A 5-part series to share some warning signs and explore how automation may help.
Part 5 of 5: What does business automation look like?
In our experience, automation can take many forms depending on your existing IT infrastructure and the various software programs you use to run your business. Every company is different, and solutions can vary greatly. In some cases, the automation is simply an additional software program which runs alongside your existing software. This can be strategically applied to address the specific tasks or processes which have become problematic. In other cases, your business system may benefit from a partial or full replacement of the older parts which are slowing you down, such as that old database everyone is reliant upon. Ecommerce and Mobile applications are ways to automate order intake and processing. You may also see huge benefits from integrating new components to assist your team, such as scanning systems, RFID technology, or other elements to aid productivity.
By adding some well-conceived automation, it may be possible to solve some of the challenges which are burdening your organization. The tricky part is spending enough time digging into the specific processes and finding a vendor who is capable of “seeing the big picture” and helping you find your optimal solution. Our company generally spends multiple hours with a client, including interviews with various stakeholders, before we present a Statement of Work for a project. These projects take time to define, but once they are defined the results can be dramatic. Our company usually provides several potential options to a client before arriving at the preferred solution, and we feel it’s imperative to provide a clear ROI for any engagement.
Finally, be careful who you ask for help. Be wary of vendors who make early assumptions, try to pigeon-hole you, or who don’t offer a holistic approach. Companies who sell “off the shelf” software for business management will usually try to convince you their software can help you, even if it solves your specific problem by creating new wrinkles. Also, most commercial software companies charge fees for each employee license and will maintain full control of the IP for that software, forcing you to commit to that platform and an increasing schedule of fees for untold years. In contrast, custom automation software is generally developed for a specific client, who then owns their IP and can pay minimal ongoing fees to maintain it. And remember, simply purchasing some expensive software does not guarantee it will be thoughtfully and effectively implemented. Ultimately, you will face the challenge of installing, training, and maintaining any solution you choose. And while the vendors who currently manage your existing infrastructure may be great partners today, they may be reluctant to recommend any solutions which make them less relevant, such as recommending a new vendor as opposed to simply adding more software licenses for them to manage.
Business leaders should recognize their duty to find the right balance between humans and computers to manage and grow their business. By failing to better engage your IT systems to handle the increasing tedium of your workflows, your employees may be forced to carry this added burden in their training manuals and Post-it notes. Our best recommendation is to do your business a favor and consider whether automation could remove some obstacles from your path. Your employees and customers will thank you.
We hope you enjoyed this 5-part series and ask you to please share this information with someone in need. We welcome any conversations.