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Automating Your Workflows in the Modern Workplace

By ECI | Thursday, December 1st, 2022

Automation is an integral component of any truly modernized workplace. Handing tasks and workflows over to a computer is perhaps the easiest way to improve efficiency. But automation isn’t solely about speed. In addition to saving time (and therefore money), automation can also reduce risk and take your business intelligence to the next level. 
 
Anytime something is being done manually, human risk enters the equation. With automation, that risk is removed. Meanwhile, organizations can access company-wide data much more easily thanks to the cloud. With savvy automation, you can also pull web data for more holistic context. Richer data breeds richer insights—insights that can directly impact revenue and performance.  
 
Of course, understanding the benefits of automation is one thing. Knowing how to reap them is another. Here are three tips for firms just starting to automate their workflows. 
 

1. Start with high-impact tasks that are easy to automate 

Automation shouldn’t be done blindly. Instead, start by creating an inventory of all processes and workflows in your organization. Each workflow should then be scored in two ways. First, estimate how difficult the workflow will be to automate. Second, estimate how impactful automation will be. These estimates are key to determining where to start. Choose tasks that are easiest to automate and that will have the highest impact. 

In the hedge fund world, for instance, there are seemingly endless compliance alerts and approvals—most sent via email. Automating this alert process is extremely high impact. Compliance people automatically receive an alert that an approval is required—and can handle it right from their phone. Offboarding employees is another high ROI task, as it’s extremely important to ensure accounts and access are shut down in a timely way. 

 

2. Balance empowering employees and creating guardrails 

Some organizations consider automation an IT project, to be built and deployed like any other application. In a truly modern workplace, though, employees are empowered to automate processes directly. Increasingly, automation can be done in a low-code manner via if-then statements and a drag-and-drop interface. Employees are the experts of their own workflows. They know best how to make their own jobs easier. 

Empowerment must always be balanced with sufficient guidance, though. Your organization’s goal should be to empower employees to automate their workflows while also building guardrails for them. If you let users simply run wild with automation, mistakes are likely to be made. It can be helpful to offer employees standard automation templates, a company-wide library for automation projects, and basic training in code management. If you’re not guiding your employees with trainings and best practices, you’re not truly empowering them to take advantage of automation.  

 

3. Choose the right platform 

The types of guardrails needed will also vary depending on what platform you choose. Deciding which platform is right for you can be difficult and will mainly depend on a) what you want to automate and b) your budget. To choose the right platform, a simple cost/benefit analysis is the way to go. Microsoft, for one, is a fantastic mid-sized, cost-effective platform. It boasts many integrations, but their depth is often limited. Its integration with Dropbox, for example, lets users copy files but not metatags. UI Path, on the other hand, has a library with depth and breadth, but it’s a bit more expensive. 

Sometimes, it’s better to choose the cheaper platform and to supplement with custom code. Regardless of the nuances, having a modernization partner to advise on such decisions—and to build custom code if needed—can make all the difference. This is likely your organization’s first attempt at automation. A partner that’s helped countless organizations automate workflows will bring important expertise to the table. They can even help you establish the necessary guardrails for your employees. 

All in all, choosing the right platform is important—but it’s just one of many decisions you’ll need to make on your automation journey. You also need to decide which workflows have the greatest ROI and how to democratize automation without creating digital anarchy. If you don’t know where to begin, contact ECI today. 

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