While it is true that automation is offering the greatest assistance in the field of Manufacturing, that does not mean it has reached its fullest potential. As automation is making its way to the workplace, back-office functions as we know them today are bound to be transformed. So what does this mean for the backbone of business administration?
Back-Office Automation and its Benefits
In a sense, the back office is the cornerstone of an organization. Encompassing various department from HR, and IT to finance and administration, the back office is where the products and services that the front office sell to the clients are produced. Thus, ensuring an efficient and smooth-running back office means ensuring the success of a business.
Recognizing this importance, many C-suite officers are now racing to make headway in back-office optimization as a competitive advantage. The solutions they have come to? Automation.
Automation, or Intelligent Automation (IA) to be exact, is the implementation of labor-saving technologies such as robots (or bots), machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) to replace manual workers. Thanks to its versatility and adaptability, Automation has been utilized by many companies and organizations for their back-office operations.
The benefits of Back-Office Automation include, but not limited to:
- Minimized human errors and improved efficiency
- Reduced expenses and time consumption
- Better document and data management and analysis
- Prevent fraud and waste
- Faster operational processes and decision making
- Enhanced cross-department communications
- Improved customer support
According to McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), 45% of the total workload in today’s society could implement automation and about 60% of all occupations could see at least 30% of their constituent activities automated, both by current technologies. From this, we can easily see that the potentials for workplace automation in general, and back-office automation in specific are limitless.
Meanwhile, in a report on Automation in the Workplace by Smartsheet, among the employees whose work has not been automated, 28% said their department has plans to do so in the future “ with 75% of that group expecting it to happen within two years.
From such research, we can conclude that workplace automation is an imminent and almost inevitable trend of the future. The only thing that employers can do is embrace it. But where can they start? Here are some back-office functions, divided by departments, that are ripe for automation with the technologies we have right now.
Top Back-Office Functions for Automation
Timesheet management can refer to the internal time-keeping systems or the more sophisticated vendor management systems which typically need to be outsourced. Traditionally, this information used to be handled through emails or faxes, which can prove to be extremely tedious and complex. Now, thanks to technological advances, attendance checks and access permission now can be managed by automatic cards or biometric data. At CMC Global, we even took it a step further by implementing facial recognition to track staff attendance.
Keeping each staff of every department abreast with their latest tasks and news updates is part and parcel of the work of Administration officers. Adding to this, they are also responsible for tracking the conditions of these projects, and managing any additions, closures, and renewals, all the while ensuring timely delivery. However, with a wide variety of functions, each with different sets of requirements, this field of work is particularly susceptible to human errors. Now, automation in data processing can extract raw data, and analyze and process them to ensure an error-free operation. Even with documents and internal news, bulk email can be deployed to send messages and emails to a large number of recipients, with customization included.
All of these updates accumulate to workflow automation where back-office functions of the administrative department are carried out smoothly and accurately.
Finance and Accounting
Both account payables and account receivables are important processes in the business running aspect of any company. Luckily, both of these functions can be enhanced by automation
In general, the AP department is responsible for managing payments, bills, and invoices owed by the company to its suppliers. Regardless of their sizes, companies big or small all have a considerable influx of invoices coming every day, which in turn lowers processing efficiency. With AP automation, at least 70% of invoices will be received automatically, with a 90% boost to the yearly work productivity of an AP clerk. What’s more, the technology also helps to reduce costs by eliminating many redundant manual tasks and human errors.
Simply put, the AR department serves an opposite role to the AP department, dealing with payments coming from debtors. Similar to its counterpart, the overwhelmingly cumbersome workload of this function can be relieved with automation. It can take the manual element completely out of the four main areas of receivable accounting: order processing, order fulfillment, invoicing, and cash allocation, leaving out the possibility of human errors. Thereby, organizations can not only shorten their invoice processing times but also increase cash flows.
Of course, data management is not limited to any department. However, the HR department is responsible for the data of hundreds of employees and staff members, making this one of the highest volume, transaction-heavy processes. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends study, 22% of the highest-performing HR organizations are currently implementing or have implemented automation, as opposed to a mere 6% of the lowest-performing organizations. The same study also reported that close to 50% of HR global shared services executives believe RPA will improve 10 to 20% of their businesses’ revenues, with 9% expecting a savings of 40% or more.
As the company expands, so are its staffing numbers. The available workforce is becoming more competitive than ever, causing employers to take on as many millennial talents as possible, the sooner the better. With this constant wave of newbies, the amount of workload for the HR team will be tremendous. Thus, they would need to fall back on automation. Bots can offer assistance in standard form-filling, notifications, and various database records populations. Once again, this AI-driven technology will save time and deliver error-free work in minutes while avoiding massive email trails of communication.
IT: Service Desk
IT service desk is there to solve any requests or reports from any department across the organization. Though such work is important, many tasks are dull and repetitive, creating a less-than-ideal working environment. With the help of intelligent automation, incoming tickets can be automatically triaged and directed to the right queue. Specifically designed bots can resolve such mundane cases as password resets and other common issues using an IT-approved workflow. In the end, these solutions allow IT personnel to focus on more strategic and pressing priorities, while still maintaining workflow continuity.
Back-Office Automation Tools
In one of our previous blogs, we have come up with a comprehensive list of the top RPA tools of 2020. These are the leading platforms for business automation, not only for the back office but also for every section of business operation. The list includes:
- Leaders: UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, WorkFusion
- Challengers: NICE, EdgeVerve Systems, Kofax
- Visionaries: Microsoft, Pegasystems, Servicetrace
- Niche Players: NTT, Samsung SDS, HelpSystems, SAP, AntWorks, Jacada
At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that the “leaders” do not necessarily mean the best vendor for your business. The key to automation is to have the services and solutions customized to your needs and demands. In order to do so, choosing a trustworthy partner to accompany you on your automation journey is vital.
Here at CMC Global, we are confident in our Automation capabilities. In December 2019, our mother company, CMC Corporation became a comprehensive strategic partner of Samsung SDS, a rising RPA platform. At the same time, CMC Global also acquired 10 more RPA Automation Anywhere certificates, proving our capacity for automation deployment. With our talented engineers and fierce determination, CMC Global is committed to bringing the best solutions and services to our clients.