Automation is a beautiful thing. Imagine being able to reduce (or completely eliminate) repetitive labour-intensive administrative tasks for your teams – and empowering them to do more meaningful work.
No matter the scale or size of a business, automation always adds value. But, automation is changing – moving from being just a tool available to big businesses to one that’s accessible (and affordable) to almost anyone who needs to pass basic tasks on to a machine.
In fact, it can be particularly useful for smaller businesses – where fewer people tend to occupy more ‘all-rounder’ roles.
Let’s take a look at the eight administrative tasks that you can automate for your workforce to give them more time to do what they do best.
Payroll automation covers a wide range of administrative tasks – including calculating wages based on time worked, as well as compiling tax records for external bodies. Depending on the size of a business these tasks alone can often be a full-time job for a person – or even a whole team of people. The implications of mistakes in payroll are serious, either causing upset for staff who are incorrectly paid or potentially exposing the company to investigation by the tax authorities.
Accuracy and confidentiality are the utmost concerns here. But with an automated system, there are no concerns that information will be disclosed to anyone without proper access. And, providing it is programmed correctly, the chances of mistakes are extremely rare. In the event an anomaly does occur the standard procedure for a bot will be to flag the error to the human user who has oversight of the task.
In this way, professionals still have the final say – without the countless hours spent sifting through facts and figures.
Although a broad category, reporting makes up a good portion of many people’s day-to-day work. As a common admin practice, most reporting is repetitive and often occurs at the same time each day, week, or month to fulfil part of a business obligation. However, many of these reports can be easily automated – freeing up valuable time for multiple teams throughout all kinds of businesses.
Because manual reporting can be such a time sink, the savings from using automation will give staff the capacity to look at the data in more detail, or even improve the way the reporting is carried out. The information can always be manually filtered after the report is generated; allowing the user to factor in their own knowledge to gain deeper insight into each report as needed.
Staying on top of processes can be an excellent way to understand efficiency, experience requirements, and costs. For example, you could be creating a training programme for new business activities and need to understand how long processes take so that you can prepare learners as best as possible. Or you might be investigating the time, cost, and effort required to roll out a new product line in a manufacturing facility.
By automating time tracking for these tasks, you can guarantee that process duration is accurately recorded every time the job is completed. This takes away the need for a person to physically monitor activity – and also means that multiple tasks can be monitored at once.
Very often, automation is sold as a fantastic way to deal with large data sets – without the need for human intervention. While this is very true, sometimes the other side of the data stream is forgotten. Converting data from reams of paper, or even from another software platform, can take a large amount of time – and manual input errors are pretty much guaranteed.
With the technology we now have, automation makes light work of data entry. Programmes which recognise text or handwriting can absorb data at a much higher rate than a human can – and export it in a format that can be used on any system.
Managing teams of people can be complicated – but looking after schedules and making sure activities are carried out by the right people at the right time doesn’t have to be. With a rise in auto schedulers, you can leverage the power of AI to ensure you have all your bases covered.
You can start by supplying your automation tool with information about your staff – such as their qualifications, completed modules of training, and hours available; alongside details of the jobs that need to be completed. The bot will then assign staff based on their capability and availability to whatever task needs to be completed.
While project management cannot be fully automated – as human oversight is critical in dealing with unexpected occurrences and complications – some of the tasks that make up a PM’s day certainly can be. For instance, monitoring aspects of projects involves manually checking lots of different things – including missed deadlines, overburdened resources, or changes in critical path.
These things require fixing by the project manager themselves, but the process of checking their states can be handled easily through automation. This helps ensure that nothing is missed and that important changes are reported when they occur.
Collecting Customer Data
Being able to capture information about and from your customers is a great way to help your sales team. But to do so you need to ensure no potential data is missed. It might seem like a basic solution, but as a type of automation, online contact forms are an excellent way to capture information 24/7 and immediately feed it into your CRM system.
A bot like this can handle a huge number of inputs at once and you can set validation checks to make sure that the information gathered is accurate, consistent, and appropriate for your use.
For any administrative task which involves the transfer of funds, or the analysis of that transaction, the process must be secure, accurate, and fast. Ensuring compliance with the relevant tax authority, as well as providing timely reimbursement to staff, is vital too.
Automation can take away the stress of accomplishing all these things – without input from your teams. All that’s needed is basic information about the task: such as the expense amount, employee details, and tax implications.
No more chasing teams for paper receipts, or asking them to spend non-billable time completing multiple spreadsheets to declare their expenses. The right automated expense solution can do it all.
As you can see, there’s a wide variety of common, but important, administrative tasks that automation can take care of. We’ve only scratched the surface here, but the best thing you can do is look deeper into your business to find the areas that are a drain on your team’s time. Wherever you find labour intensive, accuracy-critical tasks, there’s a good chance they can be automated.
All things considered, automation is just one of the ways in which businesses are changing; in line with broader digital transformation objectives. The innovation stakes are hotting up. Customers expect more. Companies that can spend more time meeting their customers’ needs are those that will thrive.
With that in mind, for many businesses it’s less a case of ‘can we afford automation?’ and more ‘how do we get started?’.