By Anup Nair, RSM India, Bernardo Vitale, RSM Uruguay and Rhys Morgan, RSM Canada.

How can automation save time and make organisations more efficient?

Every day, technology is rapidly advancing and the business world is presented with more opportunities to boost efficiency, reduce error rates, grow revenue and profitability. Automation is an area of technology which is fast becoming more accessible. Once restricted to larger businesses with big budgets to fund coding experts, low-code solutions have taken automation into the mainstream. The use of new software is now eliminating the need for valuable employees to spend countless hours on highly repetitive tasks. Through technology, simple tasks can be completed at speed with accuracy, reducing the risk of errors in manually input information. The advantages are clear in enabling employees to spend time on adding value to functions core to the business and driving growth.

Importantly, automation can also help organisations to make better, well-informed decisions. Automation can process volumes of data at the press of a button. Bernardo Vitale, a Risk Advisory Services and Consulting specialist in RSM Uruguay says, “We have designed an automation for the accounting entry system that allowed us to download and generate entries in a matter of seconds, saving more than 3 or 4 hours of work for each company.” Speed of processes is a key benefit, but implementation can also be time efficient. Vitale continues, “It took us about 1 month to implement it. We also designed an hourly load alert automation that allows us to make an evaluation of all the hours worked in the month by each employee. This automation saves 1 day of work for the person in charge of carrying out these controls, free of errors. This process took a few weeks to implement, including development.”

The benefits of automation are clear - it can help save time and money but also reduce or eliminate human error, allowing employees to focus on more value-added work. This helps improve job satisfaction as well delivering improvements to the bottom line.

Where do you start?

For businesses considering embarking on adopting automation, here are some key pointers in selecting where to start:

  • Processes involving a lot of data entry.  Manual data entry is time consuming and error prone. These manual tasks can be streamlined using APIs, other systems integrations combined with automation routines. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) can also be used to scan documents and extract typed or handwritten information into formats that can be ingested into other systems. 
  • Processes that are well-defined and which have high throughput. This is a very significant indicator that a process could be automated to reduce the need for employees having to repeat a task over and over. Typically, these types of tasks include invoicing, approving bill payments, mailing and shipping and categorising emails.
  • Processes where impact of errors is high.  There are a number of processes which present risk to a business such as a risk to security or customer privacy, which can have serious consequences. Human error is a high risk to both of these examples. Automation can reduce errors, decipher mistyped numbers and help to identify duplicate entries.

How are industries responding to the use of automation?

“With the pandemic looming large over the globe, companies had to take swift action to be agile during this phase. This included automation techniques to reduce the manual burden on business teams.” Says Anup Nair, IT System Assurance & Advisory – National Practice Leader, RSM India.

“These days health insurance companies are depending on Artificial Intelligence for claims approval, thereby realising two major advantages - Better turnaround time and removal of human dependence on claims verification and processing. Using Intelligence Character recognition (ICR) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR), the manual efforts to update the claim across a number of systems has significantly reduced. Once the claim data is uploaded in the system, the AI based technology evaluates the admissibility of the claim. Deep learning modules automatically provide the amount to be approved using defined algorithms. As a result, the time required for reading and then subsequently approving the form has become a matter of seconds. The entire process can be completed in just a minute compared to hours earlier and reducing human dependency and errors in the process. Further automated chat bots are reducing the burden on the stretched support staff.”

“One more example is Automation and Digitalisation in the Payment Industry.” Nair continues, “In India, payment can be done digitally without touching cash, which restricts physical interaction. We have created a Unified Payment Interface (UPI), which made a transaction just a click away.”

This type of automation has resulted in:

  • Reducing multiple touch points
  • Reduced human interactions
  • Making payments faster
  • Reduced error rates
  • Effective transaction tracing and error identification

A key benefit is that these digital solutions include process and artificial intelligence, so the chances of fraud are reduced as use of cash and ATMs is falling drastically

Turning to the financial services sector, according to Rhys Morgan, Management and Technology Consulting Partner in RSM Canada, “In the Financial Services sector, banks have focused a lot of their pre-pandemic efforts on their customer-facing operations with digital solutions such as online banking to make it easier for customers to interact with the bank. The convenience offered by these digital solutions has resulted in an increasing number of mobile payments and the reduction in cash transactions. However, many processes at banks still rely heavily on people manually processing customer requests and using paper. The pandemic has highlighted and accelerated the challenges of such manual process models.”

“Given these challenges, IT functions at major banks are leveraging automation to achieve promising results and transform banking operations.  A prime case is a major Canadian bank deciding to automate its account transfer process by looking at the existing process from customer, efficiency and risk dimensions. This led the team to uncover significant data verification issues, lack of integration and manual/paper-based processes used by back-office and branch employees. By automating business processes and using the right IT solutions, the bank managed to reduce the amount of time staff spent handling account transfers by 70% while enjoying a significant ROI of 75% within 15 months.”

The future is automated.

If your ambition is to grow your business in the twenty first century, then your strategy must include automation. Your customers are increasingly expecting to see the benefits of automation. Businesses ignoring this trend do so at their peril.

If you would like to know more about how to save time and money and improve the reliability of your key businesses processes through automation, please get in touch with us.