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As a business professional, you’re always on the lookout for opportunities to improve the efficiency and accuracy of your business processes. Automating processes can save you time and money while freeing up resources that can be better used elsewhere. But how do you know when a process is ripe for automation?

Why Automation? Why Now?

Using customized software to automate business processes can streamline workflows and eliminate manual data entry errors. It also allows for faster response times and decision-making, improved communication between teams/departments, and better use of resources.

This type of automation is often referred to as Business Process Automation (or BPA). Gartner defines Business Process Automation as,

“The automation of complex business processes and functions beyond conventional data manipulation and record-keeping activities, usually through the use of advanced technologies. It focuses on “run the business” as opposed to “count the business” types of automation efforts and often deals with event-driven, mission-critical, core processes. BPA usually supports an enterprise’s knowledge workers in satisfying the needs of its many constituencies.”

What drives the need for automation? One key factor is the ability to adapt quickly to changing business conditions. Automation allows for faster decision-making and agile responses to market shifts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need for businesses to adapt quickly and effectively in order to stay afloat. Automation can help with this adaptation by allowing for remote work, streamlining communication and tasks, and allowing for quick pivoting to meet changing customer needs.

Custom software automation can also help smooth out inconsistent workforce availability. Tasks that were once manually performed by employees can be reliably automated, ensuring that work gets done even during periods of high employee turnover or absence.

By automating workflows, your organization will complete tasks with less human intervention and fewer errors. This leads to higher productivity and, ultimately, improved customer experience.

What processes are good candidates for automation?

To identify opportunities for automation in your business processes, start by analyzing the steps involved in each process and identifying those that are repetitive or time-consuming. These are potential candidates for automation.

Consider also whether there is a need for increased data accuracy and consistency. Automation can help ensure that critical information is appropriately collected and formatted, reducing the chance of errors.

Another indicator of a good candidate for automation is whether the process involves interactions with external parties, such as customers or suppliers. Automating these processes can streamline communication and improve customer experience.

Bridging the gap between business stakeholders and IT is critical for success with automation.

Collaboration between business stakeholders and information technology professionals is imperative to fully understand the objectives and requirements for automating a process. This collaboration will help ensure that the automation solution meets the needs of the business while also identifying and mapping out potential technology challenges and solutions.

Don’t be afraid to start small and test out different automation tools before committing fully. As you continue to evaluate and refine your processes, you will likely find more opportunities for automation that can benefit your business in the long run.

And remember, automation doesn’t necessarily mean replacing human employees. It can free up their time to focus on more productive tasks and allow them to work more efficiently and effectively. So start looking for opportunities to automate your business processes and reap the benefits of increased productivity and efficiency.

Automation can help your business run more smoothly, but only if everyone is on the same page. To ensure success, consider setting up a Center of Excellence to create company-wide standards and best practices for automation initiatives.

Infographic: 5 steps to automate business processes
Indicators that your business processes may be ready for automation.

You’re Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again

If you find yourself doing the same task or set of tasks multiple times a day, week, or month, it’s a good candidate for automation. Not only will this save you time in the long run, but it will also help to ensure that the data is entered accurately.

It Takes Up a Lot of Your Time

If a task takes up a significant amount of your time, it’s a good candidate for automation. This is especially true if the task prevents you from working on more critical projects and initiatives.

It Requires Multiple Steps

A process requiring multiple steps or moving back and forth between different systems is a good candidate for automation. A custom software solution can automate the entire process when data manually entered into one system is then exported into another. For example, if you are currently manually entering customer information into multiple systems every time a new customer signs up, consider automating the process to ensure that all customer information is entered accurately and consistently across all systems simultaneously.

It’s a Time-Sensitive Task

If a task has strict deadlines, it’s a good candidate for automation. Automating such workflows can save time while ensuring they are completed on time and without error. For example, if you regularly send out important notifications or reminders, rules can be established to send based on specific triggers.

The Process Has a High Error Rate and/or Frequent Bottlenecks Due to Human Error

A task with a high potential for human error is a good candidate for automation. Automating these processes can significantly reduce or eliminate the potential for mistakes or errors of omission. If you’re regularly needing to manually check and double-check calculations or data, consider automating the process.

Tasks That Require Complex Decision-Making

A task requiring complex decision-making may be a good candidate for automation — but not always. Simpler decisions based on logical assumptions and calculations are easily automated. It is crucial to thoroughly assess the potential impact on both efficiencies and risks before implementing automation in these types of tasks.

Is It Time To Automate?

There are many benefits to automating your business processes; however, it’s important to know when a process is ripe for automation. By keeping an eye out for these five key indicators — you’re doing the same thing over and over again, the task is repetitive and/or tedious, it takes up a lot of your time, it has frequent errors, or it requires multiple steps — you can identify opportunities for automation in your business processes.

Consulting with an automation solution provider like Traust can help you determine whether or not automating a particular process makes sense for your business. We’d be happy to meet with you to review your pain points and identify opportunities for automation that can transform your business processes. Contact us today to learn more!