Technology has made us grow accustomed to getting what we need instantly. This is applicable to all aspects of life, whether it is obtaining real-time information or heating a pre-cooked food item for consumption. Regardless of the task at hand, we expect immediate results.
Even on the business front, industries are aiming towards achieving great results using the most efficient processes. Businesses are investing heavily in automating their labor-intensive and tedious business functions to make them easier, faster and error-free. Automating these mechanical processes enables employees to assume strategic roles and invest more time in developing creative business solutions.
Automation of processes requires developers to build a knowledge base with a certain amount of human judgment, decision making and learning, and creating a memory map for repetitive actions.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review states, “technology intervention can be categorized into three segments of work automation: robotic process automation, cognitive automation, and social robotics.”
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) involves application of technology that allows employees to configure company software (or a robot) that can register the existing applications and handle end-to-end processes. Cognitive automation enables organizations to use advanced decision algorithms interlinked with artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and evidence-based learning to emulate the human mind. Social robotics focuses on developing autonomous robots that can interact with humans or digital programs by following social behavior protocols.
Business Processes That Should Be Automated
Some of the processes commonly automated by businesses include simple and complex data entry, processing a transaction, code-based analysis, and coordinating with other digital systems. Starting from customer service, marketing and inventory management to finance and HR, every business function can be enhanced through automation. Here are a few business processes that can be automated easily:
1. Ticketing Process
One of the everyday challenges for IT professionals in a company is to deal with the host of service requests and trouble tickets raised by staff and vendors. Apart from troubleshooting and resolving technical issues, they spend a lot of time tracking and managing tickets. Managing such operational tasks manually can be laborious and often leads to errors. On several occasions, helpdesk technicians also use helpdesk systems to manage the entire ticket lifecycle.
Automating the helpdesk ticketing process can escalate efficiency by setting up an algorithm that assigns trouble tickets to a particular technician or group of IT staff based on certain criteria. These programs use predefined ticket routing business logic that filters multiple queries into different ticket categories, technician skill set, location, department, availability, and workload balance.
Including data analytics when building an effective ticket management system for the company can help with process performance and maturity assessment. This is because analytics can help detect gaps related to processes, procedures, and skill sets, and assign tasks accordingly.
Ticket routing systems simplify ticket management with the help of centralized, intuitive servers that can be accessed to view help desk tickets. Further, these programs segregate tickets by the status (open, approved, pending, closed, resolved), alert level, and priority.
The key benefits of automating the ticketing process in a business environment include:
- Reduction in the scope of unresolved tickets and the time associated with resolving a single query.
- Faster service recovery will lead to achieving process objectives and ultimately the business objectives.
- Speedier resolution will lead to better performance of the systems.
2. Customer Relationship Management Process
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems help employees in knowing the company’s customers, vendors, prospect dealers/buyers and other stakeholders. With these systems in place, employees can maintain good relations with these entities without missing out on valuable opportunities.
In core business terminology, CRM systems are used to organize, automate, and track business processes like sales, lead generation, marketing, forecasting, customer service, and ROI measurement. Automating this process can improve integration in all aspects related to stakeholder management and measure and track the value of customer relationships. In fact, these programs are designed to reach the ultimate goals of increased efficiency and enhanced profitability.
With an increasing number of companies adopting automated CRM processes, developers of CRM programs have created web-based cloud computing systems that require only a Web browser and access to the internet. This is a huge leap from the days when employees used to maintain hard-copy records of customers and vendors.
Web-based systems are software solutions that do not require hardware to be located on the customer’s premise. Adopting these solutions means saving massive amounts of money on physical infrastructures like new equipment, installation, and support. They operate on subscription basis and can perform all major functions related to customer interaction. This can include managing contacts, setting appointments, monitoring a marketing campaign, handling customer service, and numerous other tasks. Further, users (companies) can customize the functions available by accessing them from any computer/device that has an internet connection.
With an efficient CRM system in place, it becomes easier for sales and marketing managers to monitor sales representatives. They can keep tabs on their progress and how have they nurtured leads and closed sales. The software can provide each team member’s sales statistics, like average lead contact time, task completion time and conversion rate. This way, team leaders can reward top performers and guide under-performers.
Implementing an automated CRM system can help you record and manage minute details of each customer in a central location. Users (business owners and managers) can easily access important sales and marketing details about their purchases, interests, and purchasing trends. Further, modern CRM programs include advanced reporting features, easy-to-use dashboards and other customizable options, which make them a smart choice for businesses.
3. Workflow Assignments and Task Management
In the business landscape, automating the task management process can mean that roles are assigned automatically to team members based on skill sets and priorities. In these systems, tasks are prioritized based on certain criteria, which can be customized as per requirements. Further, task tracking software allows you to integrate and monitor all tools and activities from one place.
Automating task allocation and workflow assignments can help managers communicate with team members and make information available to them at all times. This helps in providing relevant information that may help non-participating members to learn from the work, and discuss loopholes and identify laggards.
In the corporate scenario, team leaders can utilize online team task management and project management solutions to ensure that all team members are up-to-date with the latest developments in all projects. This is extremely helpful in conducting effective team meetings and brainstorming sessions.
When selecting a task management solution for your company, you need to choose a solution that has simplified sections, and is familiar to everyone. The process of posting updates and seeing where things stand needs to be easy and not become another complex task at hand.
Different variations of work-task automation can deliver viable solutions for a company only when they are properly implemented. Selecting the right technology for automating work tasks and the alignment of this selection should be cohesive with the overall business strategy.
4. Common HR Tasks
Regardless of the size of an organization, common HR tasks like the leave application process and expense approvals can take up enormous time of your employees.
Automating the leave approval process can be the single biggest time saver in an organization. This is because it is relevant to every employee and involves participation of the senior leadership team. Some leave approval processes allow users to add/eliminate rules and set parameters for availing holidays. More importantly, it enables the HR team to identify over-worked employees in every team by simply extracting timesheet reports and leave applications of people not taking their annual vacation.
Adopting automated software programs for HR functions can reduce the time difference between the submission of leave application and approval. Time-consuming leave approval processes can lead to accumulation of leave requests and untraceable emails, making it extremely difficult for managers to approve such requests on time.
In several situations, managers are short on time to update employee performance records. System-generated reminder emails can eliminate the problems of irregular feedback and the lack of effective metrics. Performance validation through approval cycles is of utmost importance to an organization as well as its employees. An automated system can ensure the timely updating of performance records, and enlist key performance indicators for the employees to identify performance metrics.
To Sum Up
Streamlined business processes build trust among employees, who in turn, focus more on performing better. Automating certain business processes can be a great way to increase efficiency as employees will not be caught up in time-consuming activities.
Hence, a business that is empowered by technology can operate more efficiently, yield greater productivity, and plan its future better.