Intelligent Process Automation and its real cost benefits
Every modern organisation should be more aware of Intelligent Process Automation and its real cost benefits. Why? This article explains!
Not every process in every organisation runs like a well-oiled machine. If anything, hyper-efficient processes are an outlier, while inefficient processes are much more common. Why is this a problem? Because every year, companies lose 20-30% of revenues due to process inefficiencies. Needless to say, lower revenues translate to weaker profits.
So if your organisation’s processes are inefficient, you are likely bleeding revenues. This is because inefficiencies have an adverse effect on your ability to deliver high-quality customer experiences. They also hinder your time-to-market, and inhibit your innovation capability.
Another problem – they confuse and frustrate your staff, affect their engagement and motivation, add to their stress, and sometimes also contribute to burnout. As a result, employee turnover increases, which increases your human resource costs, and once again impacts your revenues and profits. All these outcomes are detrimental to your organisation’s growth and success.
So what is the best way to deal with the efficiency conundrum? Add more human resources and hope they can find a way to make the process more efficient? Many organisations think this is the right answer. It’s not. Instead of adding more resources to an inefficient process, it’s better to understand Intelligent Process Automation and its real cost benefits.
Same action, poor results
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
— Albert Einstein
These words do make sense in the context of organisations and inefficient processes. Of course, the choice to do the same thing over and over may not exactly qualify as “insane”. However, it is a trap – one that many organisations have fallen into at one point or another.
One such choice is continuing to use poorly-integrated legacy applications and systems even if they are no longer effective for meeting new challenges in a changing business landscape. This is hugely problematic, because it leads to sub-optimal functional silos and workflows that adversely affect enterprise-wide communications and collaboration. It also forces the org to continue with tedious manual tasks that lower productivity, increase errors, and burden resources. Finally, systems that don’t “talk” to each other means that employees are constantly shifting between disparate information sources, resulting in higher costs, lower productivity, and greater turnover. At a broader level, outdated systems make it virtually impossible to maintain a competitive advantage, ensure customer satisfaction, or achieve consistent growth.
Another common and traditional approach that many companies take is to simply add more resources to inefficient processes. However, not all old ideas are necessarily wise, and this is one of them. Simply adding more people to a broken process does not address the problem’s root cause. Also, people are not always – or the only – reason for process inefficiencies, so simply increasing the size of the workforce is akin to treating a disease with the wrong medicine.
The real reasons for process inefficiencies
“Effectiveness is doing the right thing; efficiency is doing things right.”
–Peter F. Drucker
Improper planning with available resources is a big cause of process inefficiencies. A failure to identify operational interconnections, contingencies and risks is also a cause, as is a lack of clarity and transparency regarding responsibilities, accountability and expected outcomes. Inconsistent or inadequate feedback, and poor communications also lower efficiency. Furthermore, when processes are the result of operational inertia (“if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”), they often lead to bottlenecks, redundancies, misalignment and rework, all of which lower process efficiency and productivity, not to mention profitability.
Now, if more people are required to cater to increased throughput in a particular process, it’s a sign that the process is growing, and that the business is likely to earn greater revenues from it. Both are good outcomes. However, adding more people to a growing process, or worse, an inefficient process, could affect its profitability and ROI – which are not good outcomes by any means.
By not understanding the true causes of process inefficiencies and its real costs, you’re functioning in the dark with no idea where you are, or where you’re going. This simply exacerbates your inefficiency problems, leading to a vicious cycle of high costs, low competitiveness and poor results that will not be resolved by simply adding more people to your workforce.
The secret to improving process inefficiencies: Explore Intelligent Process Automation cost benefits
Consider companies like Nokia, Blackberry, Kodak and Yahoo – once all considered leaders in their sectors, and poised for years of growth and success. Even with huge and growing workforces, these organisations managed to fall off the radar, and mostly disappear into the abyss of inconsequence. Two major reasons for these outcomes were a failure to innovate, and a failure to adapt to changing market realities. Kodak missed the digital photography revolution, Nokia failed to re-focus its attention on Smartphones and Smartphone software, Blackberry ignored touch-screen based technology, and Yahoo did not capitalise on key opportunities that would have had the world of today Yahooing instead of Googling.
These and many other companies that have also faded into obsolescence might have benefited by embracing new technology such as Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) and then automating existing processes. These choices could have freed up their human resources, and allowed them to focus on more high-value tasks that might have generated better results for the process and business.
Intelligent Process Automation, RPA (Robotic Process Automation), Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning all provide great pathways to add speed, simplicity and efficiency to your processes. By automating repetitive, boring or laborious tasks, you can achieve such amazing results without adding more resources. In anything, you can repurpose part of your workforce so they can perform other important tasks, and deliver greater strategic value to your org. By effectively leveraging Intelligent Process Automation, you can also increase your speed-to-market, minimise errors, streamline workflows, and deliver better customer and employee experiences.
Einstein had it right. Doing things the same way (add more resources) and expecting different results (more efficient processes) is a huge folly with serious long-term consequences. This is especially true in today’s radically changing economic landscape. Want to improve your processes? Stop obsessing over increasing your workforce, and start thinking about technological innovation, in particular, Intelligent Process Automation cost benefits. The optimal solution is within reach. Make sure you grab it!