Imagine a normal working day in a manufacturing company. A worker sits at one of the machines and waits for the outputs from the device. The printed papers are then distributed to individual departments. Such activity takes a lot of time and today you can simplify or completely eliminate it: thanks to IT workflows and process automation.
Automation of IT workflows has its place across all fields. What is behind it, what are its bright and dark sides?
What does automation of IT workflows look like?
Many of the processes that employees perform can be automated thanks to information technology. How? By programming some parts of process or interconnecting systems to communicate and transfer data without human intervention. Automated workflows can also be followed by monitoring and reporting with automatic sending of reports to individual departments.
Process automation has a number of advantages. It often leads to simplification of work procedures, detection of their weaknesses and significant financial savings (including labor costs). Not all processes can be fully automated, but most can at least be simplified. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the whole procedure?
Benefits of automating IT workflows in the enterprise
Automation with the use of IT brings companies a number of benefits. These are the most important ones:
- Streamlining work procedures. When implementing automation, you will come across processes that can be simplified to increase their efficiency and speed up the entire run. You may also find that it is better to swap some process steps or perform several tasks in parallel, again speeding up the process flow.
- Time savings. Employees spend a lot of time on activities that are constantly repeated. Many of them can be easily automated. This will give people time for more challenging tasks. Employees will be more motivated because they no longer have to spend the day doing boring activities that IT can do.
- Increasing the transparency of processes. When implementing automation, the procedure is usually the use of diagrams, in which the process is clearly drawn. The company thus has a better overview of each step of the process and can better plan the time required for its operation. You will also see which parts of the process ran successfully and which ended in error.
- Detection of bottlenecks in the system or processes. Newly discovered bottlenecks will tell you where to add human or other resources.
- Reduction of error rates. In some cases, an employee’s mistake can have significant (and not just economic) consequences. The risk of human error is greatly reduced or eliminated by process automation.
- Lower labour costs. Some tasks are handled by the system and you may find that you do not need as many employees, and you will also save on wages.
- Clear monitoring. Automation also serves as an excellent tool for monitoring the running of processes and their subsequent optimization.
- Paperwork reduction. Many documents can be generated automatically and sent via various applications or directly to the e-mail addresses of employees or departments. This reduces the amount of unnecessarily printed and subsequently discarded paper.
- Faster approval processes and easier audits. Approval also becomes easier thanks to better transparency of processes. You also have clear documents for any subsequent audit or analysis.
- Better planning. You can schedule the running of processes to the exact time, even in the future, or so that parts of different processes follow each other exactly (for example, based on their outputs).
Today, process automation with IT workflows will make work easier for almost any company. In addition to the described advantages, you get accurate data for strategic analysis and planning and thus an advantage over the competition.
Disadvantages of automation of IT workflows in the company
Automation also has several disadvantages. Let’s take a look at them.
- Changes. Employees simply don’t like change. They will have to get used to new systems or workflows that they may not trust at first. Over time, however, they find that automation has relieved them of routine tasks.
- Fear of losing a job. Your staff may be afraid of losing their seats. However, automation often helps generate new jobs or allows people to perform more skilled, better-valued activities instead of repetitive work. You can also retrain employees for more interesting positions.
- Incorrect process settings. Before you start automating, choose a really high-quality company that is thoroughly interested in your business. Only they will set up your workflows correctly and help with the subsequent optimization of processes. A misconfigured automated process will be of no use to you.
- Investment. Starting automation with the use of IT workflows is an investment. Again, if you choose a quality company, this disadvantage will be offset by subsequent long-term savings and increased efficiency of individual processes.
- Rigidity. Automated processes look inflexible: any adjustments are up to the supplier. Consider which processes you want to automate and which you do not. Automation loses its meaning in processes that change frequently or are affected by various (and not always predictable) external influences. A supplier (such as PEKK Consulting) is best placed to help you decide what to automate and what not.
As well as the manual execution of processes, their automation has its advantages and disadvantages. At present, however, it represents an ever-increasing trend and many companies see it as a great opportunity to overtake the competition.
Automation of IT workflows thus becomes an important factor, saving employees’ time and the company’s money. It gives companies space to develop new products, invest in new machinery and equipment, better employee training and other areas.