If you didn’t start planning your automation strategy before the end of 2019, you’re already lagging behind your competitors. In many industries, business automation is inevitable. Outdated processes inundated by years of stopgap solutions leave companies vulnerable when key employees depart the company. Specialized knowledge doesn’t always make a smooth transfer from one generation to the next, and that can leave you at a distinct disadvantage, especially during a crisis.
When you automate your company, you optimize your business processes and fuse them to the DNA of your business. You become faster, more accurate, less error-prone, and less vulnerable to business interruptions. You fortify business continuity and give yourself the ability to expand how, where, and when you do business. Best of all, your system continues to work when the office is closed, allowing you to achieve peak efficiency around the clock.
That said, one does not simply snap their fingers to automate a company. Automating processes with business automation requires preparation and planning. Follow these five steps to get started as you make the transition to the best version of your business.
Step #1: Make a Commitment to Long-Term Success
Most business leaders are understandably focused on the here and now. It’s easy to fixate on short-term success, but the long-term outlook for your business is the ultimate judge of whether you are truly achieving your objectives. A commitment to business automation is a commitment to long-term success, which means shifting your strategy and possibly KPIs to account for the adjustment. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but there’s no time better than the present to take the leap. Not convinced? Here are several reasons why you should affirm your commitment to automation today:
- Reduce the cost of labor
- Mitigate human error
- Unlock remote workforce
- Adapt to changing markets
- Optimize workforce distribution
- Eliminate workflow bottlenecks
- Enhance collaboration in and across departments
- Ensure compliance at all times
Step #2: Select Your Most Paper-Burdened Department
At this point, nobody needs to make the case for the benefits of automation – it’s a well-known fact. However, to get the most out of business automation, you need to take what you’ve learned and apply it to one of the most paper-burdened departments in your business.
More paper means more problems, which tends to result in an inefficient or resource-hungry office. These are the departments that cost businesses the most money; not because employees aren’t working hard, but because the outdated processes they are utilizing are simply no match for today’s more advanced paperless solutions. Commonly, Accounts Payable, Order Entry, Human Resources, and Accounts Receivable are the departments that can benefit most, both in terms of boosting efficiency, productivity, and ROI.
Step #3: Understand the Justification for Going Paperless
Before you can automate at scale, you need to go paperless. In many ways, eliminating paper is the precursor to automation. When you go paperless, you maintain digital copies of all documents in a secure, centralized repository that can be accessed by approved users based on permission level. This gives you the ability to access, review, edit, and rout all documents instantaneously, eliminating time spent shuffling through file cabinets or manually delivering documents. Unlike information on paper, information that is transferred into a digital format can be used in virtually endless ways, which means you can finally consider automating the processes that are holding your business back.
Step #4: Blueprint Your Business Processes
Now, it’s time to identify business processes in need of improvement. You need a deep understanding of your workflows if you want to automate it correctly. Try to avoid systems that try to force you to make sweeping changes to your existing processes. Improvements are welcome, but if a system can’t adapt to your tried-and-true processes, it might not be the right match. On the other hand, avoid duplicating a manual process using technology only because “that’s the way we have always done it.” Change is also an opportunity to improve by challenging why things are being done a certain way.
Engaging a partner with knowledge of best ERP- or industry-specific practices can also help to re-engineer a process and make it better than before. You want a robust product that can be “configured” to the particular needs of your business. Only then will you be able to fully realize the advantages of business automation.
Step #5: Automate Your Company With Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Software
The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. You’ve made a steadfast commitment to automating your company, identified your most overburdened departments, reduced your reliance on paper, and documented the nuances of your business processes – it’s finally time to implement your automation solution! We recommend avoiding point solutions that only allow you to automate certain departments or processes. A configurable Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution that can be applied to multiple departments gives you the benefit of dealing with a single vendor who truly understands the entirety of your ERP system and it’s connected applications. It also allows you to scale your solution on your own terms and timeline.
Are you interested in learning more about how business automation can help you work smarter, not harder? IntelliChief can help you automate your company to accelerate processing times and eliminate errors, giving you a distinct competitive advantage. To learn more about how we can help you plot your automation timeline to ensure that your business is protected against future interruptions, contact us today.