Many companies are looking to automate business processes, and although this seems like a new thing to some, the first example of data-driven business process automation can be traced back to the 1960s when enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) were introduced.
But, what does automation in business mean today?
To begin with a bold claim: any business not taking advantage of automation is losing money. Today, automated processes are a necessity - and it’s not just about cutting costs: automation can significantly improve efficiency, accuracy, and overall productivity.
How Automated Business Processes Help
AI-powered automation tools allow businesses to fully automate tasks such as data analysis, vendor management, employee onboarding, customer support and relationship management.
The demand to keep improving efficiency in business means that managers need to stay on top of developments in business automation.
In more tangible terms, automation for business enables a more enjoyable work experience when employees can focus on the work they were hired to do, instead of the frustrating repetitive tasks that can be automated.
No downsides then! Let’s see what implementing business process automation strategy consists of.
Step 1: Identify the Right Processes for Automation
Take some time to assess which processes would benefit most from automation. Think about tasks that are repetitive, time consuming, and prone to human error. More importantly, think about the processes that, once automated, will free up valuable human resources for more creative tasks. Examples of effective automated business processes would be data entry and invoicing, inventory management, and customer support.
Step 2: Find the Right Tools
It goes without saying that the market is flooded with automation tools, be it Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML). Different tools cater to different business needs, so selecting one for your business requires some careful consideration.
If you’re not sure what the difference is, or which one would be best for your business, it’s a good idea to reach out to an experienced IT consulting company to ensure that you make the right choice in the end.
Step 3: Integration
Successful automation is not about replacing human roles but enhancing them, so it’s very important to integrate automated business processes with existing workflows. This means allowing employees to get used to collaborating with their new “digital colleagues”, offering user-friendly interfaces and cross-platform compatibility.
Step 4: Data Security and Compliance
Data Security should be a priority for any company, but even more so for a company that implements automated business processes. Implement high-security measures to protect sensitive information and ensure that automated processes are compliant with industry regulations. This practice keeps your business safe and builds trust with clients.
Step 5: Monitoring and Optimization
This ‘step’ is an ongoing effort: the implementation of automated processes is not a one-and-done affair. Automated processes need to be regularly monitored to identify potential glitches, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement on time. Also, automated systems should evolve alongside your business needs, which requires occasional revision and adaptation.
Step 6: Employee Training
As routine tasks are transferred to technology, employees can focus on more complex and creative aspects of their roles. Still, this shift doesn’t happen by itself - it requires some attention and commitment to upskill your employees. Offer necessary training and help them build the skills needed to operate automated systems, monitor them and identify room for improvement.
The Ultimate Goal of Business Process Automation Strategy: ROI
Other than creating a more enjoyable work experience for employees, the basic goal of process automation is tangible return on investment (ROI). This can be achieved either through cost savings, increased productivity, or improved customer satisfaction. Every business automation needs to be tracked and its impact measured, not only to justify the investment but also to help making decisions regarding future scaling or refining automated processes.
An Example of Successful Automation: “TechSolutions Inc.”
For this practical use case scenario let’s observe a fictional company named “TechSolutions Inc.”
TechSolutions Inc. is a rapidly growing tech company known for its innovative products and outstanding customer support. Due to this rapid growth, the customer base expands and so does the volume of support inquiries. To maintain high-quality service, the company decides to automate its customer support processes.
The customer support team at TechSolutions Inc. is struggling to respond to a high volume of relatively routine queries, which leaves them little time to deal with more complex issues. The challenge, therefore, is automating repetitive tasks, allowing support agents to fully focus on unique and more complex customer queries.
1. Automated Ticket Triage
The company implements a ticketing system that categorizes incoming support requests based on predefined criteria, such as: issue type, urgency and customer history. Then, AI algorithms analyze the content of each ticket and assign it to the appropriate category. For instance, common queries about product features or account settings are automatically routed for quick solution.
2. Chatbot assistance
A customer-facing chatbot is introduced on the website and within the product interface. It uses natural language processing to understand user queries, discern routine questions, basic troubleshooting and FAQs - all of which it handles itself. This provides instant response to customers, and also frees up human agents for more complex problem-solving.
3. Knowledge Base Updates
Automation is also implemented to analyze ticket resolutions, enabling the support team to easily recognize common issues and regularly update the system’s knowledge base. This ensures that the knowledge base is current, up-to-date and overall as efficient as possible.
4. Intelligent Escalation
The system analyzes the complexity of the problem, customer history and available agents’ expertise. Then, the ticket is intelligently escalated to the most suitable support agent, resulting in a quick and adequate response.
Faster response times - automation significantly reduces the time taken to categorize and address routine queries, leading to faster responses (and enhancing their overall experience).
Productivity - support agents are freed from repetitive tasks and can focus on more challenging aspects of their role. More rewarding tasks boost job satisfaction.
Scalability - As the company continues to grow, the automated support system easily scales to handle increasing customer inquiries without expanding human resources.
Improved customer experience - Last but not least, customers benefit from 24/7 support, quicker resolutions and access to a large knowledge base. The overall customer experience and satisfaction is improved, leading to increased loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
To sum it all up, automation transformed the company’s customer support operations, creating a more efficient, customer-centric service model. The satisfaction of clients is boosted, as is the efficiency and morale of TechSolutions Inc. employees.
Embracing automated processes has quickly moved from a prudent decision to a necessity. Automation has spread to all kinds of businesses, and if one company doesn’t have a business process automation strategy, the one that does will quickly overrun it.
By identifying, implementing and optimizing automated processes, businesses not only revolutionize their operations, but they also secure a competitive edge in the market.
Moreover, customers recognize innovation and continuous improvement and value companies that value their time and respect them. So, ready to explore the potentials of automation? Let’s talk!
- What is business process automation?
Business process automation is the use of complex technology to complete simple tasks with minimal human interaction.
- What tasks are good to automate?
Repetitive tasks such as data entry and processing, basic customer support queries, document management, and email marketing campaigns are all examples of tasks that would benefit from automation.
- What should be automated first?
Tasks that are both simple and frequently done will show the fastest improvement after automation is implemented.