Once upon a time, the words “workplace automation” would have solely referred to using robotic machinery to complete tasks in large manufacturing plants. The words may conjure a picture of strange contraptions screwing nuts and bolts onto automobile parts or stamping squares into chocolate bars. While this type of machine labor is still in wide and growing use, workplace automation is now more commonly called business process (BP) automation, and it refers to using any systems—be they machinery or software—to perform repetitive or predictable tasks without human intervention (emeritus.org). In this series, we’ll delve into what it looks like, who it impacts, and how it has affected the current employment landscape.
Examples of BP Automation
The aim of BP automation is to pinpoint repetitive, laborious processes that employees have to execute often and implement computer logic (or robotics) to complete those tasks. The goal is to save employees time to do the important work computers can’t do. Sometimes it works well and sometimes it causes problems—we will talk about BP automation’s pros and cons a little later.
Let’s look at some of the processes and procedures that BP automation frequently replaces in the workplace today (Data Semantics):
- Application/Resume Vetting – Software tools are available that can scan applications quickly while searching for specific keywords to quickly identify candidates with the most potential from an applicant pool.
- Sales – Automated systems can generate leads, create profiles, and begin the communications process with prospects.
- Marketing Analysis – Current software programs are adept at data analytics, meaning they can analyze market data with amazing rapidity to see what works and what doesn’t, freeing up marketers to work on the most effective campaigns.
- Human Resources – Recordkeeping, onboarding and offboarding, timesheets and PTO requests, expense claims, payroll, recruitment, and performance reviews are all examples of HR processes that can be either replaced or enhanced through technology.
- Customer Service – Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we’ve all had interactions with chatbots, those ubiquitous software applications that conduct online conversations with us via text or even sometimes over the phone whenever we try to contact a company’s customer service department.
- Accounts Payable – Computerized accounts payable solutions simplify processes, eliminate human error, reduce costs, and accelerate invoice processing.
These are some of the most common automated processes, although the list is not exhaustive by any means. Technology continues to offer more efficient and effective ways to manage various business processes.
BP automation can be applied to any industry, so its impact is felt everywhere. Interesting to know, nearly 70% of business processes that could be automated are still manual.
This is because people are still resistant to automation because like everything, it has an upside and a downside.
In the next article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of BP automation, those industries most affected and how they feel the impact.