Bringing water to your village: what it means to automate
Whenever I contemplate the concept of automation, I am always reminded of a fable I was read as a child. In a rural village, there lived two opportunistic men, John and Rob, who were out to make it big. Luck so had it that they were awarded the jobs of water carriers for the whole town. Each day, they would make the journey to the nearby river, fill their buckets and carry them back to the village to fill the local water supply. They were paid by the bucket, and after the first day had each carried 100 buckets. They were rich.
John wasn’t so sure. He was incredibly tired, his body ached, and he didn’t dream of a life of heavy lifting even if the pay was great. But he had a plan. Whilst Rob would spend each day carrying buckets to and from the village, John would dig trenches and lay pipes for hours carrying just enough buckets to get by. After a few months, Rob had amassed a good fortune and was well respected amongst the village. John, having forgone his lucrative job in favor of aimless digging, was the laughing stock of the village.
After a whole year, the digging was complete. Pipes had been laid, and John was ready to reveal his project to the village. He gathered everyone by the water supply and opened the tap at the end of the pipe, and out came a solid stream of water right into the water tank. No one would ever have to carry buckets ever again. The village rejoiced.
Basic, yes, but the idea sticks well. Finding a simpler, automated way of doing certain jobs frees up resources like time, money and people to focus on more pressing matters.
In today’s times, the bucket system could be compared to most of our manual, email-and-paper-intensive processes. Whilst it gets the job done, there are definitely better ways to complete those tasks more efficiently with less effort. The bucket system had many drawbacks. The buckets could be filled at different levels, people carried more at the beginning of the day than at the end, different carriers could lift different amounts, etc. There were too many variables. Automating the process helped solve all of these issues, whilst freeing up the two men and their time.
The benefits of automation are far reaching within any organization. Some of the main benefits include:
- Savings on time and money
- Freeing up resources to be allocated elsewhere
- Ensuring consistency and quality
Business process automation also allows us to measure processes far more effectively. Using automation systems, we open up the opportunity to gauge different metrics and performance indicators and fine tune these as necessary. The ever-popular “dashboard” now found in most systems gives us access to a plethora of figures and analytics that allow us to better operate our organizations.
With that said, it would be foolish not to also acknowledge the converse side of the argument. Automated processes are not without their own challenges. Resistance to change and inability to adopt a new system are two of the biggest hindrances to successful automation implementation. As the technology adoption climate eases up globally, and people and businesses open up more to the use of technology and newer systems in everyday situations, the impact of system adoption and change resistance begins to soften.
The overarching theme here is that, when executed correctly, as an investment with specific and achievable goals, business process automation almost always reaps the benefits far outweighing the initial effort. Just like the year of digging trenches and laying pipes allowed John to automate his villages water supply and solve a problem with minimal upkeep, so too can process automation systems such as TAP allow you to automate your own business’s “water supplies” with minimal upkeep and maximum benefits.