Why and how Intelligent Automation can benefit medium-sized businesses

Many Australian businesses went through a real-life process stress test in the past year, and not all came out unscathed.

While a test of this scale is always going to be trying, it’s useful in exposing weaknesses in existing processes, as well as process gaps that need filling.

One recent survey estimated up to 60 percent of businesses needed to develop new processes to address Covid realities.

Where processes did exist, they were often found to be overly manual, inefficient and time-consuming to execute. For example, some processes:

  • Were overly reliant on all staff being in a single, central location, and broke when people shifted to remote work arrangements;
  • Broke due to the volume of people using them, such as trying to access customer support services or hardship relief;
  • Were already known to be inefficient but had functional workarounds that were simply pushed beyond breaking point; or
  • Were run by offshore providers that could not get online during Covid, meaning processes could not be executed as normal, leaving organisations and their customers in the dark.

All of these situations highlight the at-times brittle interdependencies in the way internal processes are designed and run.

But process efficiency is also a great leveller: whatever your size, there will always be processes that are inefficient and can be optimised or generally improved.

Intelligent automation opens possibilities

Intelligent automation is one of the key ways that processes are now being remediated and optimised.

Intelligent automation is an umbrella term that covers a range of new growth opportunities and capabilities, from business analysis and data analytics through to process automation, application integration and business process optimisation.

Many large organisations have already started on this path. Increasingly, intelligent automation is being put to work by much smaller and mid-market organisations. This is made possible by the emergence of newer, more cost-effective deployment and hosting models, and by the capability of specialists in the space that have tailored intelligent automation models for smaller-scale use.

Importantly, none of this is ‘bleeding edge’. It has been used and honed over the past five years as a way to make processes more efficient and data-driven.

In typical case study examples, processes that once took days or weeks to execute can be run and completed in a matter of minutes or hours.

Getting started

It’s important to approach intelligent automation with the right mindset and methodology.

First, document and understand your processes. Map out both the technical aspects and areas of human interaction. For small and mid-market businesses that have grown organically, this may be eye-opening. Be ready to think differently and rethink the way you may be doing things.

Next, make a start. There is no need to ‘boil the ocean’ when it comes to process transformation. Some of the best intelligent automation projects address simple but time-wasting processes.

For example, the best use of staff time isn’t cutting and pasting numbers between Excel tables, yet some of us still wind up doing it. By automating that, staff are freed to focus on higher-value strategic and creative tasks, leaving software robots to handle the mundane and repetitive work.

Intelligent automation may also be applied to a small portion of a more complex process that is inefficient.  For example, a typical new employee onboarding process involves many different roles within an organisation from HR and IT to Finance to name a few, as well as the use of several distinct systems which may lack native integration between them.

Automation can help streamline the onboarding process every step of the way.

Through assessing the employee profile, sending the relevant information and pre-filled documents to the correct systems (payroll, identity management systems, HR systems), and notifying relevant personnel, to remind them to complete their respective tasks. A bot will also ensure that the future employee is sent the relevant documents and that this documentation is completed on time.

Making it work

Intelligent automation is both doable and valuable for small to mid-sized businesses. The next step is to choose the right partner to support your journey.

An automation project very rarely starts and ends with robots. It starts with humans, and involves many systems and integration challenges. A partner that can offer a broad range of capabilities, not just automation, is crucial.

The right partner will be able to come up with a cost-effective operating model. They may be able to host and manage the software robots in a multi-tenanted environment, or offer a commercial model where the costs amount to a fraction of the money saved from using the technology.

It’s also important to pick a partner that is experienced and customer-focused to help achieve your goals. Intelligent automation means establishing a relationship where all parties are invested in the future success and enablement of your business.

For more than 30 years, Frédéric has always been involved with leading-edge technologies. An Artificial Intelligence Engineer by trade, Frédéric has worked in multi-media (who remembers the good-old CD-ROMs?) and the then-emerging World-Wide-Web for many years before joining Microsoft and surfing on the information management and productivity wave led by SharePoint, Office 365 and now Microsoft Teams. Through his numerous customer engagements, Frédéric has always had a keen interest in helping organisations improve their level of productivity. Frédéric’s focus has been on business process improvement and automation without ignoring the all-important human factors of carefully crafted end-user engagement, communication and change management. Complete the form below if you’d like to arrange a time to discuss with Frédéric how Tecala can help support your business.
Frédéric Pomi
Senior BDM and Intelligent Automation Sales Specialist


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