Automation in business
Automation: the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically
We set up our “Out of Office” notice to let people know that we cannot respond to email while we are away for vacation. This is the most basic form of automation that we perform in our businesses. Other examples include:
- Setting up systems to run reports at certain intervals and delivering them via email.
- Set up Outlook rules to file content automatically.
- Setting our phone system on night mode manually or via a schedule to let customers continue to interact with our business while we are away.
- For businesses with key card access, locking and unlocking the doors via a schedule.
- We can schedule Facebook to post content in the future down to the exact minute we specify.
There are a lot of things we are currently automating in our businesses, but what is next?
Tesla Motors has significantly moved autonomous driving forward with Autopilot. At its most basic level, driving is a process. Tesla has taken that process along with a myriad of sensors and controls and built logic to have them all function together seamlessly. This is much simpler than it sounds, but it is happening.
If you have a repeatable process that is already in place, you may want to think about leveraging your current technology to take the next step towards automating that process.
What should be automated:
- Tasks that are labor intensive and provide no value add from a customer point of view:
Most companies have a line of business applications that most of their business runs out of. These applications usually have tools that can be utilized to streamline your processes and minimize costs due to manual errors.
- Exception reporting to find things that are not getting done on time or falling through the cracks
- Streamlining collections to automatically send out statements once accounts are X days overdue
- Automatically compiling timesheet data and importing/exported directly into payroll
Have you looked at your application lately to see if you are taking full advantage of its capabilities?
- Processes that keep you from scaling:
If you are addressing and stamping 1000 envelopes every month and that takes 2 full time resources to accomplish, it may be time to look into technology that can address and apply the postage automatically. Is emailing those same letters an option? If so, resources can then be allocated to quality control and other tasks in your organization that are more customer focused.
Scaling then becomes an efficiency of the automation that has been put into place.
- Error prone/Customer facing tasks:
Organizations with large campuses that are open to the general public usually have a staff member walk around, turn on the lights, TV’s, and other electronics to prepare for the day. In turn, that same staff member shuts everything down after hours. With the introduction of new IoT (Internet of Things) devices, you can automate this task. These devices can be scheduled to power on and off equipment at specific dates and times, usually saving energy and guaranteeing a repeatable experience for your customers.
What you decide to automate in your business is up to you. Some things maybe should never be automated, but there are always efficiencies to be gained by utilizing your existing or investing into newer technology.