6 minute read

Mark Holbrook,
January 2020

There is a very strong case for digital automation in general. It benefits the bottom line, reduced business risk, keeps people such as staff and customers happy and much more.

Automation in the organisation has taken large strides in the last couple of years. The typical Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) seem to be using many different systems for different purposes, seeking to grow and keep operations running smoothly.

However for some reason many SMEs don't have the digital automation piece in place to make it work. These SMEs are forgoing one of the biggest - if not the biggest, ROI that they can expect from any system in their business. In fact, the biggest shared frustrations for the SME are activities that can be automated and considerably reduced. Long email chains, errors in work, documentation hassles, data entry, late approvals and missing deadlines are just some.

The Financial Case for Digital Automation

There is a very strong case for digital automation in general. It benefits the bottom line, reduced business risk, keeps people such as staff and customers happy and much more.

But let's solely look at the financial benefit. Think about the top 3 pain points in your business' operations. It could be bottlenecks in your project delivery process, inaccurate information or simply things just taking too long.

Now imagine if you could improve these processes by reducing the resources needed to complete the tasks, reducing the errors involved in the tasks or by speeding up the tasks. If you could achieve a 10% improvement across the board that would be a big win for most SMEs and the case for digital automation would be a hard option to turn down.

Let's look at an example for a SME who provides insurance as their core service.

The current business process The challenges Exisitng annual cost of operation Estimated automation improvements Savings on annual cost of operation
A claims process requires communication, research and tasks to be completed between the business, claimants, medical professionals, legal professionals and others. The challenges include:

  • Decentralised communications
  • Finding and updating information in different data systems
  • Data entry
  • Awaiting approvals from internal and external stakeholders
  • Compliance
$1,300,000 15% $195,000

The above savings are a direct result of digital automation reducing the need for resources and reducing the time to complete tasks. However let's look at the hidden savings automation can provide.

Hidden Financial Benefits

  1. Compliance and Risk
    Digital automation will assist the SME in meeting compliance requirements. Ensuring that all compliance requirements are met can be a challenge without a tight process. Automation can ensure that all required actions and data are collected along the entire life-cycle of an activity. This will reduce a business' risk of failing audits, losing critical information required for legal reasons and more.

  2. Resource Reallocation
    By reducing its need to apply human effort to low-level tasks such as data entry and the like, SMEs can instead apply human effort to more beneficial task such as quality assurance. This will lead to improved quality across the organisation.

  3. Business Velocity
    Automation paves the way for more to be done with available time. By having projects completed quicker; getting to market earlier; and getting paid faster, an SME can expand quicker, deliver more products and services to the market; and learn faster.