Is now the time for companies to invest in automation?

By Nicholas Blake-Steele
An obvious benefit of investing in automation is its ‘always on’ nature. Programmes don’t take breaks, even during public holidays...

Automation of systems plays to the strengths of using computers. They can tackle mundane or routine tasks efficiently, without complaint, and without the avoidable mistakes that can occur when humans repeatedly perform manual tasks. Embracing automation ensures your engineers and developers can focus instead of solving problems and adding value to clients. 

When should you be automating? 

If you’re repeating something more than two or three times and the task is tightly defined (e.g. the data fields never change), it's time to automate, especially if the tasks are very straightforward (such as adding data to a database).  

Automation is often cheaper than you think, and the efficiencies it delivers can vastly outweigh the cost. Plus if investing in automation saves someone 1-2 hours a day or week carrying out a task, that time can be reinvested in solving other problems and delivering more work. 

The pros of investing in automation  

An obvious benefit of investing in automation is its ‘always on’ nature. Programs don’t take breaks, even during public holidays. 

Automating can differentiate your services, meaning you can add value by solving clients' challenges based on your unique knowledge and experience rather than performing mundane tasks that anyone could do. Automating routine work also gives you the space and time to tackle the harder problems – if you play to the strengths of the computer you can do 80% of the work with 20% of the effort.  

The cons of investing in automation  

Automation requires detailed planning to ensure the solution integrates with existing systems and is futureproofed for any future developments. This will take time from experts. Depending on your existing systems, there may also be some software to purchase and bespoke programming to complete. 

If implementation is rushed and manual processes pushed through first, it could take longer to unpick things and automate at a later date. Finally, automation does not mean automatic forever - maintenance will be needed from time to time. Context changes, systems change, data changes, clocks change - all of this needs to be managed and monitored. 

So, spend some time thinking about the data you’re handling. How manual is it? Are you repeatedly discovering that data is missing when someone is on annual leave and only they know how to do it? Do you find that occasionally data is missing because someone copied and pasted into the wrong column? Are you frustrated that some data is in one system but not another, meaning you can never get a full picture? 

If your answer to any of these is ‘yes’, and you want to streamline your customer data workflows, get campaigns, reports and insights delivered faster, it could be time to get automating.

By Nicholas Blake-Steele, Technology Director at CRM agency Armadillo

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