Automation of tasks is the delegation of repetitive tasks to a machine to free up time and energy for other more meaningful work. Automation can be as simple as scheduling reminder emails to clients at the end of every month instead of doing it manually every month. You can also pay your bills and make your savings automatically on a specific date. Automation is a powerful tool in business because it saves time, smooths out processes, and allows people to focus on higher-level issues. Whenever a business is seeking to improve efficiency through automation, there is a process they can follow to find automation opportunities in their workflow.
Process of Automation
Automation in most cases relies on software. However, before deciding on what to automate, it’s best to list all activities in your workflow. You could write them on a spreadsheet and categorize them. They could be billing activities, sales, marketing, and so on. Indicate the frequency with which you need to do them. Note the time that it takes to do each activity as well as the tools used.
From this process, you will be able to identify those activities that despite their simplicity, consume too much time and energy. It would be best to organize a team meeting to discuss those activities from the perspective of various departments. During this meeting, you could explore automation opportunities that could improve workflow. For instance, synchronizing productivity apps like Slack with individual people’s calendars can help to automatically send reminders of meetings and deadlines.
Depending on the size and nature of the organization, you could call in an automation consultant to help go over workflow to identify further opportunities. It may require custom software to integrate separate processes or automate one manual process. In other cases, the consultant may recommend the adoption of an existing automation tool in the market. In project management, for instance, Rindle has a dashboard where a task is moved along columns whenever a team member marks their part as done. The next person is notified so they can take over. All members can track progress.
Automation ought to be a gradual process of improving efficiency. Managers ought to draw their organizational workflow chart before and after the automation of a process happens. Metrics to measure include time and man-hours saved.
Technical Tasks to Automate
We all know that we can automate simple and repetitive tasks such as invoicing a client every time orders come in. However, you can automate much more complex processes in your workflow too. If you are an organization that needs to send multiple proposals to different clients every week, you could take advantage of proposal management software to help prepare and organize your proposal documents.
In many cases, you are likely to use similar templates and the same people from the sales, marketing, finance, and legal departments will be involved in the process. You could have a repository within the software to store such things as licenses, certificates, proof of past work, and so forth. The software helps coordinate and avoid mixing up the various proposals the team may be working on simultaneously. It also helps to avoid working on each proposal from scratch.
Recruiting is another example of a tedious and time-consuming process. However, instead of calling out for applications yourself, you can send out a job description to job board sites such as ZipRecruiter. You can use screening tools to reduce the number of people to interview. Tools exist so that interviews with candidates are scheduled for different times and notifications sent accordingly.
Other technical tasks that are automatable today include lead follow-up. Being able to identify leads that represent potential business can grow revenue dramatically. Whenever inquiries come in from the different channels, those that represent potential business should be assigned to a sales agent for follow-up. They should also be segmented according to where they are in the sales funnel. The salesperson will have a list of leads to follow up on together with important information on each. It increases the likelihood of closing the deals.
The Benefits of Automating Repetitive Technical Tasks
Being able to automate work in any organization significantly reduces errors associated with human fatigue and boredom. Even when automating does not eliminate reliance on people fully, it helps them perform work more accurately. In the case of proposal management software, it’s less likely that documents will get sent to the wrong person or a deadline be missed.
As highlighted, automation can reduce the time taken to complete tasks. The savings in man-hours for a big organization can translate into thousands of dollars. But perhaps an underrated of relying on automating reminders and emails is the improvement in internal communication within an organization. It can have a great impact both on morale and productivity. It eliminates reliance on verbal communication and creates a trail of evidence that enforces accountability.
Seeking automation also improves integration between processes within an organization. APIs connect independent processes, such as procurement and payment. It minimizes the fragmentation of an organization’s processes.
Automation vs Artificial Intelligence
It’s common to hear people use the words automation and artificial intelligence interchangeably. They associate them with software and robotics helping to improve processes. However, the two differ in complexity and functioning. Automation involves building software or hardware to do what otherwise requires human intervention. Once a process is automated, it will work that way forever.
Artificial intelligence is building software that mimics human intelligence and behavior. Artificial intelligence is heavily reliant on data and as more of it becomes available, the AI gets better. For instance, music streaming services use AI technology to recommend content based on previous content uses AI the person watched or listened to. The longer the person uses the services, the better the service will recommend new content. Therefore, certain forms of automation rely on AI technology, but the two terms are not interchangeable in all contexts.
Finding Automation Opportunities
If your organization needs help identifying automation opportunities in its workflow, get in touch with Transcendent Software. We help companies with process automation by building software to handle tedious and repetitive tasks. Process automation helps companies reduce labor costs while increasing return on investment.Image Designed by vectorjuice / Freepik