Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can save a lot of money and time when they control processes with the use of software. And this software can be leveraged across numerous business processes. Read here where the use of automation is particularly worthwhile in a company – based on six examples.
Automation of business processes advances
The recent crises have given digitalisation a hard push. Following the initial tidal waves of change, as seen in remote working and virtual meetings, other technological options are now stepping into the limelight. These include the automation of all kinds of business processes.
The value that automation provides today is underscored by the Kofax Intelligent Automation Benchmark Study 2022, based on statements from 800 managers from 21 industries and 10 countries. With a focus on the findings from Germany: 93 per cent of those surveyed believe that the automation of business work processes following the Covid crisis will ensure seamless business operations. And 85 per cent want to implement end-to-end digitalisation as soon as possible.
This development should also not be ignored by small companies – after all, a further finding shows that 91 per cent of the participants believe: “Companies enjoy competitive advantages”. In times of a lack of resources, of expensive raw materials, skyrocketing energy prices, inflation and fragile supply chains, these advantages are particularly important.
But where can small companies start to implement automation? Here are six recommendations for getting started:
These 6 departments profit strongly from automation
In close, digital collaboration with Sales, Marketing can use automation to truly unfold its sales-pushing effect. Especially personalised communication for existing and potential customers is one of the promising measures. This can be achieved with the use of tools that enable the exchange of data between Sales and Marketing, and which interconnect other relevant departments. Based on this, campaign management can be much more efficient.
The result: digitally steered communication that is automatically transported at the right time, on the right channels, and which individually speaks to the needs of the target group as far as possible while offering suitable solutions or information. The autonomous organisation of these factors boosts the effectiveness of marketing and, at the same time, lowers efforts and time needed by personnel.
Today, for instance, marketing automation supports the sending of emails, feeds social media channels with content, generates leads and improves both reporting as well as the evaluation of campaigns.
2. Customer service
Satisfied customers form the backbone of business success. Which is why every company should ensure they foster good relationships with their customer base. But appropriate, extensive support requires resources: personnel, time and financial. Automation therefore makes customer service processes and tasks much easier.
Automated optical text recognition (OCR) speeds up the reaction to written customer requests, lowers the error rate and relieves personnel of additional work.
Robotic process automation (RPA) goes a step further. It involves software which takes charge of essential tasks within customer service. It not only handles requests – it also serves as an interface to other programs or departments. It can orchestrate tasks in the back office or handle standardised, repetitive tasks, or be in direct contact with customers such as with high-quality chat bots. ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence can open up completely new opportunities in this respect.
Companies also profit from automation in regards to payment processes. This effects first and foremost transactions with B2B partners. Payment automation systems can improve supplier relationships either directly or indirectly to save costs or to minimise the risk of fraud.
Payment automation prevents many kinds of errors which can occur during manual processing. These include double or late payments. Other benefits of digital payment processes are more transparency, lower costs, scalability and speed.
4. Customer relationship management (CRM)
Another application that automation is suitable for is customer relationship management (CRM). It can be linked to the above-described departments – marketing, customer service, and payments – and be harnessed as their central element – collecting and handling all customer data in a single digital hub.
This makes CRM the source and starting point for numerous processes and, as a result, an ideal candidate for automation within a company.
For manufacturers, logistics and its subsequent organisational tasks are a major factor tying up the workforce. Automation in this department lowers efforts needed and, at the same time, serves to improve efficiency, productivity, and process quality.
This is achieved by the use of long-term planning, amongst others, which can predict or absorb both replenishment as well as personnel peaks, respectively. What’s more, transport routes can be planned faster, goods packing organised more easily, and stocks monitored quickly.
6. Human resources
Robotic process automation is today a buzz word that many human resource (HR) staff are also familiar with. They are already using the technology in several areas of HR. The most frequent application scenarios include candidate communication and selection, management of application documents, and onboarding – as well as account and legal organisation, travel and expenses management, salary payments and holiday planning.