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Reduce Friction: Leverage Automation to Optimize Business Processes

Business team using automation to streamline important tasks

The word “automation” has been used to describe so many things in today’s technological world that it’s almost too vague to define. In the past, automation was typically associated with manufacturing and IT processes, but now it’s applicable to nearly every business area. And with major breakthroughs recently in artificial intelligence (AI) plus the rise of digital transformation, nearly every business wants to leverage automation in some capacity.

Automation allows for a range of business benefits, such as streamlining tasks, reducing ongoing costs, improving work accuracy, etc., so it makes perfect sense that businesses are looking to incorporate it into their operations as much as possible. Using automation effectively, however, is so much more than just saying, “let’s automate that” and moving on.

Before your business starts automating tasks left and right at your organization, it’s important to take a step back and consider why you’re wanting to automate in the first place. Here are three key considerations you should make when determining how and where to leverage automation in your business.

What Needs to Be Automated?

Where are manual tasks hindering your business? There’s this common sentiment in the marketplace that going digital will solve every business hurdle, but it’s not wise or cost-effective to perform mass technology upgrades, even if there are numerous software options available. Review your business metrics and reports to help determine what operational issues need to be addressed. This way you will know exactly what problem you’re aiming for automation to solve and can better research your options. Adopting new technology is often a significant investment, so prioritizing which business functions would benefit from automation can also help you plan your expenditures.

What needs to be automated at your business will, of course, depend on your unique situation, but some businesses are utilizing automation to:

  • Monitor pricing and compensation trends to stay competitive in the marketplace
  • Identify trends and common themes in their data to help better inform business decisions in real time or even provide predictive analytics to forecast future needs
  • Streamline financial tasks, such as payroll, budgeting and forecasting
  • Enhance marketing efforts through audience segmentation, content scheduling, engagement tracking, lead scoring and more
  • Collect and monitor client feedback and streamline client interactions through tools like AI chatbots

These are just a few of the countless ways automation could innovate and optimize your business processes, but you may not need assistance with them all. Use your business data to help you strategize which automation solutions make the most sense for achieving your goals.

Do Your Underlying Processes Work?

Automation is built around an existing process. If you plan to follow the same process you’ve been following after using new technology to automate it, you have to ask yourself, “Did the existing process work?” It’s true automation can streamline a multitude of tasks, like transforming a paper process into a digital one, but if the underlying process has its fair share of issues, it’s likely some of those issues will remain even after an upgrade.

As you research automation solutions, also evaluate your existing processes to see if there are opportunities to improve them; otherwise, when you do implement new software, you may just be repeating a bad process with a few less handoffs.

Will Automating Lead to More Disparate Systems?

Because of the pressure to digitalize everything, it’s tempting for businesses to buy new software for each of their departments. This strategy may allow for increased automation, but it could also create a mess of disparate data systems. Having multiple software programs may not seem like a big deal, and it isn’t at first — but the more systems you add to your technology stack, the more difficult it becomes to manage them all. Disparate systems can limit your ability to:

  • Track the data you need to make real-time, informed business decisions
  • Create reliable and accessible reports in a timely manner
  • Determine the cause of an issue, what went wrong and who was involved
  • Implement consistent cybersecurity protocols to help protect your data

When considering any software upgrade, see if there are any opportunities to integrate the new technology with existing software so that you can centralize your data as much as possible. The fewer data sources you have, the easier it is to manage, optimize and protect your data as your business grows.

Knowing when — and what processes — to automate in your business can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. At Creative Planning Business Services, we provide clients with the expertise and resources to innovate and secure their business processes. Contact us today to explore our services and learn how we can help take your technology to the next level.

This commentary is provided for general information purposes only, should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice, and does not constitute an attorney/client relationship. Past performance of any market results is no assurance of future performance. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.

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