(Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to dispel common myths that are associated with workflow automation. This week looks at how it can be expensive. Check out the previous week’s article on implementation.)

By: Dominic Tancredi // CEO + Co-Founder, Dom & Tom

Myth 3: Automation is expensive

Automation doesn’t have to be expensive. Make it work for you. In order to do that, come up with a plan that outlines your goals so that it’s clear and understandable for everyone (look at my previous article on steps to implement workflow automation that fits your company’s needs.)

Automation in today’s business world is increasingly becoming commonplace (McDonald’s, anyone?). As it’s being integrated more and more into the depths of your company, there may be some aversion of it being too large and complicated, expensive, and inefficient.

It only becomes this way if you don’t take measurable steps to ensure that a plan exists to cross-check at the end, so when your automation is completed, its performance meets the standards of your company’s objectives. 

Without a plan, it can quickly become overwhelming, and your team can become unsuccessful and not achieve any ROI. Your team could spend expensive strategic and development cycles pursuing a mirage of “automation” to a dead end. If you can’t make a plan, start with a hypothesis and then test it out with a proof of concept. 

Most automation opportunities are based on taking on existing, validated systems (like a call center) and finding a way to switch it with a digital equivalent. The value of the system is already determined; what’s missing is the strategic thinking on how and where to automate.

Most importantly, to prevent expensive mistakes, the value of automating should be considered even before you implement — what will you gain from adding this new system to your business, if anything at all? If you don’t consider this, the chaos of finding out will cost you with unknown returns.

Take, for example, a common automation that isn’t efficient– call center automation. This is something that has become more frequent in the past years, where instead of hearing a live human agent, these robots, known as RPA (robotic process automation) are artificial intelligence that is meant to reduce costs and other errors.

It takes proper planning and design to make sure that this runs smoothly, because without that, it can go wrong. Just as importantly, testing the work with user interviews to ensure that your end customers interface with automated elements satisfactorily. Even though many companies use RPA’s for what they believe to be a way to increase efficiency.

Even this recent report from Forrester indicated that “workflow automation increased employee productivity by 8 to 15 percent.”

So instead of looking at automation as taking away jobs, being hard to implement, or expensive, see it as an indicator that this future technology is an opportunity for companies to increase their performance, profitability, and their employee’s quality of life.

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