The case for process automation
Many business analytics programs follow a classic approach – they start with process automation. It is the low hanging fruit. Executives and project managers like process automation as it is usually easy to measure and identify the benefits (e.g.: cycle time reduced by 2 days, aggregation is 60% faster). However, that raises a question: What happens with the ‘free time’. Can automation lead to higher effectiveness as well? Let me tell you a personal story….
Stuck in the process
My wife and I hate mowing the lawn. Our garden is not all that big but it still takes us around 1.5hrs per week to get the task done. Setting up the equipment, getting the stuff cleaned and put away consumes the majority of the time. We do not enjoy any of the involved tasks. It’s just a waste of time without any added personal benefits. It’s really just basic garden maintenance without any kind of physical improvements over time.
Last year was really busy for us as a family and we often neglected the lawn for obvious reasons. As a result, our garden looked like a football field at the end of a season. It was not pretty. We ended up not enjoying ourselves in the garden.
A few weeks ago, we made the decision to invest in a new tool – a robot for mowing the lawn. It is a tiny and friendly 10lbs car that whizzes around your garden while mowing the lawn. It works extremely well and it is fun to watch. Setting it up every other day takes about 2 minutes. It doesn’t need any major cleaning and there are no wires. Pretty cool stuff. This saves us a few hours every week.
Process automation in action
And what are we doing with the time savings? Well, here is the honest answer: we spend more time working in the garden than ever before. However, it is time well spent and we have more fun doing it. Why? Very simple: the garden always looks nice and fresh. That in turn has inspired us to do more. We now frequently dedicate time on improvements and enhancements that benefit our family. The efficiency gains have effectively been translated into effectiveness gains. And this is a self-perpetuating process. It is contagious.
Business analytics and process automation
Process automation with business analytics often allows us to dispense with mundane and boring tasks. Think about spreadsheet maintenance. Think about copying and pasting data from one system into another spreadsheet. Think about fixing formulas that don’t work. That type of work typically zaps energy. Process automation allows us to get rid of the boring work that does not add value to us personally and to our company. Getting rid of the mundane work allows you to focus on the important things. And that’s where the true benefits are.
Once we gain time, we often identify improvements. Our energy and motivation increases as well. Trying to improve things without process automation is tough.
Take a look at your business analytics projects. Are there opportunities where you can leverage the power of process automation?