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Knowing When To Move From Manual Processing to Automation

January 25, 2017

In the natural evolution of an organisation, processes get automated to free up time for employees to work on new challenges and innovation that will take the organisation to the next level. Automation is a healthy aim for CTOs and COOs to focus on as it greatly enhances organisational efficiency.

However, the decision of when to automate versus continuing to process work manually, for example through an offshore model, sometimes becomes more ideological than grounded in business reason.

Often throughout Taskeater‘s history, we have received emails back from prospects saying “we aim to automate everything” and “we handle everything in-house”. Due to multiple factors discussed in this article, organisations cannot possibly aim to automate everything immediately, and therefore must still look for ways to free up staff to focus on innovation rather than building up a manual processing team, which is not the organisation’s core area of expertise.

Why consider automation for business processes?

1. Lowest cost to proof of concept

For startups especially, getting to a minimum viable product (MVP) or proof of concept is often a race against time while utilising the least amount of money. A manual processing team is in many cases cheaper, faster to setup and more flexible than aiming to automate all processes during the journey to an MVP.

2. Development team resources

Development teams often have a list of tasks in order of priority. Other departments bargain with the development team head for development hours, however sometimes a process simply cannot be prioritised for several months, and timeframes are not fixed. During this time it often makes sense to continue processing manually, for example through offshoring, rather than keep the in-house team engaged on the task as they wait for development time. If automation is already being considered, it means that the process is standardised enough to be outsourced to free up the internal team’s time.

3. Standardised process

Processes are much easier to automate once they become standardised and will require little technical rework in the future. A manual workflow is much more flexible, for example, if a back-end is being constantly improved and fields are changed frequently. If you aren’t sure about a process you plan to automate, talk to one of our experts.

4. Need for flexibility

Continuing on from the previous point, if a process requires flexibility due to upcoming changes, a manually performed workflow often provides that insurance of flexibility that the team needs. This is why, as outsourcing moves into a more digital and technical space, it is so important to continue to leverage both the creativity & flexibility of human employees with the efficiency and speed of automation technologies. A change in a process that has been automated once again may require prioritisation from the development team.

5. Reliability of automation

Many automated tools rely on external factors, for example scraping tools and crawlers can stop functioning the moment the website being crawled is changed. Such processes which are critical may require someone available at all times to fix bugs, which can be more costly than continuing to have the work processed by a human who can adapt to changes in external factors on the fly.

Final thoughts on Automation…

Organisations should focus on freeing up their internal team’s time through either automation of processes or through outsourcing them to a manual processing provider. The decision to do this should be less of an ideological one and more grounded on the factors discussed previously.

As organisations move from manual processing to automation, having an offshore partner can further help with this transition as the offshore partner can act as a fallback solution while automation is being tested.

In fact, within the outsourcing industry, we are progressively moving towards automation and robotics solutions. Taskeater is leading the curve for changes in this arena – investing in new, progressive technologies to support our offshore teams. This powerful combination of the precision and speed of automation, with the creativity and flexibility of human employees, is creating truly long-term, effective solutions for our client’s on-going processes.

Read about how the industry is changing in this Future of Outsourcing report we produced in partnership with Raconteur for the Times – free to download here.

How Taskeater Can Help

With wide-ranging experience across global markets and industries, we are able to expertly advise B2B businesses how best to automate their processes to suit their business objectives. We specialise in your bottlenecks. The work that you just want to get out the way (but can never seem to).

Our knowledge of the technology available, and our offshore resources, mean we can help you to create a bespoke automation solution for your on-going manual process. Get in contact today.

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