You may be reading this and wondering if we are going to talk about all the nice and hype words on automation. No, we won’t. For that we’ll set the table first on the acronyms and their meaning and go for what matters for your business.
Robotic process automation or RPA may sound a bit tricky but it is in fact simple and can easily become familiar to you.
Process automation is not new; most systems today offer workflows and alerts triggered by business conditions so you can focus on what is important or benefit from actions triggered automatically. So, if that isn't news, what’s all the hype around automation?
To illustrate the new perspective around automation, let’s see this from a technological and process standpoint.
Process and Technology
The business needs to monitor process effectiveness, either in customer service responses, manufacturing machinery outputs and problems, and inventory issues, or the ability to break process silos by establishing logic flows, have always been highly present in many industry verticals.
From a technological standpoint, there were limitations, and progress brought about pieces of the puzzle to connect machines to systems, or establish workflows making it easier to bring automation to life in a simple way by simply looking at your business rules and what you want to accomplish with it.
Technology adoption is generally effective when it solves a problem and brings added value which is evident, and not only subjective. Also, what cannot be measured cannot be improved. So, if we focus on business pains and performance with the new automation tool sets available, then we have a fairly easy case to defend.
How to Apply Automation to Operations?
From a business perspective, automation is useful to improve productivity, accuracy, customer experience, scaleability; it also facilitates integration across platforms. It may seem large at first, but this is inherent to how we view automation capabilities: how we wish our annoying disparate processes and broken flows could work better.
If we think about productivity, current technology can allow us to capture how a production line output runs by connecting machines to IoT devices, and feeding a database that analyzes data—with added logic and business rules, and a few machine learning capabilities—to produce valuable information for improving processes, setting machines up, and minimizing production disruptions in a proactive fashion.
Examples are endless in terms of productivity for automation. The current labour market is scarce, and we need to make sure our human resources are performing value-added tasks and not entering multiple manual, repetitive tasks prone to human error, which can push them to leave. For instance, accounts payable (AP) automation can foster the adoption of automated solutions by avoiding entering multiple invoices, perform repetitive tasks or manage contracts manually. The benefits can be perceived almost instantly.
Obviously, accuracy comes along. The more we reinforce the process steps by applying logic and business rules through automation, the more accurate our results and numbers will be.
It is important to note here how critical it is to choose the right processes to automate. The idea is to deliver a fluid and optimized process without creating locks for the added value we expect from the people involved in those processes. Automation should not be there to tamper people’s talents and contribution but to highlight them instead.
From a customer experience standpoint, I trust you saw robots in ads, and sometimes you find annoying the pop-ups in various websites asking how they can help you in your operations.
Well, this is because they are poorly deployed. Bots, like they are commonly called, should be great tools, useful mainly for the end user, not for the company deploying it.
A common mistake in the deployment of customer experience solutions is that the deployment approach is not centered around the customer’s needs but rather in the company’s.
So, back to the bots. They can prove useful if the client gets the response they are looking for, mainly outside of business hours, and your company gets the information required to support that client quickly and efficiently. For that, it is only a matter of establishing a persona, a typical case to resolve and apply the proper logic, so that the bot and its machine learning capabilities can perform their job handsomely.
From a scaleability standpoint, RPA tools should be able to easily grow according to your needs. Automation has virtually no limits, and your automation capabilities should follow your ambitions with no need to add satellite systems or solutions as you evolve.
Business Strategy Comes First to Automation Strategy
You may be wondering where to start with all this or how to make this nice word called automation bring value to your business reality.
First, you need to set your vision for your processes and how they should be performed or reinforced. Now, think only about how a process step can be automated, and how the process flow can be simplified or reinforced by applying logic and business rules.
Second, you should break down each sub-process to guarantee consistency in each context, but also review the bigger picture as your process is consolidated to avoid conflicting rules, making the automation inefficient and cumbersome.
So, in a nutshell, automation is not a complicated or out-of-reach new technology trend but a true realization of an optimal and integrated process flow, with the benefit of not locking in process steps, but rather bringing them to the efficiency level which may differentiate your operation and your business before your customers.
Createch can help you in this journey by discovering with you the opportunities you have with automation, establishing a roadmap, and either implementing it or training your team to take it from there, and evolving to the automation level suitable to your needs as your business grows and changes.
Come to think of it, considering Createch as the best team to advise you through this is just… automatic! Don't hesitate to contact us to start your project!