5 Ways to Automate Your Business
Every business leader should know the difference between busy work and productive work. The latter lets the employees focus on producing profits for the company and are also more satisfying.
And to be honest, most workers would prefer to do productive work rather than doing meaningless busywork. Business Process Automation (BPA) is how companies transfer all busy work to machines and empower the employees to focus on problem-solving and other essential tasks.
BPA is software that also includes mechanical technologies such as robotics. This can be a standalone software package or it can be integrated with other software as part of the features. The goal is to complete the manual and repetitive processes with minimal to no human intervention.
It is often a subset of Business Process Management (BPM) suites, which in turn can be a component of infrastructure management.
Many people use the terms BPA and BPM interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing. BPA majorly focuses on how automation can streamline business processes, and BPM uses various methods to discover model, analyze, change and optimize end-to-end business processes.
Why Automate Business Processes?
All businesses want to do more with less workforce. BPA makes it possible to perform more and more work with few people and free up the time for people to create new products, become more innovative, and generate profits.
BPA also adds money and time-saving efficiencies, decrease human errors, and leverages company resources and assets.
So, here are five ways to automate your business-
There are several options for automating various processes in your company. Often, BPA is a feature or function included in commercial software. Sometimes it’s a standalone product, and sometimes it’s one of a series of modules in a larger software suite. Other times, automation is something your own or third-party developers craft specifically for your company.
But however you choose to use BPA, here are keys to make it work for you:
There are many automation tools in the market to automate your business processes. Usually, they are bifurcated by the purpose they solve or the amount of IT skill required to use them, and whether they are general process or cognitive AI tools.
General-process, no-coding-required automation tools include social media, workflow and project management, ecommerce, and marketing.
Companies should look at automation tools that don’t require coding skills just to make sure that the interface is usable by non-techies. Also, ensure that processes are transparent such that your team can dictate and understand how the system intends to accomplish a task.
AI and Machine Learning
Machine learning systems typically look at lots of data and learn from it. The difference between ML looks at existing data and learns from how to spot outliers. Whereas, AI is that artificial intelligence ups the ante by adding context. Automate invoices for September fuel purchases if the amounts fall within expected parameters.
The best way for small businesses is to adopt commercial software that has optimized processes pre-automated for you. It is not important to make a software when you know an exiting software can help you and is available in a convenient software-as-a-service model.
Streamline Communication and Task Management
This is all about project management. As we’ve discussed, automation is about offloading time-consuming and repetitive tasks from a human to a machine—and not many project tasks are more repetitive than assigning job tickets and sending regular status updates. Automation can eliminate duplication of effort among production teams, now often operating from multiple locations, including those working from home.
So, for example, a project manager could specify that when a graphic proof is checked into a document management system, a ticket is automatically generated to have an approver take a look. That saves an artist from manually requesting a review, or worse, sending an email.
Or take ERP. Any business with more than a few employees benefits from a tighter connection between its operational and financial data and functions. And the more automated those links, the better. That’s the idea behind cloud-based enterprise resource planning.
Create a Culture of Automation in the Office
Culture is more likely to derail an automation initiative than technology. Executives need to reassure staff that automating business processes is meant to make their work easier—not to replace them. When people understand that their jobs aren’t at risk, they’re more likely to adopt new processes and even help identify needed improvements in traditional processes.
In any case, to be successful, you’ll need everyone’s cooperation. Resistance may be futile, but it is also often destructive. Work on people matters early on in your automation plans.
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