Business Automation | 11 mins read

The Ins and Outs of Business Automation

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Lauren Christiansen

By Lauren Christiansen

What is Business Automation?

Since the digital transformation, the vast majority of restaurants have embraced automation to remain competitive. When new software systems and business intelligence first came on the scene, most diners simply tried to switch out a few manual processes for automated ones. This used to be enough to optimize workplace efficiency and decrease costs. With the new increase in digitization and technological advancements, it's no longer enough to eliminate a few manual processes.

To stay competitive and innovative, restaurants need to rethink the way they manage workflows and completely transform their business models. Business automation must be at the forefront of any strategy to grow, innovate, and maintain a competitive edge.

But what exactly is business automation? Because business automation is a cross between business process management (BPM) and business rules management (BRM), it helps to know the definitions of these terms. BPM is where a restaurant looks at all processes to find areas of improvement. BRM are software systems utilized to streamline processes and optimize decision-making across an organization.

Business automation includes all of the strategies used to replace manual processes, which may include automation tools. BA is not just about eliminating manual scheduling or implementing a new digital communication tool. It is how analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and project management are used to optimize collaboration and connectivity.

Business Automation in Companies Today

About a decade or so ago, information technology specialists only focused on how to improve efficiency and manage costs. While certainly important, efficiency and costs are only related to internal processes.
In the modern era, restaurants and small companies need to engage externally with customers, vendors, the public, and stakeholders in the supply chain. This is particularly relevant in the age of social media and online advertising, where a digital communication strategy is crucial to achieving business success.

Nowadays, information technology specialists no longer want to automate a few internal processes, but the entire business itself. For example, an insurance provider can now sell all insurance policies online. This requires a brand-new business model, along with a set of particular technology systems.

BPA experts provide models of business processes to restaurants and small companies, along with the procedures in regards to a specific technology system. They combine the application with a specific code to create a finished product. All of these products are containerized, which means they can be maintained, refurbished, and dispensed at will.

With the business expert-driven models and the IT-driven apps, organizations can create process-centered applications. Users can easily configure these apps to meet their demands and achieve key business goals.

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The Advantages of Business Automation

Automating any process will always save time, money, and eliminate errors. Automating an entire business model and utilizing the best software applications to streamline processes is a recipe for success.
As digitization is now the norm and technologies continue to advance, all companies will need to implement business automation to remain relevant.

This will optimize internal and external business processes, streamline marketing automation, and create new customers. Moreover, it will provide the necessary framework for businesses to maintain a competitive edge, grow, and remain innovative. Here are the other top advantages of BA.

1. Business Automation Eliminates Paper

From new hire forms to tax documents to scheduling templates, all paper can now be replaced with digital documents. One great benefit of digitization is that all critical data is safely stored in one location, with a permanent audit trail.

Furthermore, it takes a lot of money and space to store paperwork. Some organizations even required entirely separate offices or buildings to do so. With the elimination of paper comes the elimination of these expenses and extra office rooms.

  • Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year
  • Businesses are responsible for producing 21 million tons of paper waste each year
  • The average office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of paper each year
  • Digital document management systems can save 1.4 trillion lbs. of paper

2. Business Automation Optimizes Transparency

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Companies must first tag each relevant business process before they start the automation process. Tagging ensures all information is transparent to authorized individuals. Decision-makers can use this transparency to their advantage to know exactly what is going on in the business. Because everything is more visible, it's also easier to monitor workflows and eliminate inefficiencies.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

3. Business Automation Improves Forecasting

Traditionally, business owners used a lot of instinct-based guesswork to make decisions and project outcomes. There just wasn't enough time, money, or resources to monitor each asset. With BPA tools, restaurants can track all of their assets and information in real-time. They can also use predictive reporting tools to drill down into data and make better forecasts. This improves decision-making, saves money, and minimizes inefficiencies.

4. Business Automation Pinpoints Waste

BA not only allows business owners to predict sales and resources, but it can also help to eliminate waste. Organizations can use real-time data to pinpoint unused assets and make better decisions. For example, a manager may use analytics and reporting to review all of the excessive electrical bills for a rarely-used warehouse. He may then choose to leave the warehouse lights on during specific days of the week to save money.

5. Business Automation Facilities New Opportunities

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Business automation tools enable owners to pinpoint new opportunities that grow business assets and increase customer support. Business owners can set up and monitor sales and customer support platforms to increase profits and resolve complaints.

This not only minimizes employees' workload but also opens up new doors for growth and increased revenue. For example, Amazon utilizes BA to curate advertising campaigns, answer customer questions, and sell just about any product, at any time, to anyone around the world.

6. Business Automation Saves Money

Humans can't work on a 24/7 basis without becoming sleep-deprived. A machine can. Machines don't require time-off, benefits, or sick days. And they certainly don't need sleep. Restaurants and small businesses can set up their BA systems to help customers and sell products at any time of the day.

This allows organizations to save money and increase profit, even while their business owners sleep. Because artificial intelligence does most of the work, BA may also help to decrease labor costs. No longer will a small business need to employ 1-2 workers to stay during the night shift.

The Disadvantages of Business Automation

Business automation doesn't come without its downsides. Anytime a change occurs in the business world, somebody will be negatively impacted.

Because automation is here for the long haul, there is a constant need to resolve the problems caused by these changes. This requires regular strategy sessions, a set of best practices, trend monitoring, and keeping informed. Read ahead to find out some of the challenges that come with implementing business automation.

1. Business Automation, Integration, and Cost

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Most established organizations have associated costs with their implemented legacy systems. Owners will have to revisit these systems and see if they integrate with new BA-driven applications. Even if there are integration capabilities, it's expensive to meld the two systems together.

While the financial incentives are worth the investment, BA is still expensive to implement. This is particularly true if a restaurant or small business still has only manual processes.

2. Business Automation, Nuance, and Complexities

Anyone who has ever run a Spell Check through a Word Doc knows that computers aren't always the best at understanding nuance and exceptions to the rule. A human being understands the big picture behind a process and other critical complexities.

Replacing a manual or tedious task with automation may save time and money, but it can also cause other problems. Computers run by a set of rules and codes. Business owners need to replicate all complexities and outstanding circumstances in the new system to avoid these bottlenecks. This can be expensive, complicated, and prone to error.

3. Business Automation and Security

Security is a complex challenge when it comes time to implement a new management system. Hacking is on the rise, and many companies have been destroyed by security breaches. Digitizing all sensitive paperwork can put organizations in a vulnerable place even when they implement a strong security apparatus. Effective businesses constantly update and monitor their security systems to ensure all sensitive customer and company data is safe.

  • 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error
  • 88% of organizations experienced phishing attempts in 2019
  • 68% of organizations feel their cybersecurity threats are increasing
  • 45% of breaches involved hacking, 17% involved malware, and 22% involved phishing

What is Business Process Automation?

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Business process automation is a plan in which organizations utilize technology systems to arrange their employees and processes through workflows. While BA focuses on replacing manual processes with automated ones, BPA centers on the quality of those processes themselves.

Business processes include all of the activities that allow a company to reach key objectives. For example, a restaurant's processes include taking orders, seating customers, cooking food, counting inventory, running ad campaigns, budgeting, and more.

Companies use BPA to integrate all internal applications through very advanced software solutions. This allows businesses to have control over the customer experience, reporting, strategizing, standardizing activities, and more. BPA can control everything from troubleshooting program problems to optimizing email marketing campaigns.

BPA helps employees and managers better perform their jobs and frees up more of their time. They no longer have to work on menial tasks and can focus on reaching key goals that increase profits. For example, a restaurant manager can use scheduling software to have more time for inventory management and budgeting.

In short, BPA is comprised of three main elements -

  • Enables restaurants and small businesses to arrange, integrate, and execute processes with ease
  • Centralizes all business activities to optimize visibility and maintain key computing infrastructures
  • Replaces manual, time-consuming tasks to improve morale, save money, and free up resources

The Benefits of Business Process Automation

Technology has allowed humans across the globe to solve the most complex problems, particularly where manpower is not sufficient. It allows restaurants to tap into unused resources, find new revenue opportunities, and reduce operating expenses. In today's competitive environment, organizations need to optimize decision-making so they can efficiently use resources. To minimize waste and save time, many businesses now use BPA. Top benefits of BPA include-

  • Improves Customer Service - With artificial intelligence and machine learning, owners can optimize customer service and address complaints with ease. Chatbots are a great example of a BPA tool. They answer customer questions and are not constrained to time zones.

  • Increases Productivity - BPA eliminates predictable and tedious manual tasks, such as billing, scheduling, and data entry. This frees up critical talent and minimizes waste to increase productivity across an organization.

  • Improves Morale - Because employees have more time to focus on other tasks, they tend to be much happier. They can easily access all critical data in one centralized place, and use that information to perform their jobs.

  • Enforce Governance - BPA leaves a clear audit trail of who did what and when they did it. This improves workplace accountability and minimizes errors. It also helps businesses maintain compliance with state-related rules and regulations.

Why Businesses Should Use Automation Software

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Automation software can help save restaurants money and optimize employee efficiency. By automating workflows, employees no longer need to focus on manual tasks. Sales team members can stop wasting time on data entry and start focusing on lead generation. Customer service reps can meet with VIP customers instead of answering common questions. Managers can use reporting to improve strategies, rather than rely on guesswork and instinct. In short, everyone can use technology systems to improve the way they do their jobs.

Robotic process automation software streamlines communication and connectivity. Managers are no longer restricted by geographical barriers or logistical issues. Technology enables quick team collaboration, regardless of where someone is. This not only improves morale but also makes it easier to employ remote-based teams, which opens up access to a brand-new pool of talent.

By automating workflows with cloud-based tools, owners can assign requirements to team members and monitor their progress. This holds everyone accountable and increases productivity. Managers can use BPA-driven data as evidence in case there is a dispute or performance problem.

While automation software can be expensive, the cost-savings opportunities it provides are well worth the investment. BPA eliminates the need for certain manual labor or administrative positions. The quality of work also tends to improve when BPA software is involved. Workers have more time to spend on key tasks, which means they won't be as frazzled. They have all the resources at their disposal to avoid guesswork and corner-cutting. This holds them accountable and increases efficiency, which improves the quality of deliverables.

Key Takeaways of Business Automation

In conclusion, here is what to know about business automation -

  • Advantages of business management automation include paper elimination, an increase in productivity, greater transparency of assets, improved forecasts, ability to identify new opportunities, less waste, and more savings.

  • Disadvantages of BA include integration bottlenecks, difficulty ensuring computer programs understand complexities, and greater security concerns.

  • Benefits of business process automation include improved customer service, increased productivity, improved morale, and more enforced governance.

  • Business process automation software streamlines connectivity and communication, improves employee morale, frees up talent, saves money, and increases profits.

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