Today’s world has changed for local government organizations. Many departments are understaffed (and have been for a while!) and for that reason, minimizing the time on repetitive tasks will make space to be innovative and creative in the approach to their jobs, the marketplace, and your customers. You can start automating your department processes by using your existing software differently. Or, if you are further on the path, you can instigate Robot Process Automation (RPA) and leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI and ML).
Any movement beyond manual processes can free your organization to concentrate on things that will grow and retain your people and improve your bottom line. Plus, data extracted from automatic systems can be processed a zillion times faster than humans, so you can make better decisions based on more frequent, less labor-intensive reports with fewer errors.
Process Automation uses technology to automate the steps within or between workflows or processes that were done manually in the past. Before you begin your RPA journey, it is critical to embark on a business process evaluation. Review all of your processes with an eye toward automation—because it is especially important to avoid automating old processes.
When people hear the terms Business Process Automation or Robot Process Automation (RPA), they sometimes assume they are for companies like Amazon and Apple. But you already use automation when incoming calls are answered automatically and routed to a department or handled by message-taking software.
A thoughtful, multi-department analysis of your organization’s processes can identify the most impactful automation first, so you’re not overwhelmed, and the transition will be smooth and effective right from the start.
The next step in automation is Robot Process Automation (RPA). For example, if your team currently pays all of your Accounts Payable invoices manually, there’s room for an automation here. Imposing the RPA takes a manual AP Invoice entry and allows the bot (robot) to perform this task, which frees your team to review the invoice details for correctness and cash flow considerations. Not only can your staff determine if the amount you’re paying is accurate, but they may also see if the invoice is being paid too early or too late based on the discounts offered and your organization’s cash flow requirements. This process can also include matching the invoice to an approved purchase order.
What Parts of Your Organization Can Be Automated?
Tasks that can be automated are:
- Rule-based — EXAMPLE: Send a reminder notice if a customer’s payment is five days late. Collating and making simple choices
- Repetitive— EXAMPLE: searching, cutting and pasting, updating the same data in multiple places, moving data around. Formatting reports over and over again in the same way.
- Computer-based— EXAMPLES: Price increases. Personnel statistics. Specified data are captured and delivered into daily/weekly/monthly reports.
- High-volume— EXAMPLES: Sales tracking. Inventory counted (manually) by SKU, PLU, in-process, etc. Production statistics (i.e., times, input and output quantities, quality, etc.)
- Rely on structured, readable input — EXAMPLES: Excel files or database fields as well as a PDF remittance advice in searchable text format which includes customer name, amount and invoice number.
Using Existing Software Reduces the Transition Cost and Stress
Microsoft 365 has hidden gems in their power suite of products, such as Power BI and Power Automate, although there are many more. These “FREE Robots” are waiting to be put to good use and challenge the “but-we’ve-always-done-it-this-way” mindset but in a less threatening way. Employees ease into an unfamiliar “automation mindset” by using familiar programs in new ways—making the transition easier.
Some organizations have embraced the digital age and use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (our tiny mobile devices use Machine Learning when they fill in words for us) throughout their organizations and need to refine them. Other businesses would like to begin automation but worry they don’t have enough time to review their existing processes. Each of these entities is on an exciting first step of their automation journey.
Auto manufacturing went from one car being completed before starting the next to the same process being done to many automobiles at one time. Their per-unit manufacturing costs went down, and your business costs could be similarly reduced. Auto workers didn’t lose jobs. As more cars were produced, more jobs became available. Autoworkers who wanted new challenges had more interesting work as they saw each new production method surpass the previous one.
This was achieved with machine robotics. RPA is not a robot that walks around but instead is a computer software that mimics the work of a human, following the same key stokes the human counterpart performed.
Benefits of Robot Process Automation (RPA)
From Finance and Accounting to IT and HR to Utility billing and Parks and Recreation, every department in the organization can benefit from Robot Process Automation RPA and its abbreviation siblings, AI and ML. So, which department goes first? And, who decides?
Your entire organization and all its departments can collaborate on the most accessible but biggest bang-for-the-buck place to start. And every organization will have a distinct set of needs. But start you must, as Yoda would say. Beginning the journey may be the most challenging part, but it will open your mind to the possibilities.
Summary of First Tier Benefits: You will see how you can grow your organization and its profits, increase production, reduce costs, and keep your employees happy by enriching their jobs. You will get more work done in fewer hours with fewer mistakes, leaving time for innovation and improvements across the organization.
Second Tier Benefits: As the organization starts their Digital transformation journey and begins to bring process automation to the forefront, you will notice that your employees, enjoy their jobs, become excited about the potential automation can bring to other areas of their work. Employees like to be part of a winning team. And—as you improve your processes with automation your customers and vendors will value the increased attention your team can give them. The employees can spend more time with the customers and vendors to meet their needs because they are freed up from mundane tasks.
Chinese proverb: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Your first step might be to call LSL CPAs to answer any questions you have (714) 672-0022 or Contact us!