Repetitive tasks are the target of many strategies for digitally transforming a business.
When decision makers discuss options for implementing digital solutions, it’s typically centered around improving productivity and competitiveness.
To achieve this, automation can be implemented, and the increasing affordability of automative technology is making it a lot easier for SMBs to adopt.
McKinsey estimates that in 60% of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated.
Most SMB decision makers will be all-too-familiar with the hassle of streamlining their departments and attempting to keep costs down to a minimum, so automation is an essential tool for in today’s business environment.
If you’re considering automation but are unsure on how exactly it can help, then this blog is for you.
The Costs of Not Automating Your Business
Today we’re going to be taking a look at how repetitive tasks are a money drain for small and midsize businesses and how automation can help put your resources to much better use.
Common manual processes, like using spreadsheets instead of accounting apps; using paper-based systems; and handwritten data, can cost a fortune.
They are often left unresolved by decision makers because of a “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Perhaps processes are not broken, but can they be improved drastically? Absolutely.
A study found that 22% of an employee’s time is spent on repetitive tasks. Over the course of a year, imagine how much money is wasted by workers spending time on manual tasks that can now be automated.
1. Human Error
Whether we like it or not, human error is a certainty in business processes. It doesn’t matter how good an employee is, there will be mistakes from time to time.
There may be a misread piece of data or a wrong key hit, humans are susceptible to lapses that automated systems simply aren’t.
For example, implementing a fully automated system for shipping means that you can drastically reduce the chances of a misprinted label.
In instances of human error, you must also factor in the lost time fixing it. Through automation, you can help ensure that preventable mistakes are kept to an absolute minimum and substantially improve your bottom line.
A whopping 50% of business processes will be fully automated by 2022, compared to around 30% today
2. Reduced Productivity
Put simply, if an employee is spending time doing a job that could easily be automated, it’s money down the drain in today’s world.
While you’re paying a full-time employee to input data into a spreadsheet, your competitor has already automated that process and is completing it quickly and at a reduced overall cost.
Time spent on repetitive jobs would be better spent on more complex tasks where the worker is needed.
An HR worker, for example, might be spending all day inputting employee benefit data manually.
With automation, tedious jobs like these can be alleviated and HR staff can instead focus their energies on more skilled labor where they’re needed like employee training or education.
3. Increased Labor Costs
This is number one for many small and midsize businesses.
If there’s a job that can be easily automated and you’re paying a member of staff to complete it, then you’re wasting your money and their time.
This is even more pertinent when you consider that mistakes can and will be made, which can mean that staff have to go back and re-do a task they’ve already spent time on.
Automation allows you to reduce the necessary staff to a particular task, reducing cost and improving profitability.
You can then use the staff who are freed up and have them do something that is a better use of their time.
Take device provisioning, for example. If your IT staff are spending inordinate amounts of time preparing and provisioning laptops and PCs, that’s time spent on a task that can be easily automated.
Low-level tasks eat up 30% of IT departments’ time
4. Unpredictable Workflows
Automating workflows creates a clear structure, a sense of routine within your business, and establishes accountability.
Manual reporting processes have of course worked in the past, but for SMBs, especially midsize businesses, this can be difficult to monitor over time, and in any case manual reporting can be very time-consuming.
Digitizing your workflows helps project managers use software to prioritize assignments within their teams far more quickly.
Workers can instantly report updates on projects they’re working on—or have software report automatically. Either way, it quickens workflows and gives far better insight than before.
5. Compliance Risks
This would typically be considered as part of implementing digital solutions to remove human error, but compliance is such a huge issue for SMBs that it deserves its own mention.
As any business owner will know, staying on the right side of compliance is crucial in order to steer clear of hefty fines.
This is particularly the case with certain industries, like healthcare or finance, where abiding by regulations is absolutely crucial.
By removing manual tasks and utilizing automation, you can be safe in the knowledge that your employees will be following procedures that comply with industry standards and don’t jeopardize your compliance needs.
6. Business Agility
Business agility is one of the many buzzwords within the world of digital transformation that needs a little deciphering.
In essence, what we’re talking about is affording your staff the tools necessary to complete their jobs to the best of their ability. In addition, giving them the means and agency to boost the capability of your departments and workers is what business agility is all about.
This can manifest in a few ways; most notably robotic process automation (RPA)—which is used by many SMBs and typically consists of:
- RPA robot: Single piece of software to execute a specific task
- RPA management software: Software that directs RPA bots (robots managing robots)
- RPA development tools: Software components that RPA devs use to design robots
7. Lack of Visibility Into Processes
Finally, we have a lack of visibility, one of the most important aspects of business today.
There is so much data in the world today, and SMBs more frequently want to be able to leverage the data they’re sitting on in order to gain actionable insights to improve their processes.
Put simply, those manual repetitive tasks that workers are slaving away doing; not only are they eating into your employee productivity amongst other things—they’re also very difficult to keep track of. What this means in practice is that it’s extremely difficult for managers to have a clear overview of processes and how they can be improved.
Also, consider your ability to better serve your customers without being able to use data to determine how to improve their experience.
The more manual processes are digitized, the more you can build profiles and understanding about particular behaviors that can then be addressed. Take for example customer service. If you have an automated ticket-based system, you’ll be able to assess the volume of certain topics and what concerns are frequently being brought up by customers.
Analyzing this data can then inform your decisions regarding how to better deal with customer service in the future.
- Manual tasks are time-consuming and costly; when automated, staff can be better utilized doing other more high-skilled jobs
- Reporting of these tasks is difficult and data on manual processes is sparse, making it extremely hard for decision makers to accurately assess and remediate broken work processes
- Human error is a costly and inevitable aspect of manual tasks, meaning the likelihood of falling foul of compliance regulations is substantially increased
Impact Networking has been helping small and midsize organizations achieve their business goals for over 20 years. Having gone through many successful digitizing projects both for our clients and ourselves, we believe we are the best-placed organization in the country to help SMBs like you. Take a look at our approach to digital initiatives and how we can help you here.