Implement a Business Automation Strategy
and Save Time

See also: Implementing Change

Automation was supposed to make our lives easier, but many people complain that they actually end up wasting more time managing their software than they ever did when they worked with all manual tools. If this sounds familiar to you, then you do not want to abandon the idea of automation. Rather, you will want to focus on learning a few simple skills that will help to dramatically improve the way that you and your organization rolls out an automation platform.

First, you should take a minute to figure out what sorts of problems you find to be the biggest challenge. Manufacturing and communications workflows are usually the ones that are the most easily automated. For instance, larger firms have long used CNC technology to make certain parts and ensure that each are done to the same specifications. That being said, nearly any process can be automated to at least some degree if you have the right strategy.

Developing an Automation Strategy that Makes Sense

One of the biggest reasons that people end up feeling like they have actually been forced by their automated equipment to work harder is the fact that many people pick a strategy that is too complex for their company. Never let the tech industry sell you equipment or algorithms that you do not need. Remember that automation firms are businesses too, and that they are out to maximize their own profits. As a result, many of them will push products that you may not actually have a use for.

According to Yummy Software, there are big differences between structured and unstructured data, but many automation vendors aren't exactly clear on these. Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the various concepts related to the field. Structured data is always in a format that's precisely defined. A spreadsheet that has defined rows and columns is structured data. Stock prices, staff appraisals and even academic performance can be presented in this fashion. However, most of the information that you're likely to work with has no real defined structure. If that's the case, then you might actually do better to invest in a new data format than any completely new automation platform to begin with.

For instance, you may want to consider using your existing spreadsheet and document editing tools but focus exclusively on adding some kind of structure to what you record. Education is very important here, since you're going to want to keep everyone on the same page when it comes to how this information is supposed to be entered. While this might sound boring, it can really help to dramatically reduce how much time it takes to get your automation system working. Any information that's out of place can mess things up and require someone to come by and hand-code things a second time. You may want to learn more about keyboard shortcuts and other simple strategies to make this process simpler.

Once you have information in place, you'll be free to roll out a sophisticated business automation strategy.

Learning to Identify Data Types

Unless you're already in the information services industry, you probably don't want to delve too deep into data typing conceptualization. That being said, it's fairly easy to gain a few simple skills that will make this process much easier. You'll first want to start by deciding which of your data sets are quantitative. That simply means that these deal with numbers and statistics.

Anything that isn't in this category is qualitative by definition. Let's say you were running an active email marketing campaign and wanted to automate the process of sending out messages. If that was the case, then there's a good chance that would have a large number of contact details that were qualitative and could be sent to whatever automation app you had elected to work with.

In spite of what you might think, you won't need many other skills to work with this kind of software. Basic computer literacy is needed, and you may wish to bone up on your knowledge of business communication, but the actual automation part should not be too difficult as long as you make sure to be diligent and make all of your tech acquisitions wisely. Once you have an automation platform in place, you should consider focusing on learning to make a meaningful impact with every message that you send out.

Eventually, you might get to a point where some particular use case you run into doesn't fit this template so to speak. When that happens, it might be time to study a few additional concepts.

Mastering Automation-related Technology Skills

Reading a business process automation guide can be remarkably useful, but you want to be certain that you're reading the right one. Naturally, there are a lot of materials out there that are geared toward either a specific platform or something that's slightly out of date.

Check the publication data of whichever guide you read. If it's more than a few years old, then there's a good possibility that it's no longer pertinent to what you're dealing with unless it's a conceptual book. Paradoxically, you might want to read some older conceptual guides to get a better feel for the philosophy behind process automation. Many of these are ironically more detailed than some modern ones.

When it comes to technologies, though, you'll want to be sure you're looking at an updated guide. Don't focus on a single platform, because there's always the possibility that things might change at some point in the future. If you make sure to learn long-term skills that help you save time, then you'll be in a great position to run your business.

You'll also be in great shape if anybody tries to dramatically restructure the way that business automation workflows function later on.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Business Strategy and Analysis

The Skills You Need Guide to Business Strategy and Analysis

Based on our popular management and analysis content the Skills You Need Guide to Business Strategy and Analysis is a straightforward and practical guide to business analysis.

This eBook is designed to give you the skills to help you understand your business, your market and your competitors.

It will help you understand why business analysis is important for strategy—and then enable you to use analytical tools effectively to position your business.

About the Author

Philip Piletic closely follows the impact of technology on education, and its evolution from traditional to modern methods that include e-learning, courses, gamification, and others. He has also helped the Sydney-based IT & Business school in developing their IT courses.