What is under-automation?

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In today's fast-paced business world, there's little room for old ways of working. Particularly for growing businesses. Customers expect more, and so do your employees.

Despite the benefits that technology like cloud ERP can bring, there are still thousands of businesses across the UK unwilling or unsure of how to break free from under-automated processes. 

But what is under-automation? And is your business a culprit of dragging its heels in the modern age?

Defining under-automation 

Under-automation occurs when businesses rely on outdated and disconnected technology.

Examples of under-automation

  1. Manual data entry: Businesses heavily rely on manual data entry for tasks like managing orders, tracking inventory, or maintaining customer information.
  2. Paper-based processes: Companies still use paper-based methods for important operations such as invoicing, purchase orders, or employee timesheets. 
  3. Fragmented communication: Businesses depend on separate communication channels like emails, phone calls, and physical meetings without a centralised and automated system to streamline and track communication.
  4. Siloed systems: Different departments or teams within a business operate with disconnected systems and tools, resulting in inefficiencies, duplicated data, and challenges in collaboration or data sharing.
  5. Manual inventory management: Businesses rely on manual methods like physical stock counts or manual entry for inventory management.

The impact of under-automation

The truth is, legacy systems and workload automation tools are not only challenging to manage, but they also lack integration capabilities with other tools and platforms. Consequently, they are often used in isolation from other more established systems within the business. This leads to manual handoffs between disconnected automated activities in the short term, while in the long term, businesses may experience the following issues:

  1. Underutilised workforce: Outdated systems frustrate and disengage employees, particularly the younger workforce who prefer user-friendly software solutions. Automation allows for more meaningful and less monotonous work, improving employee satisfaction.
  2. Inadequate customer care: Lack of connectivity between channels, customer service teams, and warehouse staff can compromise customer service quality, adding strain to customer support teams.
  3. Inaccurate reporting and decision-making: Without integrated data from all departments feeding into quality reporting tools, decision making becomes slow and inconsistent. Teams fail to establish clear connections between their efforts and any shortcomings.
  4. Growth stagnation: Operations may continue, but the technical debt from workarounds and fixes accumulates. Less time is dedicated to innovation and growth, with more time spent resolving bottlenecks caused by disparate team workflows.

Breaking the barriers

Many businesses relying on manual processing mistakenly perceive automation as a luxury they cannot afford or do not have time for. However, this misconception only holds them back, with highly automated companies being six times more likely to achieve revenue growth of at least 15%. Implementing automation can generate a return on investment of up to 200% in the first year alone, primarily through labour savings.

The benefits of automation 

  1. Focus on meaningful tasks: Automation frees up businesses and employees to focus on more valuable and rewarding tasks.
  2. Streamline hiring processes: Fast-growing businesses require efficient hiring processes, and automation bridges the gap between job requirements and available resources.
  3. Discover quick wins: Identify opportunities for automation that may seem impossible until an experienced provider shows you the way. These "quick wins" can significantly improve efficiency.
  4. Gradual implementation: Automation doesn't have to be implemented all at once. It can be rolled out gradually, managing costs and keeping stakeholders satisfied.
  5. Unleash the power of your data: Automation provides valuable business data, often as important as the savings and efficiencies gained. Leverage this data to make informed decisions.

Navigating the next few years

Achieving growth as a small business is difficult without the right tools in place. In addition to keeping up with digital transformations, businesses must tackle labour shortages, rising costs and global unrest. However, by consolidating automation efforts and providing your team with the ability to manage their responsibilities in hybrid environments, without manual intervention, your business can create a foundation for growth and innovation. 

Interested in taking your first step with automation?