By: Kathy Kent Toney, President of Kent Business Solutions
So much has been said these days about business agility, given today’s unpredictable business environment. There are so many voices around this subject, it’s hard to know which ones to listen to. You may be asking these questions:
How does a business create higher levels of agility in their organization?
How can an organization position themselves to more quickly change courses when outside pressures mount?
To get answers to these questions, I recently interviewed Michael Cantu’ of Accelerate.
Kathy: Welcome back, Michael! Can you give us some background on how process automation can help organizations become more agile?
Michael: Sure. When thinking about changing business landscapes today, you’ve probably heard of automation. Its primary purpose is to bring efficiency to business.
An alternative purpose is to bring agility to the business during times where the three pillars are disrupted, those being: Resources, People, and Processes. For certain companies, especially today, they may encounter big economic changes. They could be experiencing changes in staffing availability, disrupted supply chains and even processes.
The reason automation can be a key tool to increase agility is the ability to reallocate roles, gain greater efficiencies, while maintaining two key areas that should be fundamentally rooted in all businesses: transparency and compliance.
Let’s start with...
1. Role Allocation
During COVID, and also during changing economic landscapes, role allocation is something that companies need to be looking at. They may be necessary due to:
In such cases, having an automation platform allows you re-prioritize role allocation across your company.
For example, a bank employee responsible for replacement cards or updating addresses is on leave. Their boss could have the ability to easily reallocate those roles, with a few keystrokes, to someone else within the company.
One task of automation is to take lower-value tasks and automate them. You can look for opportunities to remove or replace particular types of activities that aren’t necessary for someone to manually do.
For instance, an employee could be spending a lot of time doing data entry, but there may be other times when that person could be utilized to do a higher-value activity, such as contacting customers to ensure that they have what they want…from a human perspective.
By automating those manual tasks, this enhances the employee experience so they can become more of a knowledge worker, which brings them to a higher-level function in the business.
In the end, this is where automation comes in…to really enhance the experience for the overall employee and the customer, which helps achieve company goals.
This occurs as a result of automation. It has to do with the processes, people and how you organize the resources to accomplish the goal.
For example, let's say there’s a particular process in the business that hasn't been evaluated for several years. Or, you may not have held a particular meeting with the people on the team to see how the process could be better. It could be that they are doing something that is taking a large amount of time and not allowing them to be as agile, when it comes to being able to provide service to external or internal customers.
The result of having those meetings could result in significant improvements in efficiency, especially if you are utilizing a tool that minimizes manual data entry in multiple systems.
You cannot push for automation without transparency. Transparency is a key fundamental driver of automation in any business. Without it, you won’t be able to appropriately see what is occurring…you could be creating new bottlenecks for yourself, the automation tool, for employees and even customers.
As you're changing your processes, you will still have compliance that has needs to be implemented within the business. The goal, from an automation perspective, is that you integrate compliance into the automation pipeline, which means that particular items are getting done in a particular fashion, which brings consistency and quality over time.
Kathy: Sounds good. Do you have any closing thoughts on business agility?
Michael: Yes, agility no longer has to do with just timing. Agility has to do with your ability to quickly adapt to the current reality and let go of the prior reality. So, automation allows you to evolve.
And you can also still have your previous way of doing things, but you will want to modify that. You can implement a new strategy, execute that strategy, while at the same time have the ability to go back to the old strategy if you need to.
Also, you really want to include measurements for what you're trying to accomplish…that's what automation allows you to do. It's one of the reasons why Accelerate has been put together the way it has…because you can start to measure what's happening in your business without having to build completely separate reporting tools that allow you to have insights into how things are going.
Kathy: Good stuff, Michael! Thanks for joining us!
Michael: My pleasure.
Is your business looking to become more agile, especially when it comes to remote work? Then check out this infographic on how Accelerate can help your employees become nimbler while working from home.
Thanks for tuning in!