Many businesses are interested in investigating the ways automation can help them stand out in today’s competitive market. Advances in networking, software engineering, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) have introduced many new technologies and techniques that can be used to automate various business processes.
Automation can take many forms. Some types of automation, for example, automating a production line, only pertain to certain industries. Other opportunities to take advantage of automation are applicable to any kind of business. Many internal departments can benefit from automating some of their processes. This can lead to increased productivity and reduced costs across the organization.
Opportunities for automation exist wherever there are repetitive tasks that can be formally codified. Manual tasks related to physical production have been automated for decades. Developments in robotics and miniaturization have ramped-up the speed and extent to which automation is being deployed.
Progress in artificial intelligence and machine learning has brought automation into the realm of intellectual tasks and processes that are critical to your business. It can be used in areas of your company as diverse as marketing, human resources, and sales.
As promising as automation may appear, it needs to be approached in a comprehensive manner in order to achieve benefits for your enterprise. Failure to do so can lead to disastrous results, according to csoonline.com. Extremely large projects like the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act were negatively impacted by a faulty implementation of automation.
We are going to look at 5 mistakes that are commonly made by businesses when they are developing and creating an automation system. Avoid these pitfalls when considering automation for your company.
1. Incomplete Understanding of the Manual Process to be Automated
Before embarking on any attempt to automate a business process or task, the current manual process needs to be fully understood. Depending on the process being considered, this may be a complicated and time-consuming endeavor. It involves bringing together the teams and subject matter experts who know the process best and can dissect it into a finite number of distinct steps.
As the process is being broken down and understood, you need to identify where automation can affect it in a positive way. There may be portions of the process that can be easily automated, and others where automation does not make sense. Making the right choices at this point can have major implications in the success or failure of your project.
It is possible that during your review you determine that automation is not right for this particular process. It is better to find out before you invest significant time and money trying to force a solution on a problem that did not exist or could not be solved by this method.
2. Not Fitting the Organizational Pieces Together
It is very rare that a department or business process works in total isolation from the rest of the company. More often there are various levels of interest from a variety of sources regarding a process that is up for automation. Processes that were previously done manually and had a human resource who could respond to occasional queries may not possess that facility any longer. This can cause problems with information flow within a business.
You may want to be able to expand the capabilities of your automation system by incorporating reporting or monitoring across several departments. When developing your tools, you should consider using an open architecture platform that is designed to be customized and extended. This will give you the flexibility to grow your automation tools and incorporate other existing business processes.
3. Attempting to Automate a Broken Processes
When you are reviewing a process and considering it for automation, a related question surrounds the utility of the process in the first place. According to smallbizdaily.com, this issue can rear its ugly head when marketing automation is being contemplated. In some cases, the use of automation software can hinder your ability to see the real issues with your marketing strategy.
Automating a misdirected marketing plan will save time for your marketing department, but will not achieve any benefits for the organization as a whole. The underlying issues need to be addressed before automation should be implemented.
4. Attempting Automation on Large and Complex Tasks
Many companies fall into the trap of automating a large or complex task at an early point in the overall automation plan. This can be for a number of reasons. At the start of the project, resources may be available that are not guaranteed to be accessible at a later date. The team also may want to make a statement by showing significant progress quickly, to allay any qualms about the viability of the project.
This can be a recipe for disaster. Your team will undoubtedly improve their skills at implementing automation as their experience increases. Taking small first steps and improving the internal operations of the automation team is a vital ingredient in building their ability to tackle more complex parts of your business. Resist the temptation to go after the big fish first.
5. Creating Automation Without a Designated Owner or Standards
The impetus for automation projects often comes from upper management, who may put together a collective team that, at first glance, appears to be the right mix to get the job done. The problem with collectives in the business world is that without a process owner and their associated responsibility, projects can get bogged down.
Having an owner of the automation project who can dictate standards and hold others accountable will keep the project moving in the right direction. It also gives the project some gravitas as it will no longer be seen as something the teams are doing in their spare time.
Automation presents many opportunities for your business to use to its advantage. The trick is to use it wisely, as it is not a panacea for everything that ails your business. Used in an intelligent way, it can give your company a leg up on the competition. And isn’t that the point?
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