How to Decide When To Automate?

How to Decide When to Automate

Lets face it, we all get frustrated sometimes with many of the mundane and repetitive tasks we complete daily. But should we keep repeating the same frustrating tasks if they can be automated? Continue reading and I will give you pointers how to decide whether they are worth automating, and at what costs. Its only 5 steps.

When I was starting my career in software, I worked for a company that had created a mass production management system. My task was testing, bug hunting and fixing issues with the production version. My colleague, who had built the system, was extremely talented and really helped me understand the fundamental principles to building and maintaining high performance systems. We talked in length about how to develop and improve processes and how to automate tasks to make our development efforts easier. Many of those principles can be applied to everyday life outside of software development. One of the areas fits todays topic well; task automation.

When designing processes and systems, you should always consider automating repetitive tasks or functions. If you have a feeling that you’ll have to do it twice, automate it.

The main learning from that particular discussion was, that often when creating new processes, its difficult to recognize the parts that will begin to repeat throughout the process. This is even more prevalent in software development. In reality tasks will keep repeating more than twice and that is key to saving time and making processes more error free and efficient.

How does this apply to day to day business processes? These 5 steps will help you evaluate when its time to automate the tasks in your business process.

  1. Identify Main Business Processes

This can sometimes be difficult. You should start by defining the business processes your company has in place. For an example, write down what happens when a customer emails into customer service wanting to make a purchase of your product or service. Recognizing the processes in your business with detail is key.

  1. Identify Repetitive Tasks In Your Business Process.

It is said, that a third of tasks can be automated. In our example, a repetitive task can be processing the email into an order or asking more detailed questions from the customer. Once these tasks are identified, its much easier to start understanding the automation capabilities and value. Remember, that you are not likely the only person completing the same tasks in your organization.

  1. Create A Points System For Repetitive Tasks To Evaluate and Assign Value.

The goal is to look at these tasks from business perspective and apply a points system to evaluate if it makes sense to automate it. We have successfully used a method where you analyze three things to assign a final score.

Choose a time period. Count the times the task is being completed. Count how many people are completing the task and finally how many steps are involved in completing the task. Multiple these numbers together to get a numeric value. Higher value items are prime candidate for automation.

Lets assign a value to our example. Customer Service team has indicated that they receive on average 100 emails a week and it takes 2 people to process the emails into orders. To complete one email task takes 5 steps. This gives as a weekly value of 100 x 2 x 5 = 1000 points.

In addition to the points value, you can evaluate how much time automation would save and add other values such as customer/employee satisfaction.

  1. Design Production Capable Automation Plan

This is where most companies struggle. Understanding which tasks can be automated, how and which tools to use is key to creating production ready solutions to make the process more efficient. Start by identifying if your organization already has knowledge and implementation capability to help you with automation. If not, reach out to automation companies such as Texas Software and start your automation journey.

  1. Choose The Correct Tools And Deploy

Automating your business process should be a multilevel approach. But it doesn’t mean that automating single tasks should be undervalued. In our example, automating just this one tasks would present great value for the business process. Terms like RPA, Low Code and BPA are often hard to understand how they would help daily work load, but methodical approach will help you get things done.

Final Words

When automating, you should take the mentality of production capable or enterprise ready automation. This is key to long term benefits and efficiency. After all, you don’t want to create more work for yourself and become a technology company. Automation is here to save time and increase productivity. These steps will help identify tasks you can automate. We can help you automate them.