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For businesses wanting to survive in ever more competitive markets, where technological solutions are changing faster than many businesses can keep pace with, it’s difficult to take advantage of the benefits of automating manual processes, because by the time a new software solution has been committed too, the technology has moved on. Under this frenetic pace of innovation, many business owners are becoming paralyzed by fears of making the wrong choices for investment.
The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.Bill Gates
The truth is, however, that staying abreast of innovation is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but is vital to competing with the early adopters in your niche who are reaching out to your audiences with automated marketing solutions or achieving operational efficiencies with automation of business processes which formerly involved greater staff time.
Whilst going through solution analysis paralysis, or seeing the risks of where other companies are failing, it is worth reminding yourself exactly why you are enduring the angst of seeking to automated elements of your daily business.
According to research undertaken by McKinsey, less than a quarter of organizational redesign projects are successful. Forty-four percent don’t complete and a third fails to meet business objectives or achieve improved performance after implementation.
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Settling for basic and cheap project or task management tools is the biggest mistake you can ever make. You get what you pay for. If you try to save a cent - you will lose a dollar. Wasted time (at $40/hour) is far more expensive than the cost of software. There's a huge difference between process management and project or task management. Processes relieve stress, make things predictable - and help you grow and become efficient. Projects and tasks are just ad-hoc, unpredictable chaos.
It's important to understand that context before you carry on reading. Successful people are smart enough to fundamentally change the way they work "right now" and amaze themselves and everyone else with new ideas. You can stop fighting uphill battles every day immediately - and drive more personal success in your career by introducing the modern way of creating, tracking and even enjoying tasks with your coworkers.
Anyway ... sorry for the interruption! Let's resume the rest of the article.
If you are a CTO, then, keeping a list of the benefits of automating manual processes in the forefront of your thinking will mean that you can persuade colleagues in procurement teams and your CEO of the value of your technical recommendations, despite the bumpy record of similar tech-based projects.
What follows is a closer look at why automating business processes needs an organizational mindset shift from viewing technological solutions as merely a future goal of current core business strategy.
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Don't use MS Word or Google Docs, and don't use flowcharts.
Documenting your processes using flowcharts might look pretty and nice – but you can’t run them. Even worse – nobody looks at flowcharts.SEE WHY HERE
#1: Your Teams Will Thank You
Automation of back-end processes frees up staff time. Apart from the obvious benefits of efficiencies achieved, staff released from mundane tasks can focus on more creative jobs or up-skilling. One of the most cited issues for employees seeking a new job outside of their current workplace is a lack of training and professional development. Enhanced job roles, where mind-numbing responsibilities are removed means improved job satisfaction for your teams. This fosters greater loyalty in staff, who feels valued, which in turn reduces staff turnover.
#2: Your Partners Will Trust You
Stability of employee resources consolidates in-house expertise and has the knock-on effect of building knowledge and experience within your company. Where customer facing staffs communicate with your customers, suppliers, investors, partners and other external stakeholders, their authority establishes you as an industry leader who can be relied upon for the best advice and service delivery.
This is particularly important where you are seeking any external business investors for scaling up elements of your business. Confidence in your organization’s competence and capacity for competitive longevity is more likely to seal any collaboration with you from potential investors.
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Anyway ... we'll continue from where we left off above.
#3: Virtuous Circle Benefits of Automating Manual Process
Remaining on the topic of business development and freeing up staff time, workers who have time to become pro-active, together with financial savings achieved from automating manual processes, means that you can push forward your Research and Development plans.
Success breeds success and when automation is part of this process, your investment in the efficiency building technology creates a virtuous circle with many other benefits to be accrued. Automation of daily routines means the focus can be shifted to strategic forward planning and even further innovation on the part of the senior staff, or operatives who may be more inspired to improve your business.
Overall, your company will go through a complete business process transformation.
#4: Building Resilience
Automation offers unexpected cost efficiencies, such as risk mitigation. The technology minimizes human error across a wide array of activity. For instance, recording data becomes more accurate, payroll mistakes will be minimized, and inventory management can become smoother, customer care management enhanced and so on. Minimizing risks associated with mistakes that are inevitable in inefficient processes and getting staff commitment to accept change and learn new processes builds in the resilience of your organization and builds confidence in your stakeholders.
Where mechanization of manual tasks involves investment in heavy machinery driven by sophisticated software is concerned, this minimizes health and safety risks faced by your company. One of the greatest threats to an SME is a costly insurance claim made by a former employee who has been the victim of outdated factory-floor or field-based processes.
Better quality control of products also means that potential losses incurred from wastage associated with poor quality of production or processing become negligible. Standardization of products and/or service provision is key benefits of automating manual processes.
This creates its own virtuous circle, where more accurate measuring of outputs, where there is like for like, means that more meaningful business insights can be achieved. Automation allows for greater accuracy in measuring results in new business processes, potentially adding value to the testing of new products or services.
#5: Customer Loyalty
Technology can add value in ways that your customer or clients will appreciate. Whether this becomes a better quality of product or service, positive customer experiences engender return sales and customer loyalty. Where your marketing processes are increasingly automated, this enhances the customer experience of your brand and inspires engagement.
Social media is the new digital referral system, where new audiences can read other customer reviews of your company’s offering and be inspired to find out what makes you the ‘go-to’ provider.
Both new audiences and return custom are vital to the longevity of your business. With the adoption of innovative business processes, you establish yourself as an industry leader because this inevitably makes products and services better for your customers.
The Future Is Now For Automation
One of the first steps to feeling the many benefits of automating manual processes is being prepared to make that business transforming leap of faith, based on sound research of your options, knowing that the technology provider you choose is professional enough to build in future proofing and risk mitigation into the solutions they offer.
The antidote to ‘paralysis by analysis’ of technological solutions to business challenges is to talk to your preferred tech provider about how they propose to ensure that the technology you are prepared to invest in will not become obsolete within a reasonable business cycle.
Many cloud-hosted software service providers, for instance, can guarantee that whatever changes come along in their industry, a software solution can be programmed in which will not create downtime disruptions, leave you open to risk of hacking or obsolescence, or leave you at the mercy of some other unforeseen limitation on your capacity to thrive in the future.
Waiting for the dust to settle in automation solutions leaves you at risk of your business folding because you have forgotten how important it is to take informed chances in your business. A business that fails to innovate is a business that will fail to stay ahead of their competitors.
The future is here. Your guarantee of reaping the benefits of automating your manual processes lies in a high-quality Service Level Agreement (SLA) with your technology provider. When researching your options to innovate and make technical efficiencies, a key consideration for any business aside from how fantastic the new widget is, is how well you will be served after buying.
Look for companies providing solutions who have a strong reputation for excellent after service and an SLA that protects you against future change. If a company’s automation impacts look likely to provide measurable ROI, then it’s time to make the switch.