Process automation has become a business imperative: Don't wait until it's too late

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Blog / Docsuite Archiving
Machines have yet to replace human workers en masse, but at the 2019 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, executives revealed that they face enormous pressure from shareholders and boards of directors to meet short-term profit demands. Process automation has been the response around the world.
New technology means that small companies have access to a huge amount of capabilities that in the past may have been too great to even consider. Automation also lowers manufacturing costs in the sense that companies do not need a major transformation to become viable and competitive. Networking between legacy machines can be achieved at relatively low cost – and the production benefits can be enormous.
Ignoring concerns about job security, people tend to agree that machines make work easier. In fact, in a study conducted by Center Research, nearly 80% of executives surveyed agreed that they would save 360 hours annually through automation. These results are not important for the heads of large companies either. As the founder of a startup, you also need to pay attention.
Where can process automation help?
The workforce is usually one of the largest items on a company's balance sheet - if not the largest. You don't have to look for examples of how technology can help lower labor costs: less chances for human error, fewer unproductive working hours, less time wasted for vacations or personal days, lower costs for training and human resources, lower chances of on-the-job injuries, etc. But the benefits extend far beyond improving financial health.
Speed is another area where automation shines. Automation technology can enable you to bring products to market more quickly and fulfill contract requirements sooner (and enable you to secure more contracts). It also puts in longer hours than competitors when they rely solely on a human workforce.
So, the question is no longer really whether you should automate, but what should you automate and where should you automate it?
First, identify redundant manual processes. Example: Think of mail management: manual sorting is slow, mail is lost, junk mail is inevitable, routing errors are frequent, and visibility into processing metrics is low. Similarly, front-office workers may experience frequent downtime and may have little direct impact on return on investment. In either case, basic automated technologies may be suitable substitutes for human labour.
In addition, evaluate the efficiency of data ingestion and processing workflows to reveal business areas that can benefit from cognitive automation. If paper documents dominate your workflow and require a large data entry team, for example, then cognitive automation will provide a huge benefit.
Are you ready to advance your company?
Effective technology implementation processes usually involve significant investments in uptime and capital. Internal audits are necessary to determine the size and scope of your needs, and the automated system must be tested and tested prior to use. Before making a major change, you should evaluate existing production processes to ensure that service level agreements are met during the implementation of the automation strategy.
If you're trying to determine whether a commitment to automation is right for your company, here are four big questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Is the process scalable?
Automating a few disparate tasks will not show much return on investment. On the other hand, automating the work of many small teams that perform many interrelated tasks would provide more value and could significantly increase worker productivity. In fact, a study conducted by KRC Research found that 53% of employees surveyed said automation could save them 240 hours a year.
Automating marketing efforts is a great example of a scalable process that can take tedious tasks off the hands of employees. There is no doubt that marketing is critical to startups as they build brand affinity among consumers, so it may seem counterintuitive to try to build real relationships by automating the process.
But this mission is not necessarily personal. For example, you can automate systems to personalize and send emails at specific times during the buyer's journey.
Whatever process you hope to automate, start by determining if your approach can be extended to a significant portion of your total process. The more comprehensive the automation strategy, the higher the returns.
2. Is the margin of error low enough?
When precision is essential and tolerances are small, machines make great workers. For example, if you have an employee whose job it is to cut pieces of metal to certain lengths, it is unlikely that that person will be able to re-establish the machine's tolerances--at least not as quickly--no matter how long they've been cutting the metal.
When repetitive operations have set parameters, machines always do a better job.
3. Do you process big data manually?
Automation technology is not limited to physical operations. We are now seeing useful applications of cognitive automation software capable of collecting massive amounts of structured and unstructured data, analyzing it, and generating valuable business intelligence to enable better decision-making. If you have workers who are crunching numbers and running models

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