The way respectable entrepreneurs are talking about the implementation of technology to everyday processes, one would believe that automation is some kind of magical formula for all of our problems, be they big or small, unsurmountable or merely challenging. And though no automation is bad on its own, some practices for introducing BPA systems to the office are not very helpful at all.
It’s like Bill Gates said: “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”.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of expert tips that will help you automate your business in the most efficient way.
1. Plan Ahead for the Switch
Just because modern times and available technologies allow you to automate virtually every part of your business, it still doesn’t mean that you should. Some projects are better off executed manually, so make sure you’ve assessed them all beforehand. Make a list, count your challenges, and start looking for the automation tool that’s been designed to tackle the problems you’re currently facing.
2. Understand the Process You’re Automating
Keep the Bill Gates quote in mind and make sure that the process you’re automating is efficient enough in the first place. If you end up automating something that doesn’t actually contribute to your everyday performance and long-term progress, it will only be a waste of your time, money, and effort.
3. Use Automation to Solve Specific Problems
Is your interdepartmental communication a bit off? Is there a recurring discrepancy that you cannot seem to trace and pinpoint? Do some of the tasks continually disrupt the entire dependency chain? Or, is it simply a case of poor social media marketing management? Whatever it is that causes friction, automate it first. If the results improve after a while, you’ll know exactly what to do with other issues.
4. Start Simple and Build Gradually
Nearly everything in business can be put to autopilot, but no automation can be implemented over night. Because the entire process requires money and time, most companies start by automating those dull, uninspiring tasks such as administration, data entry, or document flow. It’s a good way to test if the BPA tool truly works or not, so start simple and build an entire autopilot system from there.
5. Let Your Team Test and Implement New Solutions
The entire point of automation is to boost everyday productivity and thus help increase efficiency across the board. The best business process automation tools are thus the ones that guarantee ease of use to all employees, whether they are tech savvy or not. That’s why every solution has to be tested before implemented, and why you should opt for BPA vendors that offer free demos and trial periods.
6. Help Your Team with Adopting
Never rush software adoption. With most user-friendly tools, the initial adoption period doesn’t last longer than two weeks, after which your employees should be fully accustomed to using automation. Additional trainings are required for every new feature, integration, or update, so make sure to count these potential delays in while establishing a timeframe for each task, project, process, and quarter.
7. Calculate the ROI of Automation
But it’s not only the time needed for employees to get used to the automation tool that should be calculated in advance. In order to make sure that automation makes sense for a chosen process or area of work, estimate both the time and the cost savings that automation guarantees and compare that to the time and cost of the automation itself. The ROI you’ll come up with needs to be worthwhile.
8. Consider the Security Risks of Automation
In case every aspect of your business has been manual thus far, which is highly unlikely in today’s digital age, the newly adopted automation technology will require you to have a proper cyber safety protocol in place. Most BPA tools come with enterprise-grade security systems, but talk to your vendor about it just in case. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so be prepared to handle cyberattacks.
9. Don’t Settle for the First Vendor
Don’t pick an automation vendor before you’ve explored all options. The tool of your choice needs to be able to solve specific problems that you’re dealing with, to match the size and model of your company, and to be seamless to implement and use. Carefully assess all that’s available, comb through community forums for objective use cases and advice, and opt for solution that guarantees high ROI.
10. Think Long Term
Apart from everything mentioned before, a reliable business process automation tool needs to be scalable as well. Pick something that will be able to grow with your company and to adopt to future changes in your development process. Thinking in long-term, agile solutions make the most sense.
The truth is, the benefits of automation tools depend on your ability to properly implement them to your operations. Many solutions available on the market are so well-built that they simplify the entire process, but that still doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared if you’re expecting stellar results.