Though there are a lot of fears and boogie men surrounding the subject of automation, most established companies can absolutely benefit from automation. Companies looking into automation should definitely have a few systems/procedures that have been used for a while and are concrete. Automation is only there to make inefficient systems efficient through the aid of technology. If the system is bad, automating isn’t going to help very much. In this post, I will walk you through my personal experiences with automation in several industries.
Field Service Industry
As Matterform’s lead developer, I’ve assisted many companies in automating some of their business processes. My main passion lies with field service industries from previous work I’ve done in my life. I worked as a field service technician for a large computer company servicing warranties on site. Being able to replace any piece of hardware on a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer is a challenge itself, but add on a complicated process for telling your employer that you’ve completed the work, and it becomes a nightmare.
My job would usually consist of 5-6 hours of actual work per day but 2-3 hours of the day was dedicated to actually telling my employer and other entities that work was completed. This was because my employer needed to know what work I completed to bill the manufacturer, but the computer manufacturer, my employer’s customer, would need to know that information as well to resolve their customer’s warranty requests. Parts were being sent to me from a third company and sent back to that company on a daily basis as well, so they needed information, too. As the only warranty repair technician in Albuquerque for a period of time, it was up to me to service every call. Since my time was directly limited by the paperwork aspect of my job, I was unable to focus on the work aspect of my job as much as I needed to, which certainly lead to less work being completed than could have been. When an employee is put in this situation, it’s very easy to see how they decide to look for greener pastures, which is exactly what I did. Automation could have fixed this issue and allowed me to focus on the actual work, rather than the paperwork. Almost all field service operations suffer from these types of issues, and therefore higher than average attrition.
At Matterform, one of my proudest achievements has been the work I’ve put into Work.fish. Work.fish is a software suite that specifically helps field service companies begin automating some of their processes. My end goal for Work.fish is for it to be the quick and easy to use software that I never had when I worked in the field service industry.
A common case I’ve seen where a manufacturing company benefits greatly from automation is when one or several employees are difficult or nearly impossible to replace. This is generally caused by an employee innovating a complicated system to perform their job effectively. They do the job better than anyone previous to them and the idea of having to replace them may give you nightmares. This employee often times has created a system that can be automated in order to make the position entirely trainable through a software process that walks the user through any number of complicated systems easily.
Any work involving inventory tracking can and should absolutely be automated. Counting inventory often is an expensive and, often times, ineffective way to stay on top of company assets. With software, like Toree.tools, we’ve seen great success utilizing software to keep accurate inventory. An added bonus to tracking everything through an automated process is you can gain insight from the data being collected. Spotting trends quickly can be a game changer for your company.
All Industry Back Office Operations
Possibly one of the most impactful places to automate in your business are the back office operations. When invoicing is driven directly by work being completed automatically, rather than a person spending their entire day manually counting beans, surprising things happen. We’ve seen cases where days are slashed on AR turnover changing a company from a largely credit based purchaser to a cash based purchaser. This change, in effect, more than paid for the software that company purchased simply by them all of the sudden not having as much money tied up in AR.
If you’re looking into automation, chances are you have some pain points in your business that you think technology can relieve. If you’re not sure where to start, that’s ok, reach out to us and we will solve that puzzle for you.