Automation is a concept many businesses are now becoming vastly familiar with. The nature of automation is simple; get a computer to do things that are too onerous for a human to do. This can involve simple data entry and inputting. Automation can also expand into something more sophisticated; involving permission checkpoints, developer customisation and more intricate rules depending on what the end result needs to be.
Automation can seem like an intimidating factor for businesses. This can be for several reasons:
- Workers don’t want to be replaced by a computer (‘automation anxiety’)
- Setting up the automation rules can be difficult or complex
- The person who set up the automation/workflow may have left the business – now tweaks need to be made and the replacement employee can’t make sense of it.
Automation will serve various purposes depending on the departments who use it. HR for example may want some automation help with onboarding processes. Sales may need some data entry assistance. Marketing may need specific reports to be generated. Finance and accounting will have their own requirements. Here is an example below of how we at Business Agility helped one of our clients in the manufacturing industry excel at automation.
Manufacturing can be beneficial
An example of where we’ve helped automate a department’s duties recently was when we partnered with a
manufacturing company. They were receiving thousands of invoices each month. The invoices were sent to the purchase ledger team within the company.
Previously, this small team were downloading the invoice from a mailbox and printing them out. They were then re-scanning that document so that they could append it to their internal system and then manually re-keying the data from that invoice into the internal systems. (This, unfortunately, is quite a common process in many companies, and one we’ve faced many times before).
We worked with the client and understood the cost they were incurring due to manual admin. The unnecessary tasks were occupying around 75% of the purchase ledger team’s time each month.
The solution we at Business Agility devised was to design and deploy a ‘digital worker’ for the team. That digital worker would mirror the human operative. The term ‘digital worker’ is simply a term for where automation will exist. Digital workers can do many things in a company, and it’s important to know where they’re needed most before proceeding to set them up.
Once an invoice had been received, the digital worker would take all the data from the invoice and upload that directly into the system. Then, it would append the invoice to the finance record within the system and kick off a workflow to send a notification to the person that placed the sales order.
What we managed to do was to relieve that team in the business and empower them to spend more time within the company looking strategically at how they did place purchase orders.
Additionally, they could focus on how they interacted with their suppliers; getting economies of scale from their purchasing and making sure that they had better control over other tasks.