How an Automated Process Outshines a Manual Process

Nisha Achuthan

Nisha Achuthan

BPM

Believe it or not, not too long ago, to indulge in a rejuvenating cup of coffee, you had to wake up and fumble around with the coffee maker with one eye open as you tried to rouse yourself. But with programmable coffee makers, you can wake up to a promising cup of joe and jumpstart your day.

Businesses have a similar option now: continue to slog through manual processes or significantly improving work with automated processes.

In a 2018 survey of over 280 companies in the US, 62 percent of respondents reported three or more process inefficiencies that could be resolved with automation. The survey found that managers spend at least 8 hours a week on an average in manual data tasks. In fact, 25 percent reported spending 20 hours a week on manual data tasks!

Manual Process vs Automated Processes

If this makes you wonder how or why automated processes are an improvement over manual processes, let’s take you through a comparison.

Manual Process Vs. Automated Processes: Head to Head

You can tell a manual process apart from an automated one with the following factors.

Manual Process Automated Process
How it is managed Requires a human to push it through every step and know whom to send it to The system is programmed to auto-assigns tasks
Reminders Must be sent by a human to everyone The system can send emails and mobile notifications at specified times
Starting Physical or digital forms are kept in disparate places All digital forms are kept in the same place
Form completion All fields must be completed manually Some fields can be auto-filled with regular details and computations
Tracking Must send messages to others to determine where items are The system keeps a log of the status of every item
Audit Trail Completion events are easy to falsify and might miss information The system logs every action with the accurate time
Communication Process-related communication often happens outside of the context of the process (email, messaging) All communication remains within the workflow management tool

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Automation in Action

Want a more in-depth understanding of the differences? Let’s describe a typical purchase order approval from a manual as well as an automated perspective.

Let’s say you need to generate a purchase order for 500 new widgets. In the manual process, you would either find the paper version of the purchase order request form or download a spreadsheet template from an online folder. Then, you need to fill out every detail and attach it by email to send to your manager. The manager should approve it and send it to procurement, who should create the PO.

However, there are a lot of holes in this process. First, the form may have lots of fields and opportunities for data transfer errors. Second, there’s no way for you to check to see how far along the process is. To know if your manager has approved, you need to send an additional email. If she responds to that “approved” with procurement on cc, now, procurement is stuck with an email without an attachment. Data security and accuracy is also an issue as you need to make sure no one tampers with the numbers and the PO is accurate.

Automation can plug all of these holes and give you much more confidence in the process by trusting that every task was completed and the data is accurate.

Benefits of Automating Manual Processes

Irrespective of industry type, an automated process can bring the following benefits.

  • Clarity. Automation necessitates a clear and complete understanding of how the process works and who is involved.
  • Higher efficiency. An automated process minimizes errors and redundancies resulting in higher efficiency.
  • Better customer experience. SLAs can be met consistently with workflow automation, making happy customers.
  • Reduced time and costs. With faster turnaround and elimination of wasteful practices, automated processes facilitate time and cost savings.
  • Efficient allocation of resources. Since mundane tasks are taken care of with automation, employees can be reassigned to do high-value work.
  • Compliance. Automated processes enable compliance with regulations and audit trails.
  • Insight. Workflow automation software helps you gain deep insight into your processes with analytics and reports, thereby aiding decision-making.
  • Scale. With manual processes, it’s very difficult to scale in response to an increase in demand. Automated processes make this effortless.
  • Transparency and accountability. Automated processes keep all stakeholders in the loop, increasing transparency. Status reports keep everyone individually accountable.
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Transitioning from a manual process to an automated process can ensure that your organization stays on the path to continuing growth.

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