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August 15, 2022

Automation and optimization of business process of companies and enterprises

Automation of business process of an enterprise in the broad sense is the process of creation of technological systems that reduce the need for labor, both manual and intellectual. This term is broad and covers almost all business spheres: from the use of robotic systems in industry and medicine to mass mailing services. For instance, AGORA offers a range of solutions for automation and business process optimization: a creation of a b2b portal for receiving and processing wholesale orders of supply companies; a content management system of an online store website, industry b2b solutions, etc.

We will now see why automation and optimization of business processes is convenient and suitable for everyone, even for your company or enterprise.

Business process automation: what to expect in the future

The McKinsey Global Institute report states that 51% of the tasks performed by modern American workers in different economic spheres will be automated by 2055. This will help employers save $2,7 trillion currently paid for wages.

The report primary deals with manual labor, which is being gradually replaced by machines. However, business process automation is not only about complex robots, but also many intellectual systems that save time of office workers and top managers and help transform routine tasks into smooth-running business processes.

Besides, these tasks currently represent the lion’s share of automated processes. It is no coincidence that McKinsey mentions retail as one of the areas that are being most affected by automation. However, many entrepreneurs are still skeptical of this issue. Several arguments for those thinking that business processes automation isn’t convenient for their business can be found below.

Saving means far fewer benefits than you may think it does

Automation and optimization of business processes, from mailing to complex B2B marketplaces, are costly. In theory, this sum of money can be saved by delegating the following tasks to employees: calling sales managers, concluding separate contracts with every supplier, sending letters manually to all the customers.

However, as it is once again mentioned by McKinsey, it will unlikely be cheaper. According to the analysis conducted in a number of industries and professions, the financial benefits of implementing automated solutions exceed the costs by 3-10 times. In this case, a benefit was understood as improved quality and increased volume of work performed, as well as increased reliability, elimination of the “human factor”, including the industries where humans remain essential: for example, work of sales managers, doctors, teachers, etc.

It does not mean, of course, that everything needs to be automated. The excessive use of services will result in the fact that a company will have too many heterogeneous products and solutions which will need to be interrelated and integrated. And you will have to learn how to work with them, which is much more complex than the initial objective.

It is better to start with frequently repeated routine procedures, they are the easiest to be automated. Systems that simplify the process of interacting with counterparties can be another good example of effective business process automation. Such as, for instance, the solutions that allow you to track the quantity of products in the supplier’s warehouse, reserve them, monitor the status of the order online. All of it instead of contacting the supplier’s representative for information on every issue.

There are no all-purpose employees

Sometimes a desire to leave everything as it is and not automate anything arises from a delusion that a real person will perform tasks better than some kind of service. It doesn’t deal with saving anymore: the costs of paying wages to several employees can be analogous to the cost of a number of business process automation solutions.

The problem is: technology created to automate tasks has a clearly defined algorithm of work and the scope of tasks that it can solve, while it is not always the case for a human. Besides, as a “living employee” has a flexible mind and tries to grasp everything as quickly as possible, there are more expectations from his or her work and fewer instructions on how to perform it. Brandon Turner, BiggerPockets vice-president, cites a classic example of bad recruitment:

“I didn’t know what exactly my personal assistant was supposed to do. I thought that he would simply come to work and immediately begin to help me with something. I had practically no time to train him. As a result, he ended up sitting around doing nothing”.

When delegating a routine task to an employee, the boss isn’t always willing to clearly explain how to perform it and what result is expected. This situation isn’t possible with an automated solution, you will have to spend some time to figure out how it works, but the result will be predictable and guaranteed.

It doesn’t mean, of course, that business process automation solutions are better than humans - that’s not true. Besides, some surveys claim that such solutions will not replace whole professions, but specific tasks even in the future. Thus, employees have nothing to worry about. They won’t be fired, their work will simply become less routine.

There are no all-purpose leaders

One more reason to dislike automation and optimization of business processes comes from the desire to control everything, which virtually means doing everything yourself. This desire is often called a “superhero syndrome”. It occurs to business leaders who wish to feel that everything is under their control.

Troubles begin when you have to control not only yourself, but all the business processes of a company. In this case, constantly completing small routine tasks takes time, a non-renewable resource which is the most valuable for every entrepreneur. First, the absence of urgent but not so important tasks helps concentrate on business. Second, it helps avoid emotional burnout.

Not everything can be done on your own

A company as well can suffer from the “superhero syndrome”: external solutions are by default considered not good enough, not being of high quality, or not sufficiently customized. The only possible behavioral pattern in this case is to develop everything “in-house”, in other words, within the company.

On the one hand, this approach is fair. After all, no one knows your company better than you do. However, it doesn’t mean that you can solve your problems better without having any specialized knowledge and, most importantly, experience in developing similar projects.

When you face health problems, you go to a specialist. He may see you for the first time in his life, but he has enough experience and specialized knowledge to make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment.

The case of business automation is quite similar. Companies that solve such problems can find and implement the right combination of services quickly and efficiently. It is possible that such a combination will be typical and won’t be able to take all your needs into account. However, it will definitely be reliable, as many businesses have been using it before.

What does it all mean?

  1. Saving on business process optimization and automation, you are not really saving. Instead of money, you will have to spend time, yours or of your employees, which is also expensive. On the other hand, automating everything can also be dangerous, so start your optimization of business processes and automation with clear routine tasks.
  2. There is no point in delegating the work that a machine can do to an employee. The machine doesn’t need to be trained, but the result will be more predictable. Let your employees work on more interesting and creative things.
  3. Don’t be afraid of the fact that b2b solutions for optimization and automation of business processes will deprive you of the ability to control the situation. These solutions will save your time for you to be able to address truly important administrative tasks. Besides, you will always be ale to monitor the analytical indicators. This is much more useful for company’s development than manually doing all the work.
  4. Not all solutions should be developed within the company. An external integrator may offer a convenient and effective service, partly because he or she has already helped many other companies.