Five processes every business should automate

Automating business processes can have several benefits for your business, from minimising errors and inefficiencies to streamlining communications to increasing accountability. Here are five processes you should be automating right now.

Automating business processes can have several benefits for your business, from minimising errors and inefficiencies to streamlining communications to increasing accountability. Here are five processes you should be automating right now.

1. Document and records management
With the introduction of new privacy laws and an increasing focus on data protection, it is vital that businesses have the right processes in place to remain compliant. An automated document and records management system improves governance and accountability around business documentation and reduces the risk of data loss or duplication.

Businesses should also consider a form and workflow system. By replacing paper forms with electronic forms and workflow approvals, organisations can reduce costs and improve productivity as well as increase overall agility.

2. Claims/booking/invoice management
While many companies have automated some of the invoice process, there are few that really have an end-to-end solution. With invoices coming in by email, fax and post, it can be difficult to keep track of what should be paid when. Each invoice must be captured, key information extracted, validated, input into the correct system, approved and stored for any future queries.  

There are very sophisticated systems available to automate all these systems, from scanning, cleaning and validating incoming invoices, to sending the details to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and document systems. These systems automatically extract invoices from emails and send them to the processing engine, automatically recognising key information.

3. Customer relationship management/data management
Managing the vast amount of customer data needed to provide personalised service can be challenging. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems help businesses manage their relationships and plan, execute and measure their marketing campaigns more effectively.

Standardising and centralising data makes information easily accessible, allowing businesses to identify target audiences and reduce the cost of customer acquisition. Once a customer is acquired, a CRM system will let an organisation monitor customer satisfaction levels, reduce response times and better forecast sales. All these benefits go towards improving productivity, reducing cost and increasing revenue.

4. Human resources processes
Human Resources (HR) is a major pull on resources for many businesses. HR also provides a fertile ground for reducing cost and improving productivity through automation. Every stage of the employee lifecycle can be automated, including role and vacancy management, employee on-boarding, and feedback and performance management. Automation can also provide simpler and more intuitive processes for leave, expenses and travel requests, reducing the amount of time and resources required to complete them.

5. IT processes
Most businesses still have a ‘ring the IT guy’ approach to issues with technology. This kind of approach is fragmented and often results in non-essential tasks being completed first. Automated IT provision can be used for issue tracking, asset management, change requests and access requests. Automating IT processes can also help improve the safety and validity of your network through automatically controlling access levels and firewall provisioning.

Andy Neumann is Managing Director of OBS.

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