There’s no better time to update your business processes than now. The recent economic meltdown has indeed left businesses and trade struggling to survive, but this is when innovation is needed most. Making processes and operations run more efficiently and effectively will save your enterprise now and help it adapt to the new norm. One of the best ways to tighten operations is through business process automation.
Automation has been around for a while now. Many organizations can attest to how much productivity, efficiency, and precision automated processes have afforded them. But it’s also not without flaws. This article will discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of business process automation. If you own or manage a business, this may be your lifeline.
Most industries already use automation to some degree. These automated processes scale up or down depending on the nature and size of the business. They all deliver efficiency and productivity when done right. Over recent years, more enterprises are automating more processes because of these benefits.
Automation can also be classified into two major distinctions: digital automation and robotics. These two are the most common applications in businesses. They work extremely well with other technological innovations like big data processing and machine learning.
The use of automated applications for operations like timekeeping, bookkeeping, project management and others offers businesses an excellent way of staying on top of these tasks without investing as much time or resources as would have been previously required. The mere process of switching to mostly digital files gives these automatic applications all the access they need to scale operations up to a level that would have taken significant man-hours before.
A practice’s revenue cycle management service, for example, can shave hours’ worth of work off from a clinic’s staff. It also ensures that the very sensitive financial records are kept immaculately, reducing human error and increasing credibility and business confidence.
This is a trend in digital automation. Files are maintained and used perfectly. Processes are done faster, more effectively, and more precisely.
So, what could possibly be the disadvantages of digital automation?
One con of employing the use of digital automation is the skills gap that it creates. Complacency is one issue that can easily be addressed by a change in mindset, but it’s an existing issue nonetheless. When automated tasks perform significantly better than the alternative, it’s normal to leave the task solely to the process.
However, this may eventually mean losing the ability to do said task, or worse, losing the ability to check whether the task is still being done correctly by the automated machinery. Imagine not having to add for so long that you forgot how and how to check whether the calculator is doing it right. Automation is an extremely helpful tool, as long as people still stay on top of the process, making sure things run smoothly.
There’s also the minor issue of adopting the technology in the first place. Although many businesses would prefer a plug and play approach, there’s some value in understanding the automation process itself. At the very least, it’ll be easier to direct said process into other ventures when necessary.
When people hear automation, most imagine a slew of robotic arms populating the production line of some factory, moving seamlessly, tirelessly. That picture is so vivid because it has already been real for many manufacturing organizations for some time now. Gone are the days when human hands guide the production of goods in every single part of the process. In fact, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, manufacturing is one of the most important applications for automation.
But robotics in the production line doesn’t only make the process more efficient and productive, it also keeps the workforce safe from hazards. These processes usually involve heavy machinery and extreme temperatures. In fact, according to Travelers, over 100,000 workers get injured in their manufacturing jobs each year. Robotics has the power to significantly limit this number.
Robotics is also not as threatening to the blue-collar worker as many have made it out to be. According to Forbes, only less than 10 percent of jobs can be completely automated. And even then, these processes will not make human contribution obsolete. Automation will only elevate and empower workers to be able to focus on more dynamic work.
This will also free up the organization to reinvest its resources into further training for its staff. The same Forbes article also mentions how companies like Amazon, L’Oreal, and Adobe are already investing in the education of their employees. They want to broaden their skill set so they can take on new roles.
But robotics does have one big disadvantage. The initial cost of investing in this technology continues to be a wall between many businesses and this future. The ongoing maintenance and running costs for robotics are also considerable factors. It’s easy to argue that they will eventually pay for themselves, but for businesses that are struggling to make ends meet right now, it’s not a risk they’re comfortable taking.
The advantages of automation are there and they are many. However, there are still some trade-offs, both small and large, to transitioning to these technologies. Weigh your options and see what’s right for your business.