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Industry analysts believe we are amidst a fourth industrial revolution - or Industry 4.0. The way business is conducted and the techniques organisations use to cut costs and grow is changing.
Now, more than ever, businesses are ripping up their outdated workflows and looking for systems and practices that save valuable time and resources. That’s what’s driving Industry 4.0 - and at the heart of that is automation.
McKinsey found that 66% of organisations have at the very least begun piloting automation of business processes. In the same study, 31% of firms said they have already fully automated at least one function.
Why are businesses automating processes? What are the benefits of business automation? What tools can facilitate this transition? How can Microsoft Power Automate help?
In this article, we’ll explore the exciting world of business automation and introduce you to the power of Microsoft’s Power Automate platform.
To explore why businesses are turning to automation, let’s first combat a common myth: that automating processes will lead to redundancies and replace people.
Certainly, in the current applications of automation, this is far from the truth.
Businesses are pursuing automation to optimise employees’ time use, to better utilise their resources and provide a better customer experience.
Automation and the use of AI to better handle data lead to a significant reduction in the labour hours spent on mundane and repetitive tasks. PwC refers to a“workforce shift” where employees are freed to better contribute to innovative strategies and growth activities.
The main gains from automating workflows come when dealing with data. PwC found that automating data analytics using AI extraction and automation can save businesses up to 40% of hours spent on data analysis.
By automating repetitive tasks, you can optimise the way your employees use their time. This improves productivity and thus efficiency.Your staff can spend more time creating value, thus increasing revenue. The expulsion of inefficient legacy techniques - such as paperwork or printing and filing records - will help bring down operating costs.
Finally, automating processes improves your employees’ quality of life and satisfaction. They can spend less time on tedious admin tasks and more on what they’re good at - leading to a happier, more productive workforce.
Now we’ve briefly introduced you to the why of business automation, let’s discuss the how. How can businesses implement automation into their existing workflows? The answer is simple: using MicrosoftPower Automate.
Microsoft Power Automate is a workflow automation engine that allows your business to streamline repetitive tasks and implement revolutionary paperless processes.
With Power Automate, you can automatically move data between systems, carry out complicated workflows and even control processes natively on your PC with programs such as Excel.
Power Automate uses a wide array of integrations with common business apps and services to provide a simple, drag-and-drop application for creating automated “flows”.
- Power Automate works with the apps and services you already use -including Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, Office, Freshbooks, DropBox, Google Drive and more.
- Workflows can be accessed and carried out from anywhere using a desktop standalone app, a mobile app, a web platform and even integrates withMicrosoft Teams
- Using an AI builder, you can optimise workflows quickly - without any technical knowledge needed.
Let’s explore Microsoft’s Power Automate in practice. How can certain departments benefit from automating their processes?
Power Automate can integrate with Customer Relationship Management(CRM) platforms like Salesforce or Dynamics 365 Sales. Indeed, McKinsey states that a third of all sales tasks can be automated.
Examples of automation in Sales & Marketing include:
- Automated workflows for each sales interaction
- Simplify lead generation through lead scoring and profiling using AI
- Automated ingest of marketing data
- Creation of email lists (through integrations with MailChimp)
- Automatically track Twitter mentions and export this data into a spreadsheet (or indeed, add to an email list)
Accounting and finance teams are often inundated with tedious workflows. Automation can help save time but also reduce the chance of human error.
Here’s how Power Automate can help finance teams:
- Automation tools can carry multi-stage approvals from start to finish by ensuring files and documents are sent exactly where they need to be for approval.
- Invoicing can be entirely automated where quotes and orders can instantly be invoiced and billed with little to no human input.
- With Power Apps integration, finance departments can create customer portals to make orders, request financial information and access invoices.
- Tools like Power Automate can integrate with accounting platforms like QuickBooks or Freshbooks to handle expenses recording autonomously.
Human Resources departments play a significant role in any organisation but are often neglected of resources such as staffing, to properly function. Therefore, automating tedious processes can seriously lighten the burden on HR teams.
- Automating timesheet reporting and approval: Timesheets can be generated through Microsoft Calendar entries and can be sent via Team for line managers to approve automatically.
- Improve the speed of onboarding: Keep line managers in the loop of progress, automate onboarding communications and automatically schedule meetings based on milestones.
- Simplify sick leave and absence: One-click sick leave reporting and leave requests that are guided across multi-stage approvals.
The age of automation is here. Unlock efficiency gains and free up your workforce by expelling the mundane, repetitive tasks that are slowing you down.
Which tasks should you automate? Consider actions that:
- Need completing frequently
- Have a familiar, repetitive workflow
- Take a significant time to complete
- Require multiple people at once to complete
- Fit into wider workflows
These sorts of tasks result in the highest “ROI” on automation.