Process automation isn’t a fix-all for everything, and it’s not necessarily appropriate in every situation. When used in the right instance, however, automation can help you avoid doing double the work, saving you both time and money in the process. When determining whether process automation is a good fit, there are four main areas that must be taken into consideration. Let’s take a closer look at each of these key factors.
1 – What task are you considering automating?
There are ultimately three driving forces behind the decision to automate: repetition, simplicity and need. If there are particular tasks that are performed repetitively – especially those that don’t require much human input or a high degree of variation – chances are you can turn them over to technology. Likewise, if there is a clear business need for introducing process automation into a certain process or workflow, doing so can improve performance and efficiency, making it well worth it. In other words, look for tasks that are relatively straightforward, occur frequently and repetitively, and present a legitimate opportunity for improvement.
2 – What software, systems and data will be required?
Once you’ve determined what tasks you’d like to automate, the next step is figuring out which systems and software products will allow you to achieve this goal most effectively, and at what cost. If you’re looking for something simple, like data entry automation, the options will be many. More complex processes and workflows will obviously require more robust technology. Additionally, you will also need to consider which other systems will need to be integrated into the process so that you can determine compatibility before making a final decision.
3 – Do you possess the bandwidth and adequate skill sets to get the job done?
What type of impact will process automation have on the proposed task and is it worth it? If there’s just one person handling the manual, repetitive duty, perhaps it’s not worth the investment of time, money and other resources to introduce an advanced automation product. On the other hand, if there are dozens, hundreds or even thousands of workers churning out the same task, over and over, automation can present a truly beneficial solution by boosting efficiency and improving overall output. You’ll also need to determine whether those charged with implementing an automation tool possess the right skill sets to get the job done right.
4 – Will it help or hurt you in the long run?
When done right, and under the appropriate circumstances, process automation should make life easier for yourself and your team. To the contrary, if automation does nothing but create more processes, the end result can sometimes become more complicated and burdensome. The best approach is to weigh the risks and benefits, and take the process one step at a time. Automate one or two simple tasks, and then build from there until you’ve successfully taken advantage of the true value of automation. Remember, the goal is not necessarily to reach 100% automation, but rather to optimize processes to make them most effective for the business.