetitive tasks. It can also help businesses save on costs related to recruiting, hiring, and training new employees to handle those tasks when business grows or picks up—such as during busy seasons or when scaling operations.

 

Take a Thoughtful Approach to Automation

Taking the time upfront to research and pinpoint where automation could best be applied in an organization is essential to its success. Simply adding platforms and tools without closely considering business processes and goals, or failing to perform due diligence on the automation solutions themselves, risks inefficiency, user confusion and disengagement, and wasted resources.

 

Instead of applying automation tools reactively or within departmental siloes, leaders should consider the entire organization holistically to ensure they are incorporated where they will be most effective.

 

  • Take the time to find “pain points” or areas where employees and customers are spending significant time and effort. Asking employees which tasks they find most burdensome or time-consuming can also provide helpful information.
  • Explore how departments interact with and affect each other to identify where automation can reduce or eliminate the need for manual effort and support more effective workflows.
  • Examine where and how processes and data can be standardized to simplify automation.
  • Consider short- and long-term business goals and projects and where automation might help achieve them sooner, or whether they still make sense as investments.
  • For businesses that aren’t sure where to begin or have a limited budget for automation, focus on the most obvious repetitive tasks.

It’s important to understand that automation is not just a matter of transferring existing manual processes to machines. It’s an opportunity to rethink processes and workflows to realize greater efficiency. These up-front efforts, while potentially time-consuming initially, will pay off more than haphazardly adding automation without fully considering business needs or implications.

 

Once automation technologies are in place, revisit them regularly to evaluate whether they are still advancing business goals, work in the way that you need them to, where they might need to be replaced or adjusted, and where more automation could be useful.

 

While the process of incorporating automation may seem overwhelming, it’s an incredibly important and even revolutionary technology for businesses of all sizes. Contact us if you’d like to explore automation or evaluate whether the tools you have in place are effectively supporting your business goals.

 

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