When it comes to process automation, the first thing that springs to mind is getting processes to be more efficient.
Whilst that is very true and, the time saved can be appropriated better in other parts of your business, improvements can also serve as really handy pieces of business intelligence that you can learn from.
Automation – Identifying the Bottlenecks
Businesses implement automation in order to streamline, and essentially help them to do what they do, better. Perhaps paperwork is being completed manually and re-entered through a database. Maybe it’s difficult to track how successful your lead generation is in a measurable way. Whatever the business feature is that is inefficient or in need of an overhaul, identifying what the bottlenecks in the process can indicate exactly what it is that should be automated.
It is this mindset for automation that creates a process whereby you discover small parts of your business that don’t quite work in the way you’ve envisaged. In fact, it is often only by researching your processes in granular detail like this that you can get a true overview of your infrastructure and processes. This should remove the assumption of a process being done a certain way because ‘it has always been this way’. It can also help you to discover that some processes aren’t as slick as you first thought.
With the right implementation, you can also reduce the core dependency of staff who manage these tasks, by ensuring their knowledge exists within the business and its operations, rather than being a closely guarded secret. With that, there’s no more need for a process to grind to a halt when somebody is away.
Efficiency – What Else?
Considering automation at it’s core shouldn’t just speed up processes, it should enhance them. With an automation mindset, businesses should not just be measuring potential for improved efficiency but potential for growth, too. Every instance in which automation is present should present a valid reason for a process for working in a specific way that makes business sense.
When well planned and implemented, autonomy can bring considerable business intelligence as its reward. Thanks to technology, real data exists that wasn’t necessarily in the business before. Reporting can then be carried out on this data, allowing valuable business decisions to be made. How are you really performing out on the frontline? Which stock isn’t selling effectively? The more process driven activity occurs within your business, the more you can undergo the process of refinement and iteration in order to improve things further. Not only that, but the labour time saved on inefficient processes can be reappropriated elsewhere to strengthen other areas.
Of course, with automation and refining your business processes, you will come up against different bottlenecks frequently as your business evolves. However, by leveraging automation, you will have an armoury of strong data about your business that can add some real value to decision making and business strategy moving forward.