Automation plays a pivotal role in many industries - from manufacturing, to warehouses to transport. Automation may often be thought of as part of large scale processes that involve clever robotics to make it happen.
In reality, automation can be as small as your heating automatically turning on when you leave the office (based on your location) or to give a work-related example, your receipts automatically being sent to finance when you scan them into the printer.
In effect, automation can be used as a way to make processes more efficient, less time consuming and more cost effective.
In order to move towards more automated processes in 2020 and beyond, there are a few different ways to get started.
When approaching any sort of business automation, transformation or digitisation, there might be a temptation to go all in and see what comes with it. For some organisations this approach might work, although there is a lot of change management involved.
Starting small can be a better approach for many companies as it gives a flavour of the benefits that can come from automation without the same need for change management and complex set-up.
A great place to start with smaller elements of process automation is multifunctional printer apps. These are apps that you can install on your printer that link to other business software such as your cloud storage or expenses system.
With the example of an expenses app, a user can scan in all of their expense receipts in one go and then submit them directly to the finance department through the printing app - this small element of automation saves time and makes the process more efficient.
Identify paper-heavy processes
Paper causes digital gaps in processes and can also slow a process down. By reviewing your business processes and identifying heavy paper processes, you can start to find the processes that would benefit most from digital transformation and automation.
As with above, these don’t have to be business critical processes and it might just identify where small pockets of time can be saved by adding in elements of automation.
The best way to go about identifying paper-heavy processes is to get an assessment that looks at devices, user and document analytics and processes currently in the business.
Digitise common paper processes
Paper is used for a lot of different reasons, but with technology advancing all the time, many uses of paper now have a digital alternative that can involve automation.
Take something as simple as signing a document, in which you may need to print a document you’ve been sent, sign in and then scan it back in, or worse still, send the signed version in the post. By replacing the need for a wet-ink signature with a digital secure e-signature, the whole process can be reduced to sending someone a link, they sign it digitally and then you’re notified when it’s been signed.
Again, they’re not necessarily processes that will change the company once automated, but they are good ways to get started before tackling more complex processes that do have an overall impact on the business.
Automation doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. While robotics process automation and intelligent workplace automation can help to transform business processes, starting with some of the ideas above can introduce the company to automation while gaining benefits such as cost savings, increased productivity and less paper usage.