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Automation or elimination: which is the better choice for your business?


Many companies are feeling the effects of the cost-of-living crisis. Rising costs mean belts have to be tightened, and some are looking at how they can do more with less. It’s still business, after all – revenue needs to go up, customer service has to be at a premium, and costs have to be lowered where possible.


So it’s no surprise that automation looks like an appealing option for many. Let technology do the heavy lifting while you save time and reduce overheads. There are countless solutions on the market, so one has to be a perfect solution, surely?


But is automation always the answer? Or can you take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and find a different, more effective path?


Automation as a catch-all solution

When you’re looking for measurable financial improvements, automation can seem like the obvious choice. If you’re limited in resources, then any opportunity to cut wages, reduce the need for machinery, or leave unnecessary office space is a welcomed relief. 


Automating aspects of your operations can bring other benefits, too. Let’s say your team currently spends 80% of its time on administrative tasks, leaving only 20% for client-facing work. Using technology to automate their daily, repetitive admin can help rebalance the scales. You might not cut costs, but you’re going to be able to differentiate your business through a premium customer service – increasing revenue in the long run.


At the same time, if you have 500 in a department where a competitor only has 5, automation isn’t going to be a quick fix. And this isn’t an exaggeration; this is an actual case we’ve seen. There’s something to be said for looking at competitors and industry best practice to see what you might be missing.


Elimination vs automation

Before you start analysing the top three solutions to automate a certain process, stop and ask yourself why you’re drawn to this idea. Why do you still do this process? What is its purpose? What tangible value does it add to the bottom line, staff, or customer experience? 


Automating your customer service channels by introducing a chatbot or automated system could help you reduce wage costs and free up staff time. But instead, you could ask yourself why your customers are having to call you in the first place. Why your staff are feeling overworked and stressed. Have you tried solving those problems first? A better, more future-proof solution would be to eliminate these customer issues root and stem. 


57% of business professionals plan to implement automations that improve customer experience. But what if improving this experience meant rethinking your processes entirely, rather than just speeding up an already flawed process? Often, the most innovative ideas come from other industries. So where can that add to what you already have?


Go back to basics

The goal of automation is to make measurable improvements to your finances, efficiency, and operations. To better deliver on the vision of the business. But by not taking a step back and thinking about why you do what you do, you could just end up walking quicker in the wrong direction.


Before jumping to automation, take time to map out all your business processes and get crystal-clear on what you’re trying to achieve. This way, you can better determine if a process serves its purpose, or if it’s best cut out entirely. 


Sometimes this means asking yourself if you’re doing something because it’s right or because it’s just the way it’s always been done. Keep peeling the layers back to figure out why there are problems in the first place. Where are you not delivering on your vision? What you have on your hands might not be a question of technology, but of operations.


Automation can be a great tool for patching up inefficiencies, but it’s not always the answer. To make long-term progress, avoid blindly automating your operations, without first zooming out to see if there are bigger problems to solve or bigger gains to be made. As we look towards the year ahead, let’s think smarter about how we approach our issues, and work to eliminate anything that doesn’t work.


At Quantive Consulting, our IT consultancy and fractional CIO support will help get to the bottom of your inefficiencies. Together we can strengthen your bottom line, improve staff and customer satisfaction, and bring you closer to your long-term goals, whether or not automation is the answer. Get in touch to find out more.