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Is Your Company Ready For Automation?

Posted by Henry Cheang | March 5, 2014 8:00 AM

Business process automation is here.

There are many conflicting views on the impact that automating business processes will have on organizations. To clarify, Business Process Automation is a process wherein data, information, and processes related to business are managed with technology as a means of driving down costs. Some claim that spending money on such automation yields poor returns on investment, or will outright create losses on the bottom line. Others believe automation can only be a boon.business process automation saves money

Regardless of your stance, it cannot be denied that business automation is a fact of modern businesses that continues to grow at lightning speeds. Virtually all big businesses have heavily automated the majority of their business processes. There are good reasons underlying this collective decision to adopt automation; you’d be wise to know and understand them. Fortunately, they are easy to grasp.

Businesses without automation are losing out. Badly.

The most easily-appreciable reason for businesses to adopt automation is cost. Here are some truly unbelievable losses in the United States due to poor organization, as uncovered by the Brother International Corporation in  their 2010 survey of office workers:

  • Each office worker loses up to 38 working hours per year simply looking for misplaced office items
  • 66% of office workers have spent up to 30 minutes of time per typical work week looking for misplaced items
  • 46% of office workers have lost one of the following items in the past year - file folders, mobile phones, calculators, briefcases, suitcase, electronic storage devices, PDAs, or laptop computers!
  • The estimated value of productivity lost due to time spent looking for misplaced items in the office is equivalent to $99 BILLION CDN per year.

Americans aren’t alone in experiencing such issues. Even in smaller economies, lack of automation causes massive losses. For example, UK businesses collectively lose an annual amount equivalent to $434 million CDN simply through searching for lost or hard-to-find paper files. Extrapolating outward, the global loss in productivity would be truly astronomical. All of this waste – just because hard copies are hard to manage.

It’s little wonder that progressively more people are extremely receptive to paperless offices and automated processes. And while it’s tempting to dismiss automation as a fad among the young and frivolous, it would also be a serious mistake. Automation isn’t just the wave of the future; it’s already here.

Younger, more educated executives and managers who already had deep daily lifestyle ties to technology represent only one driving force toward greater office automation and IT use in companies. It has been noted that large companies made the move to widescale automation some time ago, having long since recognized the potential benefits of office automation. They’re starting to preferentially partner with companies that have automated processes. There are very concrete reasons why.

Benefits of office automation, by the numbers.

Here are four very notable examples (among many) of how automating various business processes saved money and increased productivity (statistics compiled by Professor Mohsen Attaran): 

  • R.J. Reynolds – Automation of their Accounts Payable function resulted in:
    • 53% reduction in invoice processing costs
    • 25% decrease in clerical staffing requirements
    • 16% increase in transactions volume 
  • Frito Lay – Automation of their purchasing processes resulted in:
    • Savings of between 30,000 to 50,000 work hours per year
    • 10% reduction in distribution centres 
  • Cisco Systems – Adoption of web-based customer relationship management resulted in:
    • Elimination of 75,000 customer phone calls per month
    • Savings of over $270 million in annual operating expenses
  • Emerson – Adoption of web-based procurement processes resulted in:
    • Consolidation of buying activity across 60 divisions
    • Savings of an estimated $500 million over four years

The results speak for themselves. Good automation works.

Is there a simple way forward?                    

Now, to the uninitiated (and even the initiated, for that matter), automating business processes is typically challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. There are comprehensive resources offered by firms whose sole mandate is to make business process automation painless for the end user. Take, for example, technology expense management (TEM) companies.

As businesses and their employees purchase and use ever-growing fleets of technological devices and services for their day-to-day activities, it is becoming increasingly more challenging to manage everything. With TEM software, the challenge absolutely disappears. Take, for example, Cimpl – the newest software offering by Canada’s top TEM provider. Cimpl is simply the best asset and telecom expense management software - it takes the arduous, painstaking chores of tracking all hardware devices, monitoring all data usage, and verifying all service plans, and makes them all, well, simple

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Topics: Business Automation, Tips, tem, Solution, Benefits

Written by Henry Cheang

Henry has a lifelong passion for science and technology. This enthusiasm is put to good use in a cutting-edge software company like Cimpl. As product marketer, Henry researches market and user needs to develop user and buyer personas, contributes to product design, and helps coordinate product messaging. Henry also writes nearly the entirety of all documentation for Cimpl’s many successful platforms. In his spare time, Henry devotes much energy to family, friends, and martial arts. Henry recently completed his Master’s in Business and Administration from Concordia University, where he specialized in the study of marketing, organizational behavior, and corporate governance. He has authored academic papers on the latter two subjects; these papers form part of his bibliography of over 20 professional research publications.

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