Process automation is not necessarily as flashy as creating a new website or building a mobile app, but it is critically important.
In 2018, we expect to see the importance of function grow and lead to a renewed focus on how efficiently things work. We see a few of reasons for this:
Over the last couple of years, the ability for companies of all sizes to automate their processes has grown. There's been many new SaaS providers focused on translating conventional analog processes into the digital world.
One example is in the field service management industry, which as been one of the early beneficiaries of process automation, is set to see opportunities for process automation increase to $5.11 billion in 2020.
Just within one market there exists great potential to automate processes. We believe this is also an indicator of how many of the tasks people do day-to-day are outdated and ready for automation.
Going hand-in-hand with the growth in the number of providers and interest in process automation is the decrease in cost. Part of this is caused by the increased competition in the market, but also because of the shift from software licensing to cloud-based subscription software service providers.
With cloud-based systems on a monthly fee, smaller companies can more efficiently manage the investment to try these new technologies without an excessive upfront investment. This model also saves businesses time and money by shifting the responsibility for updates and maintenance to the service provider.
Cloud-based subscription models have made it easier for companies of all sizes to start optimizing their processes with technology, which we believe will lead to continued growth in 2018.
Finally, over the last ten years, we’ve seen digitalization accelerate. More and more services are available online, some exclusively so.
Libraries, banks, government forms, taxes, immigration – one by one they have all shifted some part of their consumer-facing and internal processes online. With that transition to digital becoming more pervasive, organizations are now looking for more ways to maximize productivity with digital tools, which we believe will inevitably lead to process automation.
What this means for you
If you are looking for a way to reduce costs or increase productivity, it can be an easy avenue to pursue. Here are a few ways you can start approaching process automation:
Identify processes you can automate
The first step in process automation is, as you may expect, to identify processes that are ripe for automation. There’s no need to take on the biggest, most cumbersome process first, rather we suggest you focus on something small that:
- Is repeated regularly
- Has little or no room for error
- Is done the same way each time
A common example is a monthly expenses report.
Once you’ve identified your process and successfully automated it, you can apply the same identification methodology to bigger processes, before moving on to solving these problems.
Leverage your CMS
Your CMS can do more than just publish content online. You can use it to manage templates, workflows, collaboration, and required approvals.
For example, most organizations have one (or several) gatekeepers who need to sign off on things. Instead of using an inelegant email chain, you can use your CMS to quickly solicit approvals and edits from a broad range of stakeholders, in a central location.
This is low-hanging fruit when it comes to automating your processes.
Use project management or automation software
There are plenty out there – Trello (now Atlassian), Basecamp, Wrike, Agiloft, KiSSFLOW. All these tools do variations on the same thing: provide a clear view of a project, help people know what’s happening (and what they need to do), and when everything needs to be done.
It means that there’s a clear understanding by everyone of everything, so fewer things are liable to fall between the cracks.
Other tools like Zapier and IFTTT let you automate and amalgamate your digital tools with a basic ‘if this then that’ type logic, which can achieve quick wins for process automation.
Business process automation is going to be an increasingly important topic as business look to do more with less in 2018.
And with the advances in AI, in new SaaS providers, and with CMS features and functionality, there’s never been a better time to get started with automating your business process.
If you want to stay competitive, the best thing you can do is get automating.