There are aspects of running your small business that you love—and there are tedious tasks that require a great deal of attention to detail and a significant time investment to ensure accuracy. You’ve likely delegated those tasks to others within your organization, allowing them to create processes that make sense for their work style—or, you may have written a manual that provides them with step-by-step instructions on how to complete each task.
Either way, you already have a set of processes that keep your business running. But in any growing company, there are kinks that need to be worked out—and human error often compounds those kinks. For you to increase productivity and use the talents of your existing workforce wisely, it’s vital you understand what process automation is, how it works, and why it’s a godsend for your business.
What Is Process Automation?
Process automation refers to technology that allows you to automate manual tasks—those which would otherwise require an excessive amount of time to complete. A calculator is an early representation of process automation, as it permits the user to complete an incredible number of complex calculations with the push of a few buttons.
The purpose of process automation is two-fold: 1) it accelerates your daily business tasks, and 2) it does so seamlessly, significantly increasing accuracy. Take an honest look at your workforce’s daily tasks and consider how automation could free up time for more important work, like lead generation and sales. Also, consider how much you would save when a process that generally takes hours could be completed within minutes.
How Does Process Automation Work?
Process automation works through software that utilizes a rule-based system, which is essentially a logical program that performs automated tasks based on pre-defined rules.
An example of process automation includes email marketing. You may already use a system that takes a specific set of actions after you trigger a command. Perhaps you’ve set up your workflow to include a follow-up email after 24-48 hours to keep communication open with a new customer and you may have also set up nurturing campaigns that include a set of pre-written emails sent out regularly to your email list.
Process automation can also be set up to ensure timely and accurate communication among team members. For example, when hiring for a new position, you may receive hundreds of applications. With the incorporation of process automation, you can easily scan through applicant data to highlight only those best suited for the position. Similarly, once an applicant has been offered the position, automation ensures all paperwork is completed, any assets are assigned, and system access is granted.
Since process automation is touted for accuracy and efficiency, AP automation, short for accounts payable automation, brings massive relief to accounting departments. Tasks like expense processing, reimbursement requests, and invoice reconciliation are completed flawlessly, offering you reduced costs and increased visibility. All tasks that require a high degree of accuracy are replicated, increasing productivity while maintaining precision.
How Does Process Automation Benefit Your Business?
When leveraged appropriately, process automation delivers a host of benefits to your small business, including:
When your workflow is clearly outlined, each step of the process can be assigned to a specific team member, with reminders set ahead of time to ensure communication is diligent. You’re offered visibility throughout each process, which assists with keeping team members accountable from start to finish.
Mistakes cost money – some mistakes are significantly more costly than others, depending on your industry. By streamlining your processes, you’re reducing the likelihood of errors. Additionally, processes that used to be time-consuming and repetitive are handled by smart software, which reduces your total administrative labor costs.
Boosted productivity and efficiency
With workflow automation, you can assign roles, delegate tasks, and set up approval responsibilities to ensure your team members stay on top of their workloads (without having to chase down a senior team member for a signature).
Highly accurate work
It’s true for you and it’s true for your employees—repetitive, tedious tasks make your eyes gloss over. Even the most efficient and accurate person on your team is much more likely to make mistakes when the task becomes monotonous. Workflow automation takes the reins on those dull tasks, which frees up your team’s time to explore and execute more purposeful work. You not only benefit from the accuracy of automation, but you also see a boost in employee morale.
Automation can even play a role in helping you solve cybersecurity problems. As your organization’s complexity increases, you become more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks. Allowing automation to catch potential issues helps you maintain security across all operations.
When you choose to automate workflows, you bolster channels of communication and empower employees to complete their best work alongside intelligent software. Their day-to-day tasks are immediately upgraded, allowing them to complete more enjoyable work that suits their talents and permits you to benefit from their expertise.
You can bypass human errors and watch productivity increase, all while growing your bottom line. Although it’s tempting to keep things the way they are because that’s how they’ve always been, you place a cap on your own growth when you fail to jump on opportunities that increase efficiency. So long as you understand a transition phase is in order when implementing process automation software, you’ll relish the other side, knowing your small business is slated for exponential growth.