Automate without analysis and you could be missing out
by George Davies, CEO, MooD International
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
It goes without saying that new technologies have had a great impact on the workplace and how businesses function at an operational level. The use of automation software and cloud computing are reducing the need for low-cost operatives to carry out business processes. But is automation really contributing to long-term business growth or effective decision-making?
Business process automation is the technology-enabled automation of activities. It is a way to streamline operational processes, by eliminating unnecessary tasks, realigning steps and, crucially, optimising information flow. With the relevant automation system, a company is not only in a position to reduce staff workload, so they are freed from menial activities to focus on critical tasks, but maintain the quality of operations at very low costs.
Although the adoption of automation is widespread in the business world, fewer companies invest in business intelligence to generate the data required to make smart decisions. This means business leaders are not basing their decisions on up-to-date business critical data, but on often out of date reports. They are driving while looking in the rear view mirror.
One of the benefits of automation is that data capturing can be automatic. When analysed this data can offer previously unseen insight into business operations such as identifying opportunity gaps or bottlenecks in business flow.
While business automation can save time and money, businesses are often failing to identify its real impact on stakeholders such as employees, customers and the company’s reputation. It can sometimes have unintended consequences.
For instance, a telecoms company may decide to use automated answering machines that are able to deal with customer queries. They would save money on call centre staff, but if this change results in a more negative experience for the customers, it may actually hinder the business from achieving its overarching business objectives if customers choose to take their business elsewhere.
Business process automation should focus on business outcomes and how the automated, often outsourced, parts fit into the end-to-end business process. Equally important is recognising what not to automate or outsource depending on the impact on employees or customers.
Critically, automation’s success lies in its ability to understand and communicate how the different parts of the business interact and affect each other using the data generated. Automation without the ability to communicate to different parts of the business could negate whatever efficiency was gained.
By tying metrics to business outcomes and strategic business objectives, it is possible to provide businesses with access to evidence where automation and outsourcing partners are adding value to the business. Analysis such as this is a crucial part of the process.