…and the excuses that keep companies from adopting it.
What Is Business Process Automation (BPA)?
BPA is the process of incorporating a connected set of software applications to automate processes and workflows for a business. The software primarily functions as support for logistics, marketing/sales, IT services, and administrative duties.
Process automation has become an essential strategy for any company, and particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. In this article, we’ll cover the benefits of process automation, and the all-too-common excuses that keep companies from adopting it.
“We Don’T Have Time Or Resources For Process Automation”
Small and medium-sized business owners wear many hats. Sometimes, they wear all of them. Many business owners started their companies themselves, from the ground up. Each new hire was treated like a careful investment, and the team was built with great care.
When owners and managers hear about automation and process improvements, it sounds like something that only a larger more established business can discuss (and afford). It is often brushed off as a project that sounds great but is out of reach. The answer is too often to keep grinding and possibly hire an additional employee to take some of the workload off, give them a chance to look at the business from a higher level, and perhaps even take a vacation.
The truth is that the tools and services necessary for implementing workflow automations and process improvements have come way down in cost. This is due to more supply in the market. There is more competition, and many companies implementing those tools are offering help specifically to small and medium business owners. Often these companies are small businesses themselves.
Process automation is no longer an elite concept with an astronomical cost that could never make a return for a small business. It’s quite the opposite. You might be surprised at how much value you can find in many tools and at such a low cost compared to the immediate benefit. You may also be shocked at the opportunity cost that is tied up in owners and managers being too occupied with manual tasks.
“I Don’t See The Value In Business Process Automation … Is there any?”
Small and medium business owners need to compare the savings and potential savings along with the opportunity cost against the idea of just cutting costs or saving money. It is much more difficult and costly to implement automation processes in larger businesses where complex systems are already in place, and teams are resistant to change.
The hard truth is you can’t afford NOT to use Process Automation. Business Process Automation relieves employees of the monotonous tasks that take them away from more productive activities. Efficient use of time gives companies the option to increase output without cutting payroll. Employees will have the time and freedom to soak their creative roots and unleash their more innovative side. This can increase employee satisfaction and increase productivity, every business dream.
BPA can also transfer over to improved customer relations using product and service tracking and artificial intelligence. Automation can improve your business reliability with order tracking and processing directly through your website. Also, AI bots used to connect with customers is a tool that many businesses have put to good use, as it has reduced the time in which customers can attain service. Questions and concerns are answered in a timely manner and it eliminates the need to have customer support team active 24/7.
The bottom line is this: if you don’t automate, your competition will, and you’ll be left in their wake. In hard times the lean and efficient survive longer and often emerge as the winners. A shift in focus from simply cutting spending to finding efficiency could very well be a game changer for many small and medium business owners. The trend towards this shift will increase in the coming months and years.
“My Employees Can Accomplish The Same Tasks”
While this statement is true, there are just a few facets of automation that cannot be matched by even the most efficient of workforces. For example, human errors are almost impossible to avoid no matter how proficient your team is. BPA can eliminate that potential for error in many stages, specifically in the IT operations space. Even the smallest of errors can cost a business a lot of money, and in boring, repetitive, and error-prone tasks found in an IT organization, humans tend to make a lot of them. Removing the human variable from this process eliminates many processing errors. Software can handle complex tasks that include a multitude of operating systems intelligently and reliably.
Managers and leaders alike can govern and assign tasks much more efficiently with the use of a single automated interface. Elaborate and complex projects demand team members to be meticulously detailed with the flow of information. Communication between different teams about project progress, deadlines, changes, and other issues along the path of task completion can all be streamlined. Processes have become much more reliable and consistent through automated workflows.
Automation can record financial, sales, and support metrics and report them to provide vital information for the business. There is also some deeper data analysis that is more difficult to accomplish through manual computation. Comparative and time-specific analysis’ can be done at an efficiency rate that is just simply superior. The tracking of assets and resources that is possible through BPA can lead to more precise datasets. All of these make it more possible to accurately project future business needs and revenues.
Beyond projections of future business needs, automation can help you to detect underused, unused, or redundant resources that aren’t serving the company. Identifying waste can save the business money and free up space for more productive assets.
“I Don’t Even Know Where To Start”
Starting is often the toughest part. Small and medium business owners can do a few things to get the ball rolling. The quickest way to get started is to pay for help. Owners can get a quote and ask providers like PaintedRobot to discuss the benefits and value to their organization.
Owners can also look internally for help and turn to their staff for ideas. Often, staff have great ideas for making improvements, but no one has time to ask or implement many, if any, of these concepts. Owners can create bottom-up processes that help them to develop better processes and find efficiencies in all areas of the business. This can be difficult to organize and execute.
There are tools to help automate this process. You can, to a degree, automate and improve the process of automating and improving your processes. It sounds quirky but it’s true.
Business owners can provide a culture that values improvements in efficiency like they do sales growth. They can showcase the value that has been added by making these improvements and even by offering rewards for efficiency found to create a holistic approach to compensation.
A company’s team input matters. It can be challenging to find the time to improve in all areas when you are busy, overloaded, and growing. The potential for optimization through automation is there, it just often takes a team of experts to find it.
One tool worth exploring is the Zoho Suite of tools. PaintedRobot is an authorized implementation partner and can help you setup and deploy process automation for your business. Explore our Business Tools integration page and see the process automation processes we have to offer.