6 Examples – What Can You Automate?

There are two main reasons you do not more commonly see automation projects in the workplace. Firstly, there is a perception that the utilization of automation could lead to individuals’ jobs becoming redundant, and therefore a risk of unemployment. This is not the case at all, and automation should be viewed as tool to work alongside individuals. The reality is that automation can improve the efficiency of individuals and teams. It very rarely completely replaces an individual.

Secondly, even if a company is fully on board with the concept of automation, they often do not know where to start and what they could, or should, automate. Of course, every single business is different, and therefore it is difficult to give broad examples of automation for everyone. However, this post should spark some ideas in your mind of the capabilities of automation.

Another important differentiation as well is what CAN be automated, and what SHOULD be automated. When you first dip your toes into the world of automation, it can be easy to go on a spree and try to automate everything. There are certain tasks which lend themselves well to automation, while there are others which can be a bit complex, and susceptible to mistakes and errors when automated.

Monitoring Twitter Feeds for your Brand

Manually logging into the company social media platforms and checking feeds for updates can be a pretty mundane part of an employees job. You can set up an automated workflow that will notify you upon posting of any specific topic. For example, I could set up a notification for whenever anyone uses the #Solutionyst tag, so that I can quickly go and check what has been said.

Rules can be set up to load all of these mentions into a spreadsheet as/when they occur. This way a member of staff can check all of these mentions throughout the day to see if any of these tweets need to be actioned.

Alternatively, you could set up a workflow to save all of the mentions in the predetermined trigger into a list. This list can then be distributed to the team at a predetermined time each day. Or, if you use another system, such as ClickUp, all of the findings can be loaded into a the ClickUp task management tool.

Primarily, this would benefit a social media manager within a company and improve the efficiency of their brand monitoring. Staring at a screen waiting to see if anybody is tweeting about the company is not a valuable use of anybody’s time. Therefore, this allows the monitoring process to be far more streamlined.

The above example has specifically focused on Twitter as an example. However, you could do this for a whole host of applications, from Reddit to Google, to Instagram.

Post Customer Feedback to the Team

Somewhat similar to the monitoring of social media. You can set up an automated workflow to inform the team whenever a review or news has been posted about the company online. This means that the relevant team can assess the situation and make an informed decision quickly. Often when negative feedback is posted, customers just want to feel as though someone is listening to them. Therefore having a process which enables getting a response back to the customer quickly is essential.

Send a Weekly Newsletter

Whether you are within the marketing team of a large company, or you’re an entrepreneur who needs to send updates to your customers on a weekly basis. An automated process to distribute your weekly newsletter will save you a lot of time and hassle.

This can be combined with other automated processes mentioned within this article. For example, let’s say you have a weekly newsletter which sends useful products to your email list every Friday evening. Well, Monday through Friday, you could use an automated process to add products you find helpful/interesting into a spreadsheet. Then, when the specified time on Friday evening hits, the process will extract those items from the spreadsheet, and incorporate them into your weekly newsletter template. To everyone else, it will seem like you manually curated the list. But in reality, you’ll have saved yourself a tonne of time!

Share Articles Automatically

It is possible to create a simple automated application which ties into your browser, which allows you to quickly and easily share interesting articles to your social media, or email list.

Let’s say you are a Plastic Surgeon and you have a large following on LinkedIn, as you’re known for posting interesting articles about your field. You can set up an automated process which allows you to specify your hashtags, and text while on an interesting article. Then with the click of a button, the automated process will post that article to your LinkedIn alongside the specific text and hashtags. As simple as that. You don’t even need to open up LinkedIn to post it yourself manually. This can be handy for individuals who like to quickly share tidbits to their communities.

You could go even further than this and post to all of your social media channels instantaneously at the same time. You can even alter each post slightly so that it fits with each of the social media platform’s unique posting requirements (EG Twitter’s character count). What if the post is suitable for Twitter and Facebook, but not professional enough for LinkedIn? Well, set a custom option where you can specify whether you want to post that particular article to LinkedIn as well.

Share Data from a Spreadsheet

There are many uses for automating a data distribution. You could email a group of people a stat every week, or post something into a Facebook group, or post a piece of data to social media.

For example, in the finance world, there are often data points which need to be distributed to team members on a weekly basis. You could set this data point up in an excel sheet or Google Sheets document, and then every Friday at 6pm, this data point will be released to the team on an automated basis. Depending on the data point, you may even be able to access this automatically and have the whole process run without human interaction.

Automated Reminders/Incentives/Customer Queries/Follow-Ups

One of the most tedious jobs you can face as a business owner is having to follow up with customers, or remember to ask them for feedback etc. This can be automated easily. For example, you could specify that after 5 days of an order, an email is sent. This email will be sent to the individual who made a purchase 5 days prior. They will be asked if they could fill in a survey which asks for some customer feedback. You could incentivise the customer to fill this in with a predetermined discount code.

Alternatively, let’s say your product has a 30 day trial before becoming a paid service. You could set up an automated email process to go out as soon as someone cancels their trial. This email will query why they didn’t decide to continue with the paid version. This may lead to a handful of customers actually deciding they want to go ahead with the paid version of your service. Automating these small customer service emails can lead to a reduction in time spent. However, it can more importantly lead to an increase in revenue when implemented correctly.

Website Downtime Alerts

This automated monitoring can be a lifesaver. Especially for eCommerce based businesses, where any downtime can quite literally result in massive amounts of lost revenue. This automated process will check the availability of your website on a predetermined time schedule and let you know if there is any time where the website is not loading smoothly. This means that you will be notified straight away, and be able to take action.


Is Automation the Enemy? You May Be Surprised!

I will admit it. Years ago I also thought automation was a terrible idea. I was working at an Accounting Firm thinking that Automation would be the death of my role. I had images of robots doing everything that I was doing. I had somewhat of an existential crisis thinking whether I had taken the completely wrong career path in order to avoid the dreaded risk of automation.

I imagine these are the thoughts that many employees have towards automation. This, in turn, means that business owners/managers are not willing to consider the benefits of Automation due to the fact they want to keep their workforce happy. Let’s be honest, a workforce who constantly feels like they could be removed from their position at any moment isn’t going to be an effective or happy workforce. 

There are many people around the world choosing to ignore the potential risks of Automation. But the real risk is actually the ignorance of the benefits of Automation. A report created by PwC showed that the GDP in the UK will increase by 10% as a direct result of Artificial Intelligence and Automation. This equates to £232bn. This is therefore going to be one of the largest economic impacts on the world’s commerce.

Automation Benefits for Management

Primarily due to depiction in Hollywood, many people’s perception of Automation is that of physical robots walking alongside us and completing tasks. The reality isn’t quite as Hollywood-esque, and somewhat less obvious.

The reality of Automation is actually the elimination or streamlining of mentally repetitive draining tasks. Almost every office in the world has routine mundane tasks which some poor individual despises completing. Automation is going to take these tasks off of their hands, allowing them to utilize their skills in more beneficial manners for the business.

Overall, this means less copying and pasting, report making, and repeated tasks. Many admin staff around the world will rejoice! As the main issue with these tasks is the draining impact upon team morale, which inherently impacts overall employee efficiency.

From the perspective of management, the benefits of Automation are crystal clear. A huge uptick in the productivity of their teams. In the world we currently live in, there are increased demands for information to be produced quicker and more efficiently. Automation allows teams to meet and exceed these expectations. Furthermore, Automation allows teams to meet these expectations without increasing stress and leading to burnout of staff.

Automation can really lead to an overall competitive advantage over businesses that continue to ignore the benefits of Automation. In the same way that stores that ignored the requirement for eCommerce were eclipsed by online stores, we will see businesses who choose to ignore Automation and Machine Learning falling behind year by year.

Automation Efficiency in a Business

Increasing the efficiency of processes is a core way for a business to improve a company’s bottom line. In simple terms, the more a business utilizes Automation to improve its efficiency the less time it will take to complete tasks. I have seen first-hand tasks which took hours to complete manually, be completed in 10 minutes by utilizing Automated Processes (or Robotic Process Automation/RPA).

Improvements to efficiency also have significant improvements upon the stress levels of employees. I extensively promote the intangible benefits of Automation on a regular basis. As an individual who once had to complete many mundane tasks on a daily basis, I have seen firsthand how Automation can alleviate the weight on staff’s shoulders, and allow them to spread their wings within their roles.


Repeatability and Reliability

The difference between a human completing a task and a “robot” is that a robot will complete it, in the same way, every single time, without fail. 

Mundane tasks lead to a reduction in focus. Therefore, ask a human to do the same task 100 times and they are bound to make a mistake or deviation from the standard process at some point. One of the biggest benefits of Automation is its reliability with repetitive tasks. 

Once an Automated Process is built, it will run consistently and reliably. This will then improve the quality of life for workers. The tedious, tiring or potentially dangerous jobs will be eliminated with automated processes and machinery.

Automation Trends in Financial Services Created by the Pandemic

Automation Trends in Financial Services Created by the Pandemic

There have been many changes as a result of the pandemic, in all areas of business, in all industries. The financial services industry is certainly not an exception to that statement. We have seen a variety of changes in mindset in the workplaces, from people leaving industries altogether, to a demand for flexible working from home. The pandemic has really revolutionized the working landscape for many. It has also arguably accelerated the need for automation and created a series of automation trends. Let’s discuss some of those trends:

Variety of Customer Services

One thing the pandemic has created is a general need for automated virtual customer service channels. This can be specifically broken down into channels such as chatbots, and automated call centers. How often have you spoken to a chatbot on a company website during the pandemic?

By implementing effective automation processes into customer service channels, financial institutions are able to significantly improve their customer service. These intelligence chatbots which are created using natural language processing are able to answer direct questions, but also indirect queries as well. They are capable of learning common questions and adapting their internal ‘brain’ to answer the questions correctly. The bots are capable of locating the correct information which is required for the individual they are speaking with, and can also seamlessly link up individuals with real live chat agents when required.

The main benefit here to companies is the reduction of call center/chat agent requirements. You no longer need a small army of individuals ready to answer questions. Just a small selection of individuals who answer the more complex or unique questions which a chatbot is incapable of answering. This can make the overall customer service system in place far more efficient and cost-effective for a business, without risking the level of service provided to customers.

Not only do the bots answer common questions, but they are able to bring together and analyze a significant amount of data quickly. Far quicker than a human could.

Due to the pandemic, there was a significant increase in automated robot chat communication. With Bank of America customers accounting for more than 105.6 million interactions during Q1 of 2021.

Massive Change to Internal Operations

Financial Institutions have massively looked inward during the pandemic as to which functions they are running which could be benefited from robotic process automation. This has led to an automation trend of transforming internal corporate functions with an aim of increasing internal efficiencies. There are some core areas in the financial industry that are being benefitted by effective intelligent automation (IA).

Human Resources (HR)

HR departments have long been laden with a significant amount of dull repetitive tasks. From going through CVs to monitoring the stage at which individuals are at in the hiring process. Automation has the ability to free up valuable time when it comes to repetitive manual tasks. This has allowed HR professionals to put their attention to the key values of any HR Team: Attracting and Retaining Valuable Talent.

The main use case of automation in an HR department is streamlining the recruitment process. This includes the onboarding process for new employees. This can go down to the real nitty-gritty aspects of an HR professional such as provisioning computer equipment, setting up individuals on payroll, or providing new employees with credentials to enter the building. These are all features of an HR employee’s day which could be streamlined with automation instead.

Information Technology (IT)

The IT department could be made the ‘automation hub’ for a company. When a company fully embraces automation, the excellence it provides will stem from the IT team, who are able to educate the business on the capability, controls, and infrastructure of intelligent automation.

However, an IT department in itself is able to benefit its own processes with intelligent automation. They could monitor operations of IT processes on an automated basis, creating warnings or error messages without an individual needing to monitor system details. Application testing, account setups, password upwards, etc. These processes take time out of busy professionals’ days, but they can be automated in seconds.

A key use of automation is in its ability to create simple and quick reporting. Reports which may take an individual 30 minutes or an hour to put together can be created in seconds by an RPA setup.

Financial Departments

We’re seeing finance departments really benefit from Robotic Process Automation in the midst of the pandemic. RPA has allowed finance departments to completely streamline their operations, while simultaneously strengthening controls, governance, and reporting. There is also a lot of opportunity in the finance industry to create costly errors with manual human error. Therefore, implementing automation can reduce these potential errors, as well as reduce the cost of time. This means that finance professionals are able to free up their time and put their focus into more value-creating strategies, rather than spending their time data-diving, sourcing the right data, putting it all together, and creating reports. From experience, reports which took me hours to put together in the past can be automated in minutes with the right automation tools by your side.

Some common automation tools being used by finance departments include the automation of reconciliations, the invoicing process, cash reporting, expense analysis, and more!

A New Viewpoint on Workplaces

Almost every workplace has changed over the last two years. There has been a dramatic shift from onsite working to working from home, as well as hybrid working. This has been somewhat more conservative in the finance industry, especially in the main financial hubs. However, it is clear from public studies that employees in the finance industry want to see flexible working applied to their day-to-day work. 66% of professionals who are currently working in banking and financial services have stated they would like to see hybrid working and flexibility offered by their employer. It remains to be seen whether the powers that be in the finance industry will bow to this pressure and provide their employees what they want.

What does this have to do with trends in automation? Well, the reality is that as a result of this new workplace dynamic, financial institutions will need to invest in technology and automation in order to make sure that hybrid working remains efficient and effective. RPA can be utilized to replace certain tasks which previously seemed impossible to do outside of an office environment. RPA can also be used to support the staff members who are working from home remotely. A combination of a digital/remote workforce with automation on their side will allow businesses to grow exponentially, without also adding significant headcount expenses to their books.

Business Process Automation How it can Benefit You

Business Process Automation: How it can Benefit You

In simple terms, Business Process Automation is a tool that can reduce time expenditure on tasks and increase overall productivity. It can primarily handle those repetitive daily tasks which can become monotonous to repeat. Such as punching repetitive details into spreadsheets, or sending email reports.

With the use of Business Process Automation, you can handle standard day-to-day business processes automatically. This allows employee time to be freed up so that they can handle more human-specific tasks. These automated tasks can link several departments together as well.

For example, the marketing team may receive emails daily relating to new leads that they wish to enter the details of into a CRM system for the sales team to utilize. However, inputting the contact details for several individuals on a daily basis can be tedious. An automated task could be set up in order to input those details automatically when an email is received.

What are Business Processes?

A business process can be simply defined as a series of actions and/or steps that a business repeatedly undertakes in order to achieve a certain business goal. The important part of that definition is the word ‘repeatedly’. Processes are repeated. Sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, sometimes less frequently. Regardless, anything which is repeated with an element of consistency can be automated in order to increase overall business efficiency.

Some examples of repeatable business processes can be seen below:

  • Email reporting
  • Employee Onboarding
  • Payroll Processing
  • Inventory Management
  • Billing Processing
  • Marketing to Sales Processes
  • and more…

What are the Benefits of Business Process Automation?

Increased Operational Efficiency

When a business’ processes are automated, there is a resulting operational efficiency in how those processes are handled. While a human can be inconsistent with the time in which they take to complete a task, an automated process is always consistent. This is due to the fact a human can become distracted, need to go to a meeting, take a call, etc. However, Business Process Automation remains consistent no matter how many processes or tasks need to be handled at any given time.

Cost Savings

By automating processes, tasks that would have previously been handled by an employee (or multiple employees) can now be handled automatically. This means that you can effectively increase overall work output, as team members can now free up their time to work on more human-engaging tasks.

There are two ways to look at this. You can either utilize staff time in a more valuable manner, or there is a general reduction in staff requirement. Implementing efficient process automation could mean that a department only requires 9 members of staff, rather than 10.

Improved Analysis and Reporting

You can analyze processes in a simple and efficient manner with process automation. Whether this is the overall performance of processes, tracking successful completion of tasks, or analyzing overall improvement in efficiency when using automated tasks rather than manual tasks.

Reduction/Elimination of Human Errors

Automated processes significantly reduce the potential instances of human errors. These can generally arise within the workplace due to distractions, work fatigue, or general human nature. An automated process will run exactly how it is told to run. There is no potential variance in its actions.

Quicker Processes

Due to the fact that there are no potential variances in its actions, the speed at which processes are completed is much more consistent. There is also the fact that an automated ‘robot’ can complete actions far quicker than a human can. Whether that be finding files, typing numbers, or clicking buttons. A ‘robot’ can do this almost instantaneously and works immeasurably quicker than the human brain can allow the body to function.

Team Morale Improvements

A topic which we believe isn’t discussed nearly enough when discussing the benefits of business process automation. When you have a member of staff who has to do the same task every single day, without fail. It can eventually lead to an erosion of overall satisfaction in their job. They may love 95% of their role, but that 5% of monotonous work can lead them to really dislike their role.

This is the biggest value in automation to us. The aim isn’t to replace staff, it is to take those ‘boring’ processes away from them so that they can focus on the more interesting variable work which comes on their plate every day. This is when employees thrive, and exceed expectations, by bringing more value to the company over time.