When you automate business processes, you make it easy for your business to increase accountability and transparency.
Additionally, you boost the productivity of employees, reduce costs and get faster turnarounds.
In fact, automating routine processes or frequently recurring tasks can help your business improve efficiency.
And guess what? It could entail an easy process like creating an automated email follow-up or automating complex processes like approval workflows.
Either way, when you automate business processes, you get to improve accuracy, streamline operations and save time.
And according to a study by Salesforce, 74% of respondents said that process automation saved their workforce 11-30% of the time previously used for manual processes. Another 59% said it reduced costs by 11-30%.
Image via Salesforce
But getting an automation tool doesn’t guarantee success.
And to succeed, you need to leverage smart tactics that ensure easy adoption by key stakeholders and guarantee a return on investment.
6 smart ways to automate business processes
Slow manual processes can lead to delays in operations, numerous errors and high costs for your business. However, when you automate business processes, you reduce errors, aid collaboration and help employees concentrate on their main roles.
But which processes can you automate?
Areas where you can deploy business process automation include:
- Product development
- Human resources (HR)
- Inventory tracking
And now that you know areas where you can deploy it, here are tips on how to automate business processes the smart way.
1. Pinpoint areas needing automation
The first smart tactic you need to apply as you automate business processes is identifying tasks taking too much time and the results you wish to see. Doing this allows you to add automation where it delivers the most effective results.
But how do you identify these areas?
Hold a brainstorming session with all departments and identify opportunities to reduce their workload, minimize costs, and spark their creativity.
- List out time-consuming workflows that take up a majority of their time and repetitive or manual tasks
- List apps the company uses and find opportunities for them to communicate directly with each other
- Identify departments that often communicate with each other or share information from similar sources
- Find innovation opportunities or areas where automation can lead to creativity and growth
2. Set automation targets
It's very easy to get excited about your plan to automate business processes, and you may want to achieve too much in a short time.
However, this could be counterproductive. Instead, you should seek to ease into the process and achieve results in phases.
What does this mean?
Start with a few repetitive or frustrating tasks rather than diving all in when you automate business processes. Then, steadily review the success of each automation process as you add more of them to your strategy.
Otherwise, taking on too much at once can create overlaps or gaps that can derail your automation strategy.
3. Deploy automation tools
Although there are many tools you can use to automate business processes, you need to be careful with their selection.
For this reason, consider each department's needs, processes you can automate, and whether there are overlaps in usage.
Then, list out automation tools each department may need, especially those that different departments can use simultaneously.
These include tools that help you manage projects, social media, ecommerce, email marketing, accounting, etc.
Secondly, consider the learning curve of each tool and whether you can customize it to each department's needs.
4. Leverage artificial intelligence
Another smart way to automate business processes is by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI).
Changes in your processes can cause errors or breakdowns as automation works in a specific way. However, when you integrate artificial intelligence, you remove the need to pre-program everything and instead have systems that can adapt and improve over time.
But how can you use them?
Leverage machine learning solutions to make predictions based on available data or use artificial intelligence to predict issues that could crop up in your processes. Alternatively, use AI to optimize workflows and reduce the time teams spend on tasks.
5. Train employees
It's crucial to train users on how to use the tools as you automate business processes.
Have sessions where you explain the basics of the tools, the validation behind them and the results your business expects from their usage.
Additionally, choose user-friendly and intuitive software solutions so that teams can easily integrate them into their processes.
When you automate business processes, some roles may get swapped. You may also have some employees taking up more responsibilities while others get reassigned to other operations.
So, to ensure the smooth running of processes, you need to discuss these new responsibilities with the employees and communicate their roles.
6. Track automation success
To successfully automate business processes, you need people equipped with tools that perform the right tasks. Additionally, to thrive, you need to constantly measure, tweak and keep developing your processes.
Tracking the impact of automating your business's processes can help you understand what precisely improved and by how much.
But how do you track success?
Start by reviewing goals outlined when you decided to automate business processes and your key performance indicators related to those goals. Then, consider measuring metrics like:
- Efficiency metrics: Are there improvements in daily operations?
- Activity metrics: Have employees fully embraced the automation tools, and do they understand them?
- Value metrics: Are there any direct returns on investment you got from adopting automation? For example, expenses saved, reduced costs, etc.
It's therefore important to outline metrics you will track as you automate business processes. This way, you can not only work hard at improving efficiencies and cost but can also work smarter.
Are you ready to automate business processes?
When you automate business processes, you make it easy for your business to get started on the path to efficiency, happy customers, and growing revenue.
And by employing the smart strategies listed above, you can enable your employees to eliminate wasteful activities and focus on those that offer value.
So, examine areas that could be blocking your path to digital transformation and find ways to automate them.