How To Choose Which Processes To Automate in Your Business


When it comes to implementing high-value, high-impact process automation in your organisation, knowing what to automate is the most important part of the entire automation project. What is the best process to automate in business? What should you automate in your organisation? Here is your guide to figuring out exactly that.

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To Automate or Not?

In general, the tasks that are easiest to automate are those that: 

  • Need completing frequently.
  • Have a familiar, repetitive workflow.
  • Require multiple users or sources of input at once to complete.
  • Take a great amount of manual effort or time to complete.
  • Follow a standard, unchanging set or rules or logic.
  • Fit into wider workflows and larger, more complex business processes.
  • Any work that uses structured data and readable electronic inputs, such as:

    • Databases and other information repositories.
    • Excel spreadsheets, or similar files like .CSV and .XML files. 
    • Information and files with well documented structures, for example JSON or HTML files.
    • Regular, repeated actions or computer inputs, such as button clicks, or functions that can be easily mimicked by a computer.

What Business Processes are Less Susceptible to Automation?

There are some things that are best left to a human. This could be because the work is too complex, it requires difficult decisions to be made, or has human attributes that cannot be replaced by a robot. 

In general, these are areas where you should stay away from when it comes to bringing a bot into your teams:

  • Decision making on critical tasks, work, business functions, and operations.
  • Strategy and top-down policy that affects your daily routine.
  • Any work that relies on a human connection or other human behaviour.
  • Any work that requires creativity.
  • Any work that requires proactiveness, innovation, or adaptability. 

It should be noted however, this doesn't mean that you cannot automate these more complex tasks. After all, advancements in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are allowing smarter tools to create incredibly complex products and finish work that simple automation tools could never dream of. However, these tools are by no means an easy or proven solution yet, and so you should conduct thorough research or consult with experts to see if these tools can feasibly be introduced into your workflows without subjecting you and your organisation to unmanageable levels of complexity or cost. 

How Can I Automate More Complex, Multi-step Business Processes or Tasks?

Every business has multi-step or multi-stage processes that at first glance appear too complex to be automated. As noted above, AI could be one way of meeting this challenge, but there's a much simpler one you can follow: reducing complexity.

Very often these processes can be further subdivided into small processes that are connected in a smaller workflow that can be automated. This 'co-automation' or complementary automation accelerates human work, and allows them more time to focus on the specific tasks that cannot be automated. 

For example, a robot cannot take over the job of recruiting workers into a company. However, when you subdivide this complex chain of work in the HR department into its constituent parts, you can allow bots to take over the most labour and time intensive ones, such as posting job descriptions, gathering and processing applications, assessing candidate eligibility, automatically sending out documentation and materials etc. so that the HR personnel can focus on human work that the bot cannot do, such as like interviews, training, and onboarding etc. 

Evaluate Your Chosen Use Cases and Cost-Benefits Impact of Automation

It is essential for businesses to carefully evaluate the cost benefits of automating a process before proceeding with automation. Often, business unit leaders become preoccupied with the idea of automating their work and overlook the crucial step of determining whether automation is actually worth pursuing.

When making decisions in a typical business setting, you likely employ a strategic approach by assessing the expected inputs versus outputs. This same mindset should be applied when considering automation. It is important to focus on identifying the most significant bottlenecks and sources of delay in your business operations.

By conducting a thorough evaluation of the cost benefits associated with automation, you can gain valuable insights into which processes are the best candidates for automation. This evaluation helps you determine whether the potential efficiency gains, time savings, and productivity improvements outweigh the costs and effort required for implementation.

Consideration should be given to factors such as the complexity of the process, the frequency of its occurrence, the volume of work involved, and the potential impact on employees. Some processes may be straightforward and repetitive, making them prime candidates for automation, while others may involve intricate decision-making or require human creativity, making automation less feasible or desirable.

Furthermore, assessing the cost benefits of automation allows you to prioritise your efforts and allocate resources effectively. By focusing on automating processes that yield significant returns on investment, you can optimize your business operations and achieve tangible benefits, such as increased efficiency, reduced errors, improved customer satisfaction, and cost savings.

In conclusion, evaluating the cost benefits of automating a process is a crucial step for businesses. By considering the potential gains, identifying bottlenecks, and determining the feasibility of automation, you can make informed decisions about which processes to automate. This approach ensures that your resources are allocated wisely and that automation efforts align with your overall business goals.

How to Maximise ROI on Your Automation Use Case

The best avenue for maximising the value you draw from automation is through targeted and highly strategic automation.

Often you can realise greater ROI on an automation project by automating one or two high-impact processes rather than implementing an expensive, sweeping program of automation. In one automation project we built for a client, we were able to bring them a 160% ROI within a month of the automation solution going live, by automating two highly manual, repetitive daily processes in their head office. The process worked 24/7, saving nearly 208 days per year of administrative labour.

If you're seeking expert insight into to approaching, planning, and/or implementing high-ROI, high-impact automation in your organisation, get in contact with us to hear about some of the work we have done and how we can help you on your journey.

For over 2 decades we've been delivering highly successful custom-built solutions and automation to major government agencies and large enterprises in Ireland and the UK. 


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