With advances in technology and the widespread acceptance of automated systems, the list of reasons to automate business processes is growing each year.
That said, many businesses are still reluctant to automate some or all of their processes. Some are hesitant to take on a perceived additional cost, while others are simply reluctant to shake things up when their current systems appear to be “working.” The adage, “If it aint broke, dont fix it,” comes to mind.
However, the benefits of automating business processes (like accounts payable, for example) have become so powerful that they simply cannot go ignored any longer. We’ve created this list to open your eyes to the many reasons your company should consider automating its business systems.
Whatever your reasoning may be for avoiding it this long, we hope the following information will influence you to optimize your day-to-day operations and secure your long-term success.
9 Powerful Reasons To Automate Your Business Processes
1. Immediate and Long-Term Cost Reduction
One of the main reasons many businesses have yet to automate business processes is cost. They view the additional technology investment as an additional cost that needs to be justified in their budget.
You’ll be happy to know that this justification (and buy in) typically comes quite easily.
Mainly because that additional technology investment dramatically improves the efficiency of that business process being automated. That increased efficiency translates to significant savings in reduced labor costs, errors, etc.
You’ll never need to hire additional employees to handle the time-consuming, low-level work that can otherwise be automated. Furthermore, less time and resources will be spent training and managing those people.
The boosted efficiency that comes with automated processes also means that you’ll be accomplishing more with less. We’ll go deeper into how automating business processes improves productivity later in this article, but for now know this: Being able to accomplish more in less time results in reduced costs in any and all automated business processes.
2. Improved Speed and Efficiency
Many business processes are multi-step and require a significant amount of time to complete. Automating business processes allows each of these steps to be completed in a fraction of the time, and often they can be completed in bulk.
All of the typing, copy and pasting, and other manual unstructured inputs are handled for you. In processes that require human interaction or approvals, automation allows these tasks to be streamlined and completed in greater quantities as well.
Rather than paying someone to spend eight hours of their day to accomplish their tasks, consider whether much of their work can be automated and completed in minutes. The same person can then be charged with the completion of far more work each day when they are able to automate business processes to their advantage.
All of this time savings can then be directly applied to other areas of your business and your customers.
3. Employees Focus on Adding Value
While we’re on the subject or reallocating resources, automating business processes frees up employee time that can be better spent providing value to the rest of your organization and to your customers.
Allowing your people to focus on the aspects of your business where they provide the most value makes for a better use of their time, a more engaged workforce, and the best return on your investment in your team.
What’s more is that your team can focus on continually optimizing each of the processes that are automated in order to continue improving efficiency. More time spent working on the processes, rather than in them, means continually improving the end result.
Automation also means that your people and your business can focus on core competencies, allowing you to deliver the value to your customers that has allowed it to reach this point in the first place.
The reduction of menial tasks trickles all the way up to the highest levels of your organization. The more you automate business processes, the more efficient and effective your organization becomes across the board.
4. Improved Accuracy (Fewer Errors)
Humans are prone to errors. No matter how streamlined your processes are or how diligent the employee, mistakes happen. Furthermore, the additional steps required by traditional business processes present more opportunities for mistakes to be made. Each mistake then requires a revision of each of the subsequent steps.
Errors are costly, both in the time of the people and resources invested in your various processes and to the cost of those resources. Not to mention the delays caused by such mistakes.
Automation software, by nature, doesn’t make such mistakes. They aren’t affected by internal miscommunication or slow cycle times, which means that costly revisions and redundant actions are virtually eliminated. With automation, the need for manual data entry is dramatically reduced, therefore dramatically reducing the opportunity for error.
5. Business Processes Defined and Streamlined
One of the most important reasons to automate business processes is that doing so provides you with an opportunity to clearly define each process, as well as how to streamline them for efficiency.
When implementing automation, efforts are made to break down each step of a particular process. During that time you’ll be able to determine if each step is the most efficient way of accomplishing the desired results or if they’re even required at all.
6. Improved Employee Experience
Most companies automate business systems that are typically carried out by highly capable employees that are stuck performing repetitive tasks. When you consider that job dissatisfaction is one of the greatest factors in employee turnover, you can see how automating business processes can be used to improve the employee experience.
If you don’t think high turnover rates are a major problem, think again. The average cost to replace an $8/hour employee is $5,500! That number jumps quickly if you’re losing more advanced positions to job dissatisfaction.
When you automate business processes you eliminate much of the dreary, repetitive tasks that your otherwise capable employees were once charged with. Instead, they are prompted to focus on far more engaging tasks that make better use of their unique skill set, allowing them to leave the office fulfilled each day rather than dreading more of the monotony.
7. Increased Scalability
One of the less mentioned advantages of automating business processes is scalability. When every aspect of your process needs to be done manually, new employees need to be hired to accommodate growth or relieved during slow periods.
When you automate business processes, many of the time-consuming and otherwise tedious manual tasks are eliminated, allowing the process to be scaled on a much greater level with a far smaller impact on personnel requirements.
8. Improved Reliability
Another important reason to automate business processes is the increase in reliability. Automation tools aren’t subject to the same issues as their human counterparts. They don’t get sick, they don’t miss days, they don’t get overloaded, and they don’t operate at suboptimal levels due to outside influences. This makes it virtually impossible for them to leave tasks undone or deliver less than required to keep things running smoothly.
The types of business processes that are typically automated are those that provide a foundation for many of your other personnel to do their jobs. When you automate business processes, you’re working to ensure that those processes support the rest of your operations under any circumstances. Each task is performed with identical precision and yields quality, reliable results.
9. Increased Visibility (Easier to Track and Optimize)
The more streamlined and standardized your processes become, the more insights you’ll be able to glean about their performance. The more you can track your processes, the more likely you’ll be able to make regular improvements.
These types of regular optimizations are what allow you to remain relevant in your industry and competitive in a quickly evolving marketplace. After all, sustaining success is dependant on the implementation of a superior strategy and superior strategies are those that are continually being updated based on current performance data.
Automating business processes puts more data at your fingertips with workflow dashboards, allowing you to make optimizations to said processes on the fly and measure performance just as easily.
5 Best Practices to Automate Business Processes
At this point it’s pretty easy to see that automating business processes is a smart move for nearly any business looking for a way to streamline their operations. Now that we’ve helped you understand the ways you stand to benefit, let’s go over some best practices to help you automate your business practices most effectively.
1. Establish Clear Goals
One of the most important aspects of effective business process automation is understanding why you’re doing it. Be sure to clearly define what you hope to accomplish by automating a task. Not only that you want make said process easier or more efficient, but how that will translate to other areas of your operations.
2. Start with One
You may be eager to jump into the deep end and start automating business processes left and right. Rather than taking on the changes of automating your entire operation, start with a single process and work your way up.
You’ll be able to gather valuable insights about how to automate future processes every time you implement a new automation tool. Unless you have professional help, start with a lesser internal process and work your way toward more critical, client-facing processes. Also, the less manual input required to complete each process, the better a candidate it is for early automation.
3. Measure Your Results
Be sure to track the results of your business process automation efforts. Measure key metrics that tell you about how much you’ve been able to improve efficiency or increase your deliverables.
Because automating business processes requires an upfront investment, it’s important to be able to report what your return on that investment looks like. Measure your results from the beginning as a way to determine where optimizations should be made or even if you’re using the right tool for the job.
4. Get Your People Involved
While you automate business processes to remove people from certain tasks, everything ties back the the people your automation tools are supporting. By getting those that work in the process involved in its automation early on you’ll be able to streamline the transition period.
Have them support the development of your goals, test and vet different tools, and give their input in the final decision. The more involved they are in the selection process, the more eager they’ll be to support its implementation and continual optimization as you move forward with your automation plans.
Also, be sure to invest in proper training to make sure your people are able to make the highest and best use of your new tool. Ensure they know how to use it most effectively and understand the full scope of its features in order to ensure you’re getting the most from your automation investment.
5. Always Be Improving
You’ll never be able to automate business processes perfectly upon your initial implementation. Even if you were able to, systems evolve and updates need to be made. By tracking your results closely (Best Practice #3), you’ll be able to determine which areas need improvements and test how to go about making them.
If you’re ready to automate your business processes, be sure to explore our full range of simplified automation tools. By automating accounts payable, for example, many of our customers see a 60% reduction in invoice processing costs
If you’re not quite sure where to begin, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experts for support. We’ll help you to clearly define your needs and advise you on the best ways to go about meeting them.