Repetitive tasks are the target of many strategies for digitally transforming a business.
When decision makers discuss options for implementing digital solutions, it’s typically centered around improving productivity and competitiveness.
To achieve this, automation can be implemented, and the increasing affordability of automative technology is making it a lot easier for SMBs to adopt.
McKinsey estimates that in 60% of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated.
Most SMB decision makers will be all-too-familiar with the hassle of streamlining their departments and attempting to keep costs down to a minimum, so automation is an essential tool for in today’s business environment.
If you’re considering automation but are unsure on how exactly it can help, then this blog is for you.
See how Scripts RX saved hours every day by automating the processing of handwritten prescriptions with Impact's detailed case study.
The Costs of Not Automating Your Business
Today we’re going to be taking a look at how repetitive tasks are a money drain for small and midsize businesses and how automation can help put your resources to much better use.
Common manual processes, like using spreadsheets instead of accounting apps; using paper-based systems; and handwritten data, can cost a fortune.
They are often left unresolved by decision makers because of a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Perhaps processes are not broken, but can they be improved drastically? Absolutely.
A study found that 22% of an employee’s time is spent on repetitive tasks. Over the course of a year, imagine how much money is wasted by workers spending time on manual tasks that can now be automated.
Why Should You Care About Repetitive Tasks?
When organizations pursue an automation initiative with a service provider like Impact, consultants will often advise targeting “low-hanging fruit”.
By this we mean they will see if there are processes within the company’s operations that can be automated with not much pain but a lot of gain.
In most cases, these involve simple, repetitive tasks that are a costing the organization more time and money than the alternative of implementing a software bot to perform the job.
As we noted above, these jobs are usually manual and menial tasks that are an inefficient use of an employee’s time.
Why Is It Any Different Now?
Automation through solutions like robotic process automation (RPA) have become significantly more viable for small- and medium-sized businesses owing to a number of factors—primarily cost and availability.
Where in previous years, process automation would be considered an initiative that was out of reach for an SMB, today it is something that can be adopted, deployed, and scaled with relative ease, meaning the upsides of automation are quickly outweighing the negatives from a cost-effectiveness standpoint.
Moreover, businesses all over the country are seeing the benefits of automation as a standout competitive advantage in terms of improving their efficiency and effectiveness in how they leverage data.
In 2020, 78% of organizations in a Deloitte survey had already implemented RPA and 16% plan to do so in the ensuing three years.
Because of this, businesses from all industries and disciplines find themselves in a position where automation—even to a small degree—is not just nice to have, but actually a necessity of a modern organization to be able to compete.
1. Human Error
Whether we like it or not, human error is a certainty in business processes. It doesn’t matter how good an employee is, there will be mistakes from time to time.
There may be a misread piece of data or a wrong key hit, humans are susceptible to lapses that automated systems simply aren’t.
For example, implementing a fully automated system for shipping means that you can drastically reduce the chances of a misprinted label, or something more problematic that can cost money down the line to resolve.
In instances of human error, you must also factor in the lost time fixing it. Through automation, you can help ensure that preventable mistakes are kept to an absolute minimum and substantially improve your bottom line.
A whopping 50% of business processes will be fully automated by 2022, compared to around 30% today
Human Error Stats You Need to Know
- Accuracy rates for double keyed data vary from 99.963 to 99.995 percent. For single keyed data, the accuracy rate drops to 96% This adds up to an error rate of 400 per 10,000 entries—a significant and costly issue for businesses processing large amounts of data
- Human error is a persistent issue—a study indicated that common methods of verification, like visual checking, resulted in 2958% more errors than double entry. Automation reduces the error count to virtually zero
- When manually entering data into simple spreadsheets, the probability of a human error was between 18% and 40%
2. Reduced Productivity
Put simply, if an employee is spending time doing a job that could easily be automated, it’s money down the drain in today’s world.
While you’re paying a full-time employee to input data into a spreadsheet, your competitor has already automated that process and is completing it quickly and at a reduced overall cost.
Time spent on repetitive jobs would be better spent on more complex tasks where the worker is needed.
An HR worker, for example, might be spending all day inputting employee benefit data manually.
With automation, tedious jobs like these can be alleviated and HR staff can instead focus their energies on more skilled labor where they’re needed like employee training or education.
Productivity Stats You Need to Know
- A survey of more than 6,000 knowledge workers by ServiceNow shows that that BPA boosts not only productivity but satisfaction
- 74% of employees in the most automated companies say automation improves job satisfaction, compared to 53% in highly manual companies
- Professionals take 18 minutes on average to locate a document manually—20% to 40% of their time—and spend 50% of their time searching for information
3. Increased Labor Costs
This is number one for many small and midsize businesses.
If there’s a job that can be easily automated and you’re paying a member of staff to complete it, then you’re wasting your money and their time.
This is even more pertinent when you consider that mistakes can and will be made, which can mean that staff have to go back and re-do a task they’ve already spent time on.
Automation allows you to reduce the necessary staff to a particular task, reducing cost and improving profitability.
You can then use the staff who are freed up and have them do something that is a better use of their time.
Take device provisioning, for example. If your IT staff are spending inordinate amounts of time preparing and provisioning laptops and PCs, that’s time spent on a task that can be easily automated.
Manual Task Labor Cost Stats You Need to Know
- Low-level, automatable tasks eat up 30% of IT departments’ time
- 47% of AP professionals consider manual data entry and the cost of subsequent inefficient processes are their biggest challenge
- Automated timesheet and payroll processing to reduce the need for 1.5 full-time employees can allow business to reallocate personnel from data entry into more strategic roles. The time it takes to create and manage employee schedules can be reduced by 75%, and the problem of paying for costly overtime hours can all but be eliminated due to automated warning
4. Unpredictable Workflows
Automating workflows creates a clear structure, a sense of routine within your business, and establishes accountability.
Manual reporting processes have of course worked in the past, but for SMBs, especially midsize businesses, this can be difficult to monitor over time, and in any case manual reporting can be very time-consuming.
Digitizing your workflows helps project managers use software to prioritize assignments within their teams far more quickly.