A new Stage in the Evolution of Automation Systemsby@rachelbb
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A new Stage in the Evolution of Automation Systems

by Rachel BurnhamMay 20th, 2021
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Automation of business processes can significantly improve the quality of management in a company and the quality of its product.

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The constantly changing market conditions, high speed in decision-making, multitasking in asset management and the need to reduce risks require modern approaches to organizing business activities.

Complex automation of business processes becomes a way out in the conditions of the evermore complicated internal and external environment of the enterprise. It allows you to free up precious resources for strategic planning and concentration of management in key areas of the company.

Business and Automation: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Business automation is a partial or complete transfer of stereotyped operations and business tasks under the control of a specialized information system, or hardware and software complex.

As a result - the release of human and financial resources to increase labor productivity and the effectiveness of strategic management.

Automation is Usually Carried out in two Directions:

  1. Automation of key business processes: for example, sales management, customer service, social media marketing. In this case, it is carried out to directly increase the volume of sales, the number of products and increase the profitability of the entire business as a whole.
  2. Automation of supporting processes such as cutting-edge accounting solutions, reporting, office work. Such automation does not directly affect the increase in income, but it helps to reduce the time and costs of doing routine work.

The main tasks of business automation are as follows:

  • effective support of the operational activities of the enterprise, organization of accounting and control;
  • preparation of any documents for partners, including waybills, invoices, reconciliation acts, and business proposals;
  • quick receipt of reports on the state of affairs in the company for any period of time;
  • optimization of personnel costs, increasing the efficiency of using working time by freeing employees from routine work;
  • minimizing the negative impact of the "human factor" on the most important business processes;
  • secure storage of information;
  • improving the quality of customer service.

Automation of business processes can significantly improve the quality of management in a company and the quality of its product. For the enterprise as a whole, it provides a number of significant advantages.

  • Increasing the speed of information processing and solving repetitive tasks.
  • Increasing the transparency of the business and its technological effectiveness.
  • Increased consistency of staff actions and quality of their work.
  • The ability to control large amounts of information.
  • Automation of manual labor.
  • Reduced errors and improved control accuracy.
  • Parallel solution of several tasks.
  • Fast decision-making in stereotyped situations.

As a result of automating business process management, the head of the enterprise receives more information for analyzing business processes in the form of detailed analytical reports and has the ability to qualitatively manage the company taking into account external and internal indicators.

Most companies begin automation with routine labor-intensive processes, as well as with operations that significantly affect profits and revenue: finance and accounting, document flow, production, and warehouse accounting.

Automation of such areas of activity as enterprise management, marketing, quality management, and external communications at most Russian enterprises is just beginning.

In the context of the economic crisis, the priorities in the field of business process automation are changing somewhat. The main trends of the current season include the following:

  1. The use of cloud technologies. The main difference between this automation method is the absence of its own server in the company. Such systems are very popular with small businesses, as they cost significantly less than the traditional version.
  2. Active automation of marketing tools: implementation of CRM systems, contextual advertising automation systems, and BI systems.
  3. Development of inter-machine communication technologies. The emerging trend of M2M - Machine to Machine - assumes minimal human participation in those processes where possible, since the complication of business processes and equipment does not always allow a person to adequately assess and respond to a changing situation.
  4. Using big data tools. Another trend in the development of business process automation is attention to big data and related business intelligence. They are in demand by large companies since specialized expensive equipment is required to process big data.
  5. Real-time data analysis. Business automation systems will evolve towards real-time transaction processing, resulting in fully synchronized operations.

ERP: a new stage in the Evolution of Automation Systems

"Island" automation of individual business processes of a company sooner or later becomes ineffective, since attempts to combine several different automation systems into a single whole are often unsuccessful. When implementing the “island” approach, the goal of improving the overall performance of the enterprise is usually not set.

In contrast to this, an integrated business automation system is a system for managing the financial and economic activities of a company and ensures the maintenance of operational, managerial, and accounting records in general.

The concept of an integrated enterprise management system - ERP - was developed back in the late 80s of the last century. In the early 90s, it began to gain popularity as control systems began to appear that could implement this concept.

The ERP system is based on the principle of creating a single information space that helps to track in real-time all information about business processes in all divisions of the company.

ERP systems are built on a modular basis, and their structure implies the presence of separate blocks that are responsible for a specific process. Thanks to this principle of organization, it is possible to refine and expand the functionality of the entire system as new technologies appear, changes in legislation, or customer needs.

Most ERP systems include the following groups of modules:

  • logistic;
  • industrial;
  • marketing
  • providing;
  • sales;
  • others.

How to choose a software product

When choosing software for a business process automation system, you can go in two ways:

  1. use of a typical product;
  2. development and implementation of individual software.

In order to choose a specific program correctly, it is important to answer a number of very serious questions:

  1. What business processes are you planning to automate?
  2. Will the functionality of this or that program correspond to the tasks assigned to it?
  3. Is it possible to customize it for a specific business practice?
  4. Is it possible to quickly change the system without shutting down operations in the event of a change in business processes or business conditions?
  5. How easy is the system to use?
  6. Is it possible to integrate the system with existing services or automation programs?
  7. Who will provide technical support and how?
  8. How much will implementation and technical support (ownership) cost?

Since it is almost impossible to independently and at the same time competently answer these questions, it is advisable to get advice from vendor companies (software developers). In addition, you should talk with your business colleagues, as their experience sometimes helps to make a choice.

However, it is important to understand that opinions in the business community can be very subjective, due to the specifics of the industry, the size of the enterprise, limited experience in owning various ERP systems, and, as a result, the inability to see the whole picture as a whole and compare all products in relation to your conditions.

As for whether to automate individual processes or install an ERP system, it all depends on the specifics of a particular enterprise.