Are you still working with clunky software and cumbersome spreadsheets? Chances are, you likely have several manual processes within your company that are slowing you down and causing pain points across the organization.

Before you automate manual business processes, it’s important to understand how to approach this effort strategically. Today, we’ll talk about the “why” behind process automation and share some general best practices for process improvement and ultimately, automation.

Benefits of Process Automation

Here are some positive changes you can expect around your workplace when you transition from manual-based to automated processes.

1. Improve Employee Morale​

By automating your business processes, you free up team members who would otherwise have been stuck on repetitive tasks. Now, they have time to focus on more fulfilling tasks that were pushed aside before.

In time, they become more efficient, well-rounded employees. They’ll be more willing to embrace higher roles, learn new skills, and devote their loyalty to the company. Morale can drag when systems and workflows are slow, but the opposite happens when they are automated.

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2. Work Any Time, from Anywhere​

Have you ever wished you could complete a critical task, but you didn’t have access to the office? With automation, employees can work from any device, at any time, as long as they have the proper connectivity.

This makes them more flexible, efficient, and productive. They can also work more proactively, taking care of tasks before the last minute to lessen stress about impending deadlines.

3. Reduce the Risk of Human Error

If you’re relying on manual-based workflows, employees are the ones handling your most important data entries and calculations. Even if they’re highly experienced and trained, the reality is that mistakes can happen. It becomes more difficult to get everything right when there are multiple people working on the job at once.

Something as small as transposing one number can have detrimental consequences. This isn’t a business risk that any organization wants to tackle. By automating those processes, you can reduce or even eliminate this vulnerability.

4. Make Smarter Business Decisions

Your business handles a lot of data daily. Are you using it to your advantage, mining it for insights that can help you make better, more informed decisions?

Today, you can find business automation systems that leverage the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve data management techniques. These systems can provide users with customized dashboard views that show them insights into their business in real-time.

These insights can be used to make smart decisions about the company’s future. When you know where you are and where you’ve been, it’s easier to plan where you want to go.

How to Automate Manual Business Processes the Right Way​

By taking the time to lay the groundwork early, you can set your teams up for success when it’s time to get started automating your business processes. Here are a few steps to help you get there. ​

1. Identify Your Core Functional Areas​

If you’re committed to automation, you might be eager to start daydreaming about all the ways it can change your workplace. This might include cost savings you think you’ll generate once you start replacing roles with robots.

While this is exciting to think about, most companies still need human intervention to function successfully. Instead of analyzing org charts and thinking about swaps and substitutions, take a step back.

Identify the core, functional areas of your organization that can benefit the most from automation. Which areas will require business process reengineering? This might include your sales team, project managers or customer service representatives.

2. Understand the Roles​

How well do you understand the roles you’re trying to improve with automation? You need to clearly define how each workflow happens, including which tasks are required and who is responsible for each one.

Create standard operating procedures (SOP) documents for each process. For automation to work, you must understand what steps need to occur and which actions you must take. Employees in each department can help create the SOPs, as they will have the closest working knowledge about their roles.

3. Explore Repetitive Tasks

Once you know the core functional areas you want to improve with automation, break it down even more. Think about which jobs within those areas are routine and repetitive.

You’ll uncover employee pain points, as well as repetitive workflows that put your company at risk.

To find repetitive tasks, start by reviewing the SOPs that your employees have created.

4. Prioritize Key Areas​

By this point, you’ll likely have a long list of repetitive tasks that automation could support and improve. Looking at the list, you might feel stuck in place, unsure where to start.

Prioritize areas you want to automate. Think about which areas will see the biggest operational improvements. Which ones will have the greatest impact on your customers?

Rank each process based on the benefits you expect it to provide to your workforce, clients, and overall business.

5. Consider a Larger Digital Transformation

To derive the most benefits from process automation, consider implementing these systems as part of a larger digital transformation. ERP software and business process automation (BPA) software can help you design and automate your processes.

Look for systems that will support your transformation, such as ERP, SCM or CRM systems to automate in-house and client-facing activities. Collectively, these systems can make work easier, faster, and more profitable.

Learn More About Business Process Automation​

You don’t have to overhaul your entire business structure to see major changes within your workplace. If you’ve found that your teams are growing sluggish along with your systems, the workflows you’re following could be to blame.

When you automate manual business processes, you transform your company and allow employees to be as productive as possible. This improves morale, brand reputation, customer satisfaction, and your bottom line. The key is to approach each step intentionally, with the future in mind.

Interested in learning more about how it works? Contact one of our ERP consultants below to connect.

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