Pros and Cons of Business Process AutomationFebruary 28, 2017 - By: Matt Thomas
Business process automation (BPA), the strategy a business uses to automate processes in order to contain costs, has been a hot button topic in the last few years. As with any new innovation or way of doing things, BPA comes with concerns. What processes are businesses starting to shift from manual to automated? Many are related to HR – including onboarding, employee training, job applicant tracking, etc. – but BPA can be applied to essentially anything requiring routine intake, approval or manual handoff.
There are several pros and cons to consider when contemplating integrating workflow automation into your business, especially those that affect your most important asset: your people. We’ve compiled some important pros and cons to consider when deciding whether or not to automate processes within your business.
A major benefit to implementing more automated processes within a business is that it can eliminate the most time-consuming, repetitive tasks to free up employees’ time for more important undertakings. Self-service portals for employees’ HR-related needs, automated database searches, and general document management are examples of business processes that can be automated to help cut down on the time that would otherwise be spent manually completing them. With these administrative tasks out of the way, businesses can put their resources into ensuring their employees have more room for creativity and idea generation.
Con: Job Uncertainty
Possibly the biggest concern for both business owners and employees is, will automated business processes eventually eliminate certain jobs? For many positions that involve repetitive, system-based tasks, the answer may be “yes.” On the bright side, the need for automated business systems continues to grow, people will be needed to create them, which will in itself create new jobs. Either way, if we eventually shift to an automated business world in the future, it will be a very gradual one.
Automating tasks that normally require significant manual input can ensure more accuracy and eliminate the possibility of “human error.” Businesses can count on more precision when it comes to in-depth reports, compliance with internal or external requirements, time tracking, order filling, etc. This improved reliability benefits the company as a whole by ensuring a higher quality of work completed across the board.
Con: Loss of human touch
No matter the company or industry, quality customer service will always be king. At the end of the day, human connection and unique ideas generated by people will be what progresses businesses forward to a successful future. These are things that cannot be duplicated or automated by software or machines – think about times you have gotten stuck with an automated response attendant instead of a human agent on the phone. It is always more comforting, and sometimes more efficient, to speak to a real person on the other end of the call.
In the end, there are certainly advantages to business process automation, but the major caveat is to make sure to automate the right tasks. BPA is certainly not a “one-size-fits-all” solution and requires significant consideration about how employees and the business as a whole will be affected.
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