Process & Workflow

What is Process Automation?

Mar 12, 2021
Post Masthead

You probably follow 100 processes a day to get things done.

Think about the simplest process you follow every day. For example, think about how many times you copy and paste on a daily basis. In fact, using keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste was probably one of the first commands you learned on a computer. However, there are at least 50 different ways you can automate this seemingly easy task that you probably do 1700 times a day without thinking.

Once you are able to see how much time automation saves you, you can then begin to explore how it can help you conquer more repetitive tasks, such as preparing for a client call, generating a report, nurturing a new lead or prospect, or billing existing customers.

Think about your day-to-day processes for a moment. How many of them could be more efficient? Now, ask yourself: How many of those clunky, inefficient processes could be automated?

Automating processes, or putting them on “autopilot” is a tried and true way to easily boost productivity, efficiency, and reduce costs. In this article, we will explain what process automation is and why it is important for the growth of your business.

What is Process Management?

Why Does Process Management Matter?

If you've been reading our articles on process management, then you likely have a good understanding of what it is by now. If you haven't, in short, process management involves overseeing and monitoring all processes within a team, department, or organization. It focuses on what each process is designed to accomplish, who is accountable for outcomes, and what activities need to be completed. All in all, process management is about doing things repeatedly.

If you started reading this and thinking about your own processes, “the way we work is just fine. Things get done and customers are (mostly) satisfied.” That’s great! But we are willing to bet that there could be at least some room for improvement, or an opportunity to automate a process that will save you and your team time.

Clunky and inefficient processes often result in the following issues:

  • Angry or dissatisfied customers
  • Low team morale
  • Frustrated team members
  • Redoing or duplicating work
  • Wasting money
  • Getting stuck in bottlenecks
  • Missing deadlines

Furthermore, even if your existing processes are working just fine, process management can help your business remain competitive and successful. Here’s how:

  • Maintain customer or client satisfaction
  • Improve productivity and efficiency
  • Reduce costs and overall bottom line
  • Streamline the way you and your team work

Process management is more important than what you may realize. Therefore, the continuous practice of improving and optimizing processes is a good ritual to adopt. Good process management then leads to identifying opportunities to leverage process automation, which brings us to our next point…

What is Process Automation?

Now that you understand what process management is and why it’s important, let’s take things a step further and talk about process automation. As we started off with this article, process automation is identifying some processes that could be more efficient, and putting them on autopilot, or setting the “cruise control” button on them.

Process automation typically involves using technology to automate specific business processes and workflows. The end goals of automation tend to be reducing costs while increasing productivity.

Here are some benefits of process automation:

  • Reduce operational costs
  • Reduce errors
  • Increase quality
  • Improve team member morale
  • Increase team productivity
  • Deliver better customer experiences
  • Save time
  • Establish a level of governance and accountability

Which Processes Should You Automate? 

So, how do you know what processes to automate? Is every process a good candidate for automation?

Here are some common process automation use cases:

  1. Shipping and Distribution Logistics – This is a big one, especially for eCommerce businesses. Some great opportunities for automating processes include product shipment labeling, tracking, and other fulfillment logistics.
  2. Sales and Marketing – Automating processes can include sending automated emails or text messages, proposals, reports, and other lead or customer touchpoints.
  3. IT – Some common examples include performing backups; sending maintenance and status reports, notifications, and alerts; issuing user support tickets, and more.
  4. Finance - The finance industry is one that has greatly benefited from process automation, particularly with establishing and maintaining compliance. Finance leaders and professionals automate processes such as accounts payable and contract management.
  5. Customer Service - This is another big area for process automation. Many companies have set up digital assistants to handle basic customer service operations. They are also designed to collect and process customer data, share product-related information, and recommend potential solutions to customers who contact customer service with issues or complaints.
  6. Human Resources - Human resources departments use process automation for tasks such as onboarding new hires, processing payroll, communicating employee benefits options, training, and other related tasks.

How to Build Process Automation

So you now know what process management and process automation are and why both are important, but now how do you build process automation? Where do you start?

  1. Identify Core Processes. First, make a quick list of your core processes. This means the top three or five processes that are most important. Typically these are any type of “support” processes that involve working with clients or generating income for the business.
  2. Map Out the Ideal Process. Now that you have some core processes in mind, take a few minutes and map out what the ideal process would look like for it (if money and resources were no object, of course).
  3. Pinpoint Areas to Automate. Take a minute and look at your process maps. Are there specific tasks or areas that could be automated? This step might require you to think differently about how your team is currently working. Take some time to get input from your team to help you understand how and where processes can be automated.
  4. Assess Resource Capabilities. Look at your current tech stack or the resources you use to execute specific tasks. Are you maximizing those tools or resources, or are could you be leveraging them better? Are your current resources and tools working for you, or is it time for an upgrade?

After taking some time to reflect on these points above, you are now ready to optimize your existing processes, build new processes, and maybe even start automating some of them.

Here are some ways to help determine which processes might be good candidates for automation:

  • The process is repetitive and repeatable.
  • The process could be scaled.
  • The process doesn’t require human intervention for completion.
  • The process must be error-free and consistent.

All in all, the goal of automating processes should be to minimize human errors, increase productivity and accountability, and provide your team with the necessary tools and resources to make their jobs easier and to enable them to get their work done as effectively as possible.

Save Time with Process Automation Software

If you are looking for ways to improve your existing processes, or are trying to get started with process automation for tracking and optimizing all your processes and workflows, then start with a process automation tool that easy to set up yet is also highly robust and affordable.

Rindle is an awesome example of process automation software. It provides you and your team with all the capabilities you need to put your processes on cruise control. If your goal is to improve customer experiences, reduce operational or some overhead costs, then Rindle just might be the solution you’ve been looking for. Check out Rindle today for free. Or check out the Rindle eBook for additional information!