13 Nov Here’s How to Improve Workplace Productivity With Process Automation
In any business time is money, with the upshot being that labor is money.
Nearly every business has looked for ways to save money by reducing the amount of labor required to perform a task. Manufacturing companies have turned this into an art form through a variety of industrial engineering activities such as: operations management, ergonomics, system simulations, and ongoing performance analysis of each step in the manufacture of a part. By reducing the time to perform each action, a significant cost savings can be realized across a whole plant.
This concept can also be applied to business operations, and the advancements in computing hardware and software have accelerated the adoption of process automation in the office, not just on the factory floor.
What is Process Automation?
A business process is any chain of activities that accomplish a goal and can be represented on a flow chart. Management processes could include strategic planning and corporate governance. Operational processes could include sales, marketing, and manufacturing activities. Supporting processes could include hiring, technical support, and finance activities.
Process automation is an activity that includes reviewing the existing processes within a business like those listed above, identifying areas of inefficiency, and streamlining critical processes to reduce wasteful labor and activity. Process automation could potentially include the development and installation/integration of software tools to facilitate a variety of processes. These activities can be applied to any level of business operations, from packing final parts into a box to corporate management.
Because situations and environments continuously change, process automation is an iterative activity. Part of process automation is to assess the effectiveness of previous actions and to make changes to the process to further increase efficiency and reduce waste. This review can and should be done at a regular interval.
Benefits of Process Automation
Like in manufacturing, business processes can also benefit from process automation. When business processes are properly automated, the goal is to minimize the waste in time and resources that the original process contained.
An example of a process automation activity includes eliminating paper requisition forms within an organization. When employees can enter their requests in electronic form, a copy can be sent to each required contact and the request can be automatically entered into the requisition system and linked with the accounting system and the shipping/receiving system. This move from paper to electronic entry eliminates the need for another employee to enter that data into one or more systems for processing, tracking, and notification.
Keys to a Successful Process Automation Implementation
Process automation requires a buy-in from all levels of a company, from c-level officers down through the staff. All personnel have to see the value in improving company efficiency and understand that the investment in process automation will result in a significant return that will benefit employees, customers, and stockholders.
Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Katarzyna Owczarczyk notes, “Key factors to establishing successful automation systems include faster and more reliable networking solutions such as industrial computers which, when combined with advanced process control software, function as automation supervisors with the ability to connect external machines and plants.”
If your company involves field personnel or multiple locations, it may make sense to examine a cloud-based process automation system. A cloud-based system provides a variety of benefits to a company, including web and mobile access to data and systems. An article by CIO Insight stated that, “by 2015, Gartner anticipates that cloud computing will hasten the use of tools and automation in IT services, resulting in a marked increase in productivity levels for service providers and a reduction in their costs of delivery. These tools and automation solutions are expected to eliminate 25% of IT labor hours.”
When looking at the inefficiencies within your business, it may be helpful to hire a process automation expert to assist you. At Inverse-Square, we can analyze your daily work flow, help you to assess the areas of waste within your existing processes, and develop an automation strategy that involves eliminating processes that do not provide value to the company or customer. We will merge duplicate processes, automate labor intensive processes, while integrating your existing productivity tools, and develop a regular process efficiency review schedule for your business to follow.Request a Consultation
1 Ko, Ryan K. L., A computer scientist’s introductory guide to business process management (BPM), Crossroads, Volume 15 Issue 4, ACM, June 2009.