Process Automation

Process Automation

When you think of process automation you may think of long assembly lines lined with robots or complex artificial intelligence. While those are certainly valid examples, they make it hard to imagine what process automation can do for small business. Read on for a small example of the multitude of ways process improvement can reduce and streamline your workload:

Imagine yourself as the owner of a small landscaping business. What kind of routine decisions would you have to make; and what information would you need in order to make those decisions?

Suppose it’s payday, the last Friday of the month, and you’re running payroll for your employees using their timesheets. You notice that two of your employees, John and Mark, have entered 32 hours on their
timesheet for the preceding week, rather than the usual 40. You remember that they were out on the same job and are pleased that it took less time than expected. You finish processing the payroll and move on to your next task.

It’s now time for you to order inventory for the next week. You pull up this week’s folder on your computer containing logs created by each employee on a daily basis that list all supply items used by them. As you go through this information you total the supplies spent for the week. You realize that most of your sod supplies were used up on Monday itself and a new order will take at least two weeks to arrive. You wish that you had caught this sooner and hope that the remaining supplies will hold out until the new order arrives.

Towards the end of the day, it’s time to sort through all the checks, cash, and credit card payments you have received this week. It’s a long process as you need compare several sources of information in
order to accurately account for split payments, late payments, checks without memos and the occasional bounced check. Finally you have reconciled all the payments, and now it’s time to send out reminder emails with updated amounts to all overdue accounts. Luckily you have a template prepared and can easily manage to send an email a minute.

Now imagine the same series of tasks unfolding with the assistance of process automation:

You arrive at your desk in the morning and load up the spreadsheet containing payroll data. You click a button embedded in the spreadsheet to validate timesheets, and a report is automatically generated, with Mark’s name highlighted in red. You drill down into the report and notice that Mark has charged 32 hours for the preceding week and was on the job site for four days, Monday to Thursday. You then notice that Tuesday is tagged as a sick day for Mark in the system; it seems as he may have accidentally booked time for Tuesday, when in fact he was not working that day. As a precaution, you drill down into the job and notice that John was the other employee assigned to this task. A quick glance at John’s name on this report shows that there are no issues with his pay.

You then move on to the task of ordering inventory. You look through the orders placed automatically throughout the week and are thankful for the fact that a new shipment of sod is only a week away; it’s a
good thing you ordered it as soon as it started to run low! You also glance through the various charts and graphs that are updated every time you open this spreadsheet and notice that there is a downward
trend in orders for tulips as compared to this time prior year. You resolve to look into the tulips you are ordering, just in case there is a problem with their quality other than a matter of changing tastes.

Finally, it is time to follow up on overdue accounts. Your reconciliation spreadsheet has been automatically pulling in your banking data from your bank statements and assigning them to the correct accounts through matching payment dates and amounts. It isn’t perfect though, and the amounts that were unable to be matched are awaiting your inspection. It only takes a couple minutes for you to
assign the few unmatched amounts; after all, you only need to select their names from a drop down menu. Once you are done, another simple click of a button is all it takes to generate and send reminder emails to all outstanding overdue accounts.

As you can see, through process automation, small businesses have valuable tools at their disposal that streamline processes and provide greater insight into their day-to-day-operations; thereby enabling proactive and informed decision making.

For more information on how the process automation can benefit your business, we recommend engaging a professional for advice.

Should you wish to discuss your situation, please Contact Us.

Anant Arora



The contents of this article are written and published to provide general information and are not intended to substitute advice. As individual circumstances, which may be applicable in a specific situation, have not been addressed in this article, readers seeking specific advice may find the information misleading. Such readers are encouraged to consult a professional to obtain complete and relevant advice related to their situation. We have made every effort to prepare the information with care. However, we do not accept responsibility for its use and any outcome arising out of its use. Where opinions are expressed, such opinions do not reflect the facts of the subject matter and should not be considered as advice or recommendation(s).