The Covid 19 pandemic has left the world economy in major turmoil and in turn, provided a big unexpected wake-up call to many businesses. Working remotely very quickly became the only option and businesses that had not made the digital transformation transition soon were plunged into major uncertainty. On the other hand, businesses that were prepared have been able to smoothly transition and continue almost as normal. However, the fact remains that having the ability to switch to remote working is now the norm for businesses in the foreseeable future. The current pandemic is not over yet, and even though some are now heading back to offices, the option of remote working must now be a staple in businesses future. This is proved by the fact that in April 2020, just after lockdown in the UK, 49.2% of adults in employment were working from home (ONS). Without pre-planned systems in place for remote working, it is clear to see how businesses would struggle to function at near full capacity. This struggle is further backed up by figures in Spain where Sage found that “40% of SMEs cannot operate their businesses through remote working“ and “67% believe the situation will affect businesses negatively.”(March 2020). These sorts of statistics are worrying for the health of the world economy and show that there is an urgent need for successful digital transformation.
Knowing these facts, business owners now must search for the best solutions. The answer to this is to automate business processes. At a basic level, admin tasks that involve manual paper processing always need human assistance and hence becomes a problem when remote working is the only option. Tasks such as these can be automated and embedded into a business process system that allows work to continue during such events. This is not forgetting the additional benefits of such automation like cost reduction and improved productivity. Businesses such as abp consulting who are at the forefront of process automation did not face any issues in switching to a remote working environment. On the other hand, there are businesses for whom working remote was disruptive. From providing laptops, to training employees to use online systems and work digitally, enabling IT infrastructure it was not an easy task. There are further challenges with remote working. For example, 35% of workers in the UK struggle to remain productive while working remotely - and this number is only set to increase the longer employees are working from home. It is not only the ability of remote working that businesses need but also the efficiency and productivity to make sure employees can do their work to usual standards. Process automation has been identified as the technology that has made this new way of working easier. In a recent report from Willis Towers Watson, they revealed that 57 percent of employers say that the main outcome of automation is the augmentation of worker performance and productivity.
To show how automation is enabling and enhancing remote working, below are some real-life examples: Collection and reporting of employee data is critical for managers to stay on top of performance as most employees work remotely. By building a digital ecosystem for employees to work, managers can also automate the collection of information and insights, identify potential areas of improvement, improve employee morale by keeping manual tasks to a minimum and reduce admin related distractions. Some such processes include - uploading expenses or requesting leaves or sharing of critical information. Ensuring high levels of customer services. Staying away from the office might derive customer services teams of records of customer data. Making data digitally available to assigned customer agents and automatically updating systems of records takes away a lot of mundane tasks from customer service executives and frees up their time to focus on delivering exceptional customer service. Document sharing and collaboration Digital information, when fed into automated workflows, eliminates the need for passing paper around desks for processing. For example, invoices received could be scanned and classified using automated ocr capabilities and routed to different accounts payable team members based on the information on the invoice such as invoice amount or supplier name or cost centre. Process automation enables easy and secure sharing of HR, sales, customer reference documents, contracts without anyone having to physically go into the office. Using relatively simple automation capabilities, these examples show how businesses can adapt to remote working and successfully adapt to rapidly changing scenarios. To ensure that these solutions work to their optimum capacity, businesses must be aware of the challenges of implementing such technology. Challenges in the implementation of automation for remote working 1. Some business units might start using BPM, RPA and bots in isolation lessening the overall impact automation technology can have on the business 2. Security and governance need to be embedded into process automation implementation which can be often overlooked in the absence of a knowledgeable automation partner. 3. Employee training and change management could reduce the adoption and proper usage of the technology by employees hence diminishing the return on the investment Putting security protocols in place to and guaranteeing that required training is done will give your business a head start when focussing on digital transformation. These are the foundations of successful automation projects and thus must be treated as a priority. To make certain you get the best returns from your process automation investment, get in touch with abp consulting. Our consultants will assess your businesses challenges from your point of view to then advise how best to help.