“I don’t want to survive, I want to live!” from the movie Wall-E resonates well now with most entrepreneurs around the world. You don’t just want your business to exist, you want it to thrive. How do you go about it during this virus-crisis, especially when the light at the end of the tunnel is right now invisible? Automation is one way to light up the dark tunnel we’re all stuck in now.
Automation anywhere has been underway for years now (in a way it remained an underdog), but now it is simply unstoppable due to the pandemic. A McKinsey report indicates that nearly 45% of current activities performed by individuals in an organization can be automated. Indeed, we've moved from saying 'we're automating a lot' to 'what more can we automate now in these unprecedented times.' All thanks to the powerful advantages of automation technology.
We’ve always been automated for a company our size, so there was nothing to panic about when the economy tanked in 2008 and now when the COVID-19 pandemic hit our county and country in 2020. We know it’s not the case with a lot of businesses out there. Most of them are on the brink of losing it all as they are forced to shut down and employees restricted to home-quarantine. As an eager beaver entrepreneur, you need to step up your strategy during this uncertain phase. Help your employees (working-from-home) do more valuable stuff, and automation applied in the right way can help you do just that.
Straight from the horse’s mouth, Bill Gates once indicated automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify its efficiency and when exercised on an inefficient operation it will magnify its inefficiency. Indeed automation and RPA has answers to the current situation and can enhance the efficiency of your process. There’s no shortage of tools and high-tech automation solutions on the market today to deal with rote tasks and increase productivity. You can automate every inch of your operations from customer support, payroll, marketing, to document generation and everything in between.
There are scores of articles on the internet talking about automation tools for every process in your business. Indeed you can find various types and examples of automation. But just because you can automate a certain aspect of your business doesn’t mean you must. Now, how to know ‘what to automate’ and ‘what not to automate’ in these unprecedented times. You need to get smart here by getting your process ‘right’ and choosing the right process for automation.
If you’re in a ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ kind of state when getting into the specifics of a process you wish to automate, then it’s time to step back. Any attempts to automate it will be futile. You must first understand the process well and if it can’t be documented in simple English, chances are it’s too complex and abstruse.
In his book, Enterprise Applications Administration, author Jeremy Faircloth imparts some of his wisdom by outlining the factors that help with this decision process. He confirms the fact that not all processes can be automated as some need too much manual intervention and others due to administrative or technical limitations.
Now, even if you aren’t a tech-savvy entrepreneur, it’s possible to spot the right processes that you can automate in your company. Here’s what an ideal process that’s worth automating should look like:
Evaluating the process this way can help you streamline it with the help of the best automation tools and in the process get rid of any bottlenecks. Anything that’s repetitive and involves teamwork is worth automating in the present lock-down conditions as even individual employees working from home or remotely can execute the process in just a couple of clicks. In fact, it never hurts to ask your employees what needs to be automated in this present situation.
Now that you’re cognizant of how to identify the ideal processes to automate, the next thing is to spot befitting automation tools. You’ll come across an extensive range of them all promising to speed up your process without sacrificing quality. In fact, they can be right within your budget and ready-made (easy to test and implement). Albeit, the past decade saw a lot of automation failures that even included big company names like Google (2014 Gmail bug problem) and Amazon (2015 involving Dynamo DBDatabase).
Security matters when automating any process as anything that‘s programmed can be bugged and hacked. After the process gets automated, you need to ensure it can be supervised at will and managed effectively before any issue gets out of hand. The support system of the automation software company must also respond promptly if there are any bugs or other issues to deal with.
During these uncertain times, automation industry can give the confidence and control your company needs — we can’t let this crisis decide our future. Economist David Autor spoke in his TED speech that we’ve already faced momentous economic transformations in the last century and we’ve come through successfully.
Of course, every time is different and we’ll get out of this tunnel as well. In essence, it isn’t all about headcount reduction that automation aims at. It helps propel your business towards progress by freeing up your employees’ time from mundane tasks. This ensures they can focus on things that matter and need innovative thinking to do something remarkable.