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Accelerating automation to cope with post-pandemic recovery

Automation
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Vasin Lee)

With productivity and profitability front of mind for every business, achieving organizational efficiency has never been so critical. Against a backdrop of economic recession, many are simply trying to keep the lights on. Others, however, are exploring new ways to create fresh opportunities and accelerate existing digital transformation efforts.

Whether surviving or thriving, expectations across the enterprise remain the same – more work needs to be completed faster. However, with teams now spanning various locations and many organizations still struggling to engage a fully remote workforce, that’s easier said than done.

Managing various team members and their workloads can be difficult at the best of times. When you then take away the – often overlooked – benefits of face-to-face communication, it’s easy for wires to get crossed and for productivity to dip.

Fortunately, these issues aren’t impossible to overcome. With technology on your side, teams can be just as collaborative and productive as they were in the office – if not more.

Re-evaluating operations

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced organizations to re-evaluate the way in which they operate. From the tools they use to track projects, to how they onboard new team members, every aspect of their working model has been assessed.

In a bid to reduce obstacles and maintain pace, any technologies or functions not contributing to either productivity or profitability have been cut. In comparison, those that automate repetitive tasks and allow teams to communicate more effectively have been prioritized. It is this approach that has allowed many businesses to carry on operating.

By deploying software solutions that can simultaneously help build more efficient processes and monitor resource allocation, organizations can achieve better overall visibility. In turn, they can expect to experience greater levels of productivity.

No room for risk

Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, many of these technologies leverage analytics capabilities and multiple data sets to assist businesses in task prioritization and document processing. Perhaps the most significant functionality, however, is their ability to predict risk.

Project risk prediction platforms use ML technology to identify and flag any potential delays, bringing them to the attention of the project owner. They consider numerous factors including complexity, the number of completed and overdue tasks, the number of assignees, and report history.

After taking each of these into account, an automated risk assessment prediction will be issued. For both medium, and high, risk levels the machine learning model will also provide a list of factors that contribute to potential delays.

Now more than ever there is no room for error. Businesses must therefore take immediate action to reduce delays and ensure the success of a project, focusing solely on activities that will deliver against company objectives.

Efficient task prioritization

Earlier this year, two-thirds (66 percent) of all businesses that were continuing to trade indicated that their financial performance was outside of its ‘normal’ range, with 93 percent of these claiming turnover was lower than usual.

Concerned about surviving the impact of the pandemic, organizations have had no choice but to streamline and prioritize as much as possible. For many, this has meant reducing the amount of time spent on tasks that aren’t driving obvious bottom-line business value.

Often, it’s the small and repetitive tasks that not only take up a lot of time but, over long periods, can cost companies considerable sums of money. We also know that these are the jobs that are frequently associated with poor employee satisfaction and disengagement. However, many of these tasks are essential in helping to ensure that wider business processes are running efficiently.

Automate, trigger, repeat

Too much manual work will keep teams from being productive, while the work not being done at all will stop the business from being profitable. The key is finding the right balance – organizations need to be able to optimize activity where possible, without staff feeling bogged down or projects becoming exposed to risk.

Any manual process that takes a lot of time but produces very little value can – and should – be automated.  This also applies to planned, consistent, and repeatable patterns or activities, otherwise known as workflows.

An automated workflow system removes the need to manually move work through the standard process. Once one step is completed, the next step is instantly triggered. This not only improves speed, accuracy, and efficiency across a number of different business processes, but also relieves staff and allows them to focus on more value-added tasks.

A single source of truth

In addition to helping reduce time gaps in processes, organizations using AI and ML technologies to automate across the enterprise can also expect to benefit from improved accountability, greater transparency, and the holy grail – better productivity.

When a centralized system is tracking tasks, their status, their potential risk factor and how likely they are to complete on time, everyone has access to a single source of truth. Management can view project workflows in their entirety, understanding who is owning each aspect of a task in one place.

With entire businesses set to work remotely for the foreseeable future, organizations must find ways to boost accountability and encourage employees to take responsibility for their work. When a company maintains good team accountability, it leads to increased commitment, higher morale, and better outcomes – all of which are essential to navigating the current economic climate.

By understanding how a specific task or project is performing, automation software enables businesses to see what is working and what isn’t. At a time when there is strictly no room for error, this will prove critical to the success of a company. Automation can help organizations around the world that are discovering the challenges and opportunities that come with changing the way that they operate. Whether looking to streamline processes, increase productivity or boost revenue, automation-led tools can make all the difference.

David McGeough, Director of International Marketing, Wrike