The conversation around automation is often dominated by discussion of time saving. While it’s certainly true that automation can save time for your company, that’s not the whole picture.
Beyond saving and reallocating time, automation ensures more consistent processes and results, lets you gather pertinent data on all of your workflows, and creates a more fulfilling workplace for your team.
Of course, properly designed and implemented automations do save you time and money. Each time an automation runs, it performs a process faster than you or your team could have done it manually. Each run adds up to time saved, and time saved is money saved.
However, looking at automation strictly through the lens of time saved might make it seem like a relatively fruitless endeavor. This is because time savings are only the beginning of the value created by automation.
For instance, a closely related but easily overlooked benefit of automation is time reallocation. After all, the time you saved isn’t just a cost reduction on the balance sheet; once you’ve set up an automation to handle one of your robotic tasks, you can repurpose that time into something more valuable, more worthwhile, or more mindful.
The simple metric of saving 10-15 minutes a day might not seem like much, but those extra 15 minutes of focused, productive work can be invaluable. Spending another 15 minutes in a flow state while doing something creative can produce much better results than having to interrupt yourself early to perform a distracting robotic task.
Alternatively, being able to take a 15 minute break to recharge instead of jumping back and forth between different menial tasks can make your entire day more productive and relaxing.
Whatever you choose to do with the time you saved, just remember that automation can deliver both sides of the coin: less time working on robotic tasks, and more time spent on mindful work.
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Errors are an inevitable part of any manual process. No matter how diligent, skilled, and experienced your team is, they’re going to make mistakes from time to time. As human beings, we just can’t help making the occasional typo, or forgetting to send an email, or hitting “reply all” instead of “reply” every now and again.
However, when you automate a process, you ensure that it’s performed exactly the same way every time. The automation will (almost) never forget to run a step, make typos, or mess up a calculation.
Even if you’re not measuring your error rate or time spent fixing mistakes now, you’ll still notice the improved consistency that comes with automating your workflows. When you’ve automated much of the robotic work at your organization, you’ll experience fewer issues with clients, less confusion among your team, and less time wasted on redundant work.
Of course, this reliability is dependent on the automation being set up correctly in the first place, which is why we test our automation prototypes thoroughly before handing them off to our clients.
We also would never claim that automations are perfect. From time to time, your automations will encounter errors. However, many of these errors will simply be caused by the apps you’re automating experiencing downtime. If Slack’s servers are down, the app will be inaccessible whether you’re using it for manual or automated work.
In other cases, you’ll encounter automation errors when an update to one of the programs involved changes the way data is stored or processed, requiring us to fix the automation before it can run properly again. While any error is frustrating, errors in automated workflows will be caught quickly by our error-handling systems, so you’ll experience very little downtime. On the other hand, manual errors often go unnoticed for days or weeks, leaving you with a mountain of work to fix.
Automating some or all of a process is one of the most effective ways to start tracking key metrics related to that process.
At XRay, each automated workflow is incorporated into a larger automated infrastructure. Every time an automated action runs, it creates a record of itself in a centralized activity log. There, you’ll be able to see how often each automation runs, the date and time for each individual run, and any documents or assets produced.
So if you automate the process of uploading a sales report to Google Drive, or sending invoices through Quickbooks, you’ll now automatically gather data on how many reports your team is filing - or how many invoices they send each week and how quickly those invoices are paid.
Whatever you want to track can be recorded in the activity log, so you’ll be able to see how your processes have become more consistent and efficient, and identify areas that still need further refinement.
Most knowledge workers don’t want to spend their time every day on the kind of mindless work that can be automated. Instead, they would rather focus on challenging, fulfilling work that actually makes use of their unique talents.
Automation lets your team move their time away from mind-numbing copy-and-paste tasks, and refocus their efforts into work that pushes them to be creative, analytic, strategic, or thoughtful.
Mindful work like that is the kind of work that’s most satisfying for people to perform, and is the kind of work that provides the most value to you as their employer. Automating robotic tasks lets each of your team members focus as much of their time as possible on the work they’re uniquely suited to, rather than spending their time getting ready to work or reporting on what they’ve done.
In the long run, employees who can spend their time on work they enjoy are going to be more likely to stick with your company, and increased retention will prevent the cost and challenges of recruiting new talent.
It’s easy to think of the value automation as a simple equation of time and money saved whenever the automation runs, but automation offers much more value than that.
Automation lets you reallocate time, produce a more consistent and accurate output, gather data on your workflows, and raise employee satisfaction. If you’d like to learn more about automation, check out our blog, website, and videos.