From employee experience to customer experience and the technologies you can use to improve them, here's why you should get started with process automation.
There are hundreds if not thousands of processes that need to happen in order to keep your organization running, and your employees are responsible for managing them as efficiently as possible. Today’s automation technology allows you to not only automate the manual work holding your company (and employees) back and free up time, but it optimizes your processes for a competitive advantage.
Process automation examples
Bringing on a new hire. Updating your company’s website. Invoicing customers. Solving client issues. These are just a few examples of areas where your company has established formal processes to keep business operations running smoothly. Some of these processes are predictable and repetitive, happening daily, weekly, quarterly, etc., while others are unpredictable, triggered as a result of some other event.
But when it comes to these processes, the old adage, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” doesn’t apply. It’s not enough to get something done if your competitors can do it faster. Consider these three examples of how you can benefit from automating manual processes.
- Provide a higher level of customer support. How quickly you solve your customers’ problems is critical. Automation technology can handle various time-consuming tasks associated with your support process, from routing customer questions and issues to the correct team to sending follow up emails to ensure the issue is handled error-free.
- Hire the best talent. So much of your recruiters’ time is spent on manual tasks that keep them away from connecting with candidates. Automation technology can be used for resume parsing to serve up only qualified candidates, help schedule interviews, generate documents, and more.
- Get paid faster. You rely on the efficiency of your accounting team to keep your business out of the red. Invoice processes are tedious, involving multiple people and systems. With automation technology, you can send invoices from vendors and suppliers and even push data to your payment software automatically.
Employee and customer benefits of automated processes
Both your employees and customers are impacted by your company’s operations in various ways.
The employee experience
We’ve come a long way from the early days of automation when employees feared that robots would take their jobs. In a Catalytic survey, 93% of respondents believe automation will make their jobs easier. Today’s automation solutions elevate the employee experience and give your team new opportunities to grow and thrive.
First, it helps them to develop digital skills. The growing use of automation software is just one example of how technology is rapidly changing the way businesses operate. Gaining experience working alongside automation will help employees learn the right skills to future-proof their careers.
Second, today’s employees want to be engaged in and empowered by their work. Automation technology allows you to eliminate many of the manual tasks that keep your employees from being strategic contributors to your business.
The customer experience
Like we’ve already shared above, automation technology can help your team better address your customer issues. Yet even in areas of your business that aren’t customer-facing, automated processes can still have a positive impact on your clients.
Having efficient processes makes it easier for your customers to do business with you. From a retailer who keeps customers updated on the status of their orders, to a staffing firm who pays its workers on time, there are endless ways that automation technology can create better experiences for your customers.
Automated processes also play a huge role in bringing in those customers in the first place. You set the stage for how your customers will be treated during the initial sales process. You can use automation tools to reach out to prospects with special relevant offers and even send welcome gifts to brand new customers.
The types of technology used to automate manual processes
There’s no one-size-fits-all automation strategy. Choosing automation technology and deciding which processes to automate and when will be different for each organization. First of all, there are multiple types of technology that can be used to automate manual processes.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools automate specific tasks in their process workflow. The tasks best suited for RPA are structured, repetitive, and rules-based. Examples include migrating data over from one system to another and processing payroll every two weeks.
While RPA is often the first step on a company’s automation journey, it’s far from the last. Digital Process Automation (DPA) tools allow you to extend automation from tasks to entire end-to-end process workflows. They differentiate from RPA tools by looping in your employees as well.
Beyond these, hyperautomation is the newest evolution of automation. This is the top tech trend of 2020 and it’s all about combining all of the existing automation technologies with powerful artificial intelligence (AI) tools, advanced analytics, and more.
How do you get started with process automation?
Just like the tools you use, how you roll out your automation strategy is unique to each organization. It usually begins in the department with the biggest need for better processes or those business units or parts of your company with strong, tech-driven leadership looking to drive change. Once you select a technology partner and establish where you’ll begin your automation journey, following these four steps will get you well on your way to automating your manual processes.
- Select processes to automate. This starts with assessing your processes to ensure you select the right pilot projects. Some characteristics that make certain processes a good fit for automation are time-consuming, tedious, high-volume, repetitive, consistent in outcome, and resource heavy. Each process should also be assessed for measurable impact, risk, and the estimated value that automating them could bring to your company.
- Build stakeholder support. You can’t underestimate the value of stakeholder support, especially for an initiative like this that will significantly impact your employees and their daily duties. Companies who have successfully rolled out automation throughout their organization have been able to do so by marketing their early wins and getting other employees excited to participate.
- Create a Center of Excellence (COE). Setting up a defined governance model for your automation initiatives is critical to keeping your projects on track. The COE typically includes an owner/champion, HR representation, business analysts, automation builders, and an IT resource for technical needs.
- Manage change continuously. There will inevitably be employees who are resistant to the changes brought on by automation. To overcome this, it’s important to set a project vision, develop a skill training program, and establish formal channels for communication and to ask for and receive employee feedback.