Is Your Business Ready For Business Process Automation?
For businesses to grow and thrive, they need to embrace technology solutions. Technology doesn’t just offer a way for businesses to communicate and work more efficiently. There are innovative solutions that also provide competitive advantage that help businesses themselves become innovative – doing business in such a way that proves disruptive to their competitors and peers. One such example of an innovation is business process automation.
What is business process automation?
Put simply, business process automation is the use of technology to execute recurring tasks or processes so that humans no longer need to manually undertake them. The idea is that by taking the simple, repetitive tasks off an employee, that employee can focus on more complex and creative work, while the business doesn’t go with that task being left undone.
Once you get going with business process automation, it can apply to a wide range of different tasks and departments within the organisation. Manual labour-intensive (but simple) tasks such as purchase orders, time/attendance tracking, document management, data analysis, inventory management, email marketing, social media and appointment scheduling can all be automated in one way or another.
Business process automation can also mean simple office tasks. For example, if a customer calls in, rather than a receptionist answer the call and then direct it to the right person, an automated system could instead determine which department the customer wants to speak to, and then automatically forward the call to that department. The receptionist, meanwhile, unburned of one of the most time consuming tasks in their role, can transition to a broader office management role instead.
Is my business ready for business process automation?
With the examples above, automating the phone systems is a simple matter of investing in a hosted PBX solution with automatic call forwarding and queuing enabled. Where once this technology was not available to smaller businesses, the nbnTM has provided organisations of all sizes with fast Internet and a national infrastructure that empowers the business to take on cloud services. As an added benefit to the automation, hosted PBX systems are cheaper, as the business no longer needs to invest in hardware and maintenance for expensive PBX units and can instead outsource the technology to their ISP. All they need to do is pay a monthly fee for access.
Many of the other examples of business process automation involve the automation of documents and data use within the organisation, and this carries with it a security concern for many businesses.
For example, you don’t necessarily want your archive of business-critical documents running through public cloud environments. The solution that many businesses find that provides them with the advantages of business process automation while maintaining a security profile is Private IP Networks. Private IP Networks allow organisations to connect multiple sites nationwide using a high-performance Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network that applies to both data services and mission-critical applications. If all that sounds too tech-heavy, it simply means that a Private IP Network allows you to have remote workers and satellite offices connect to the overall network, and take advantage of any automation applications that you’ve rolled out.
It’s also important to consider a hosted firewall, which Aussie Broadband provides to its customers. Small businesses can rarely afford enterprise-grade security solutions, and hackers tend to be aware of that. Once they’ve sniffed out that a small business is running automation, they’ll try and have a look at what’s available. Via a hosted firewall a business can be sure that they’re getting best-of-breed security technology that is maintained 24/7 by specialists.
How do I implement business process automation?
Most of the business process automation applications that you might want to implement will be attached to your Customer relationship management (CRM), Enterprise resource planning (ERM), or other critical business process piece of software. There are a couple of different approaches that you can take here:
- You can develop automation yourself. This would require that you have access to significant IT resources, however, including coders, and can be expensive, particularly if you’re just starting out in automation.
- You can purchase “off-the-shelf” automation solutions. Most major CRM and ERP software applications have any number of third parties that have developed automation solutions. You simply buy those (either up-front or via a cloud monthly subscription) and connect them up to your systems. It’s a low-tech way to do things, though naturally the automation might not be ideal for your business, as each business has specific ways of doing things and off-the-shelf solutions are by design one size fits all.
If your business is on the nbnTM and using technology to work, then you should be looking for opportunities for business process automation. Not only does it improve the productivity and efficiency within the business, but unburdened from the menial, repetitive parts of their jobs, your employees will be more creative and invested in their work.