(This is a contributed post)
One of the biggest tech buzzwords of the past few years has got to be “automation”. On the surface, automation is really easy to understand. You take something that takes a long time or is very tedious, you program a robot or write a script to perform it, then you theoretically save a lot of time. Sounds great since it promises to improve the flow of your business and help free up your work hours, but the reality is actually far different from that.
In practice, automation isn’t the time-saving wonder that everyone hypes it up to be. In reality, automation can take up a lot of your time, it can fail if programmed incorrectly and it can even slow down your business while drastically increasing operating costs. So in this post, we’ll be talking about some practical ways to implement automation in the workplace and how you can prevent it from turning into a complex and unproductive mess of systems.
Looking at real-world examples of automation
When people say automation, they’re not talking about robots that can type on your keyboard and arms that move things around for you. Perhaps in the context of a factory or production line they are, but in the office, it’s not practical to have physical automation. Instead, what most people refer to when they mention automation is the removal of tedious, repetitive and human-limited tasks.
A great example of practical automation would be automatically importing information from one file format to another despite incompatibilities. This is something that can be achieved with services such as MergeOS. The goal is to make two things work in harmony by automating potentially tedious and repetitive tasks that can be greatly sped up with the help of a computer. This saves you time, money and also gives you the opportunity to work on other things.
Another practical and common form of automation is automatically generating documents to send to your customers. For instance, if you’re running a freelance business, then there are applications where you can input your details and products, create invoices with the click of a button and send it to your clients. While this might not sound very fancy, it’s actually what automation is all about; speeding up tedious and repetitive tasks.
There are also other forms of automation that can be used to access information from multiple sources and compile them into reports with smart AI-based systems. These are a little more advanced since they’re adding a layer of complexity on top of the automation of a tedious task. However, it’s still automation, it’s still a little boring but it’s undoubtedly useful.
So what’s the problem with automation?
The problem with automation comes in the setup of these systems. Let’s face it, not every small company has a dedicated IT person on the team to set up these automated processes. It can be extremely expensive to hire an outside service to do it, and it might require consistent maintenance and troubleshooting if it’s your first time implementing it. As a result, most people don’t bother with adding automated processes to their workflow because it can be seen as expensive, troublesome and could ultimately break.
The initial setup time is something that you simply need to get over. The potential for errors and bugs should also be seen as a potential risk, but the time, effort and money you save should more than make up for it. Whatever the case is, you should consider these risks before investing in setting up any kind of automated processes. The setup cost of hiring a specialist should also be considered in the budget since it’ll save a lot of time, and you can always speak with experts if you ever need to troubleshoot something.
How to make automation work for your business
So to conclude, here are some of the biggest takeaways to make automation work for you:
While automation isn’t a silver bullet for your problems, it can greatly improve the efficiency and productivity of your business if used correctly, hence why so many business owners are willing to invest in it.