It is impossible to ignore the impact of automation across the enterprise. With benefits ranging from reduced provisioning times to fewer data entry errors, duplicate payments, and lost documents, there are countless ways for enterprise automation to make a marked difference in your organization. The enterprise is evolving, and skeptics will find themselves at a significant disadvantage if they attempt to resist automation. If you want to keep pace with your competitors, you will first need to address some of the common automation myths and misconceptions that cause business leaders to pause.
What Is Enterprise Automation?
Enterprise automation expands the concept of departmental or “office” automation and applies it to the enterprise at scale. It places a strong emphasis on automating all aspects of the enterprise that can benefit from faster, less error-prone, and more streamlined processes, such as Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Sales Orders, Human Resources, Customer Service, and more.
Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions about enterprise automation, which is largely due to the fact that this technology is capable of enhancing the enterprise in virtually endless ways. Furthermore, since no two enterprise automation projects follow the exact same rules and guidelines, the term has a tendency to defy a singular description. Lack of clarity can lead to incorrect ideas and blatantly false information, preventing you from acting in the best interest of your company. Therefore, as the premier provider of enterprise automation featuring universal compatibility with all Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and applications, we have decided to take some time to clear the air and dispel some of the most common (and problematic) myths and misconceptions preventing you from automating in 2020.
Myth: Implementing Enterprise Automation Requires a Ton of Coding Expertise
Whenever business leaders consider software-based solutions like office automation, their most common concerns are typically centered around the amount of coding that will be required to ensure solutions are seamlessly integrated and easy to maintain and update. The amount of manpower that goes into coding projects can be extensive, resulting in more billable hours than you anticipated or were led to believe during your initial consultations.
Consider this: the cost to develop a professional-grade application with custom coding for iOS can cost as much as $150,000 or more if you want a reputable, US-based vendor to take on your project — and that is just for a smartphone app.
When it comes to enterprise automation, if you can find a solution that supports no-code programming, you will be able to save a lot of money during the implementation phase as well as ongoing maintenance after your solution is deployed. You will not need to retain an expensive independent contractor or full-time employee to keep your system running smoothly. Rather, with a no-code solution, your team will be trained on how to make the necessary changes to your system whenever needed. Additionally, if you do require support from your vendor, they will be able to quickly and efficiently tweak your system to help improve operational efficiency and increase your bottom line without the exorbitant service fees associated with custom coding projects.
Myth: The Learning Curve of Enterprise Automation Creates a Chaotic Work Environment
Your business needs a competitive advantage to survive but is entrenched in processes that need to be overhauled to improve operational efficiency and save your company; how can you ensure that enterprise automation will be a good fit? More importantly, how can you be completely certain that your workflows will not be thrown into chaos? To be fair, this myth has some truth to it depending on which vendor you select to take on your project.
Too often, businesses find that the solution that seems like the best fit on paper is actually more restrictive than they were led to believe. These vendors want you to play by their rules to ensure that their solution is capable of satisfying their contractual obligations, which means your company’s best interests may become secondary to those of your vendor. This is how a “solution” becomes a problem, resulting in a chaotic work environment that ironically creates more challenges for your team.
That said, when working with the right vendor, this should not be a problem. Enterprise automation does not have to be complicated. Your solution should offer you more direct control of your workflows based on your existing procedures while integrating with your core technologies. This will result in streamlined workflows that eliminate menial tasks and give your team more time to focus on tasks that require human intervention. Best of all, the business rules applied to your workflows will mirror the exact processes already being utilized by your team, significantly reducing the learning curve of implementing new technology into your existing infrastructure. If you are currently browsing enterprise automation vendors, it is highly recommended that you confirm whether or not you can keep your existing workflows intact. This is crucial to a successful office automation implementation.
Myth: Enterprise Automation Is a Static Solution
Many organizations consider automation a purchase like any other. They assume their solution will be designed, purchased, and implemented — and that’s it. However, this could not be further from the truth. Enterprise automation is not static, and your experience with automation will extend beyond your implementation. Your project might contain multiple phases, and the scope of work could be altered several times before your solution is deployed. These course-corrections are important if you want your solution to generate ROI from Day 1 and onward.
Enterprise automation should be scalable. Whether you deploy it department by department or in one fell swoop, there will come a time when you need to pick up the phone and talk to your vendor. But how can you be sure they will be there when you call? Enterprise automation needs to evolve alongside your business, which means your selected vendor needs to be all-in on your mutual success. Our recommendation? Start with departments that are heavily reliant on paper or have the maximum ROI potential for automation, then expand your solution from there.
Myth: Enterprise Automation Focuses on Patching Up Inefficient Business Processes
When it comes to enterprise automation, your goal should not be to simply bridge the gap in workflows that are inefficient. Enterprise automation is far too robust and flexible to be utilized as a “patch.” Instead, your enterprise automation project gives you a chance to take a step back and gain a global view of your entire organization.
From here, it is easy to spot operational inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and other obstacles that prevent your business from maximizing profitability. It is even easier when your vendor takes the role of a strategic partner to help you unearth and, ultimately, address these inefficiencies. If your business is only dealing with a single issue, a point solution might be suitable; however, many businesses later discover that these simple solutions lack compatibility with future software integrations, or the scalability to meet their growth objectives. The real benefits of enterprise automation include:
- Faster, more accurate processing across all departments
- Instant storage and retrieval of all enterprise content
- Superior enterprise collaboration
- Enhanced customer service
- Significant cost savings
- Improved working environment
- And more
Myth: Your Enterprise Automation Project Will Fail If Your Organizational Structure Is Overly Nuanced
Do you have an approved automation project? You want to be frank when discussing your requirements with vendors to ensure that you do not waste time with a vendor that cannot deliver. One of the best ways to separate suitable vendors from those that do not have the capabilities to help you reach your goals is by discussing your business processes and their corresponding workflows ad nauseum. Do not be shy if the way you do things is unique (or even impractical). If a vendor tells you that your organizational structure is too complex or nuanced for automation, they are not the right choice for your business.
Enterprise automation solutions exist for virtually every business in every industry, regardless of the legacy components, systems, and applications inherent to those industries. Look for a provider that has established integrations with your core ERP system, even if there is more than one. As we mentioned above, you want to work with a strategic partner who has a mutual interest in your company’s success. When you find a partner like this, no organizational structure is too complex to automate.
Myth: The Key to a Successful Enterprise Automation Implementation Is the Features of the Product Itself
Take a second to think about some of your recent purchases. What compelled you to buy? If your psychology matches most consumers, you probably weighed the features and benefits against the cost of the product to find the most feature-packed product for the price. This strategy is effective 90 percent of the time for 90 percent of purchases, but it is not a good buying strategy when shopping enterprise automation solutions.
Of course, features are important, but with enterprise automation, accessibility to a full suite of features is dependent on the success of your implementation. Most enterprise software implementations fail; not because the technology is flawed but because the team tasked with implementing the solution is not up to the task. Any vendor that takes a one-size-fits-all approach to office automation is going to find themselves at a standstill when attempting to configure their solution to the precise needs of their clients.
Selecting the right vendor and ensuring that they map their solution to your existing workflows is vital. It is easy to be won over by a robust feature set, but if you cannot use those features, what is the point? Keep in mind that features and a successful implementation are not mutually exclusive, but they are two considerations that should be weighed equally.
Myth: The Cost of Enterprise Automation Is Too Expensive to Justify the Project
Cost justification. The stage of automation where good projects go to die. In many cases, the justification is warranted by the potential for ROI but there is skepticism about whether projected models can be relied on to move forward. Let’s be clear, models help you understand how ROI will be attained, but they are less effective at giving you a precise measure of cost savings and performance improvements — this can only be accomplished by utilizing models that pull from a company’s real data.
Therefore, this myth is rather easy to dispel. When looking to justify your project, ask your selected vendors about their process for calculating ROI. Do they calculate ROI strictly in dollars saved? How do they attach a dollar amount to performance improvements? These are vital questions to ask during the research phase. When reaching out to vendors, ask if they have an ROI calculator that lets you plug in your unique business data to get a rough estimate of potential savings — but do not stop there. You should also ask how (or if) they calculate ROI during the implementation phase.
Are You Ready to Automate in 2021?
The enterprise automation buzz is everywhere. Business leaders have faced some of the greatest economic challenges in our country’s history this year, and the consensus is clear. It is time to automate in 2021 and beyond to not only stay competitive but viable as well. As digital transformation shifts the balance of power across markets, now is the time to cast skepticism to the side and embrace enterprise automation for what it is — the future of business as we know it.
Want to learn more about the benefits of our enterprise automation solutions? Contact IntelliChief today to learn how your business can leverage an Enterprise Content Management system to become faster, leaner, and more profitable.