The business world today is going through what many call the VUCAP times. VUCAP is an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, with P signifying the Pandemic. It refers to the chaotic business conditions during crisis situations. Crisis includes global disruptions like pandemics, natural and man-made disasters, and economic downturns.
In such difficult times, supply chains get affected. Fewer people report to the office. And consumer expectations change. If organizations are not prepared, it becomes difficult to keep their business afloat.
One way to deal with such situations is automation. Now, if you’ve already automated most of your manual processes—great! But if you’re unfamiliar with business automation, you don’t need to worry!
In this article, we’ll explain:
- What is automation
- How it can help you prepare for any crisis
- What processes you can automate, and
- What tools you’d need.
Let’s get started.
What is Automation in Business?
Automation refers to the use of technology for automating repeatable and manual tasks. It allows companies to carry out business processes without or with minimal human intervention. It can simplify business, contain costs, improve service delivery and quality.
Here’s a list of things you can automate:
- Hiring and employee onboarding
- Work scheduling
- Attendance tracking
- Invoices and payments
- Expense management
- Lead generation and marketing
- Customer support
- Data management & security, etc.
Significance Of Automation In Business During Crisis
In a globalized economy, a crisis can cause ripple effects in business. In such times, automation can be your best friend. In fact, an EY report found that 41% of leaders invested in automation as they prepare for a post-covid world.
Let’s have a look at how automation can help businesses better prepare for any crisis:
1. More operational efficiency
As companies look to increase their profitability, automation can add operational value. Companies can leverage robotic process automation to take over manual processes from humans. In turn, people can allocate their time to high-value tasks like innovation instead of repetitive and data-heavy duties.
Automating business processes also helps to highlight flaws and drawbacks in workflows. This ultimately boosts process efficiency.
2. Better data management
Today, the amount of data generated by companies is increasing day by day. Working with this data manually can be time-consuming and lead to errors. Such situations call for the need to automate data management to fit organizational needs.
Automation can be as simple as using digital databases to store information. It makes data management effortless. Data management tools can help companies build and operate databases quickly and effectively. You can transfer data smoothly and role-based access can protect confidential information.
3. Efficient workforce management
Automating core HR tasks makes it easy for managers to do their duties, even in times of crisis. It can free them from tedious manual work and enables them to turn their energy in the right direction. Let’s take employee scheduling for instance.
Managing employee shifts and scheduling their timings manually can take a lot of time. Automating the task of scheduling the employees can help create an organized and efficient workplace. Moreover, it allows your employees to be more productive and responsible. At the same time, you save tons of hours from doing it manually and reduce employee no-call no-show.
Some other HR tasks to automate include alerts and reminders, payroll, report-generation, managing CVs, filling in information forms, collecting documents, setting up bank accounts, etc.
4. Improved customer service
Nobody likes slow, inefficient customer service. But maintaining a customer support team can be resource-intensive. And as remote work becomes inevitable, it gets tougher to ensure continuity in customer operations. The good news is that almost all customer relationship processes can be automated.
Moreover, changing customer behavior has compelled companies to accelerate automation measures. Consumers now prefer online ordering. They look for quick and personalized resolution of queries and uninterrupted availability.
So automating customer service can ensure 24/7 assistance without burdening your team. Self-service tools can save customer’s time and reduce frustration. AI-driven bots can humanize chats while handling many queries simultaneously.
5. Business continuity
In his book, The Infinity Game, Simon Sinek talks about Existential Flexibility. It refers to the ability of leaders to shift their vision in response to a rapidly changing market to remain competitive.
Sinek seeks to highlight the importance of being visionary in planning for business continuity. You cannot wait for a crisis to happen to respond to it. And one thing the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us—business automation is a survival imperative.
Rather than scrambling to enable remote working, you can use automation to build a digital workforce. Companies that proactively implemented automation stand at a massive advantage. Not only did it help them recover from the crisis, but it also ensured that their business remained more resilient.
6. Better Communication
With digital tools, it is now possible for businesses to communicate with employees and customers in real-time. People can collaborate faster, access information more rapidly, and get work done more efficiently.
Video conferencing apps can hold virtual meetings. You can use social media channels to disseminate important information to clients. Communication apps make collaboration with remote teams possible. Thus, businesses can continue functioning through a crisis.
Automation Best Practices
Automation at scale may seem daunting, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Nor do you have to get everything automated on day one.
Here are some tips for better and smoother automation:
- Encourage online presence. Now people are spending most of their time online. This means that businesses need to improve their online experiences. Start growing your reach on social media and build an attractive website. Publish high-value content and helpful product reviews.
- Digitize the easy processes first. Automation requires time, and people need time to get used to it. Automate one task at a time. Start with the cumbersome and repetitive tasks that don’t require human interaction. When you see that making a positive impact on your business performance, proceed to more complex automation.
- Get automation experts onboard. They can work in-house to help organizations gain comfort toward fully adopting automation.
Automation is changing businesses faster than we imagined. So we need to get ready now.
Start by evaluating your business needs and resources.
What do you want to achieve by automating your business? Do you want to increase employee productivity? Maybe you want to increase customer loyalty. Define your main goal and keep it specific.
There is no need to bring your business online at once. Start by enhancing your online presence and building relationships with your audience.
Try to keep a balance between human touch and automation. Re-skill employees to work with and alongside machines. Think of how automation can help make the customer and employee experience better.
Saurabh Wani is a digital marketer at ZoomShift, an employee scheduling tool. He has worked as an HR Recruiter for over 3 years before moving to marketing, where he defined the recruitment life-cycle that helped employees find the right job. He loves traveling and can be seen binge-watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S when he is not working.
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