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What are the benefits of the automation process, and why should you use it?

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of automation. The business automation process is a very effective way to lead you on the path to expanding your company, but what are the benefits? Why should we employ business automation systems?

Business automation tools free up employees of their often time-consuming ‘extra work’ and allow them to focus on more important and strategic projects, with an auditable data trail. Data trails are used by company management and teams to drive the business forward, increase efficiency and productivity, and power critical business decision-making processes.

If it sounds easy because it is. The automation tools serve organizations of all sizes and can scale up to boost operational processes, projects, and tasks, across companies, departments, and teams. The benefits of automated business processes are immense, but at the top of the list, are time, resource, and cost-savings.

Why Automation is Important

Given the right tools, automating computer operations can be surprisingly easy and can reap major benefits. Understanding these benefits and some obstacles will help you develop support for an operations automation project.

5 Major Benefits of Automation

 1. Reducing Operational Costs

Every business faces global pressure to increase its profitability. One approach is to reduce costs. But, reducing the capabilities of the computer center negatively impacts the entire company.

Automation is a better and more intelligent approach to cost containment and reduction. The greatest opportunity is to increase service to the customer (end-user) while systematically reducing costs.

2. Increasing Productivity

As a business´s technology demands grow, productivity becomes a bigger concern. Typically, other business areas were given tools to increase their productivity and effectiveness.

As people use more computers, they place greater demands on the system. More users are generating more jobs, and printed output has increased despite efforts to reduce printed reports.

Automated operations can resolve these issues in several ways.

Job scheduling software increases batch throughput by automating the production batch schedule. In the early days, computer throughput was limited by how fast operators could reset switches on the console. The solution for today is not to allow the computer to remain idle while waiting for the operator to release the next job. You save time and money by eliminating the lag time between jobs and minimizing operator intervention. In some instances, you can trim hours off your process, which lets you process more work and significantly improve system use.

Once the job schedule is established, the automation software executes the commands precisely and in the correct sequence, eliminating operator errors.

3. Ensuring High Availability

Companies are continually more reliant on their computers. Day-to-day business is routinely conducted with online systems: order entry, reservations, assembly instructions, shipping orders, and the list go on. If the computer is not available, the business suffers.

Years ago, it was considered acceptable to have the computer unavailable for a few hours. Today, with the high volume of cloud computing, the outage of key systems can cost millions of dollars in lost revenue and tarnish a company’s reputation.

High availability is one of IT management’s primary goals. Here too, automated operations can help. A disk drive may crash, but the situation becomes serious when there is not an adequate backup, or worse, the tape cannot be found. A key advantage to automation is the ability to automate your save and recovery systems to ensure protection from the potential disaster of disk loss, or inadvertent damage to system objects from human error.

4. Increasing Reliability

Productivity is an obvious benefit of automation. However, reliability is the real gem that sparkles with automation. It is the cornerstone of any good IT operations department and without it; you have confusion, chaos, and unhappy users. IT operations require two opposed skill sets: On one hand, an operations person needs highly technical skills, such as the ability to understand the complexities of an operating system and to analyze and solve problems as they arise. On the other hand, this same person has to be content pushing buttons and loading paper.

Automated operations ensure that jobs are not forgotten or run out of sequence, that prerequisite jobs are completed successfully, that the input data is correct, and that any special processing is performed.

All these types of errors occur in single-location organizations. Now, imagine a network of multiple systems, geographically dispersed that include multiple operating systems, communications issues, integrated local area network processing, and attached PCs. The chance for errors rises exponentially. The only way to make this type of environment work is automated operations.

The benefit of an automated system is that these functions are reliably executed by the automation software, relieving operations personnel from hours of tedious, boring, and manual tasks.

5. Optimizing Performance

Every company would like to have their enterprise perform like a thoroughbred. In reality, it is more likely to be overburdened with work. Even though advancements in computers make them faster and less expensive every year, the demands on them always catch up and eventually exceed the level of capability that a company’s computer infrastructure possesses. That leaves a lot of companies wanting to improve their system performance.

Automation Challenges

The benefits of automated operations are higher productivity, reliability, availability, increased performance, and reduced operating costs. Moving to lights-out operations yields a good return on investment.

The benefits of automated systems can be a powerful motive for increasing service to your end-users. However, it’s not an easy task. There are many pitfalls and many obstacles to overcome.

Cost

Generally speaking, the obstacles to operation automation fall into two categories: cost and people. Two of the most common benefits are availability and reliability. Both of these factors are convincing arguments to proceed with automation projects and normally supersede the need to cost-justify them.

The companies that implement automated systems early often see positive bottom-line results from their efforts. However, cost savings are not the primary reason to automate computer operations. The focus should be on improving service to the end-users. As the quality of this service improves with automation software, the costs associated with it also improve.

In-house automation solutions are often successful at first, but the scope is usually too narrow. Systems often fail because of the maintenance and enhancements required to maintain and expand the automation process. And, in-house automation solutions are expensive and typically are low priority in the IT department. This is why most internally developed automation efforts stall after achieving limited success. Many companies that have gone down this path eventually turn to off-the-shelf automation software.

People

Some personnel issues have surfaced as automation becomes reality. Many system operators view automation as a direct threat to their livelihood. Not having a strategy for handling staff concerns and managing staff participation is one of the easiest ways to fail at implementing automation.

No company wants to have a reputation for firing employees or to have an environment of low morale and trepidation. However, some companies are changing so quickly today that attrition alone is not a viable solution.

Conclusion

From management’s perspective, reliability, availability, productivity, performance, and cost reduction are powerful arguments for adopting an operations automation solution. However, achieving these benefits requires discipline to overcome the obstacles. As long as you understand, anticipate, and balance these obstacles against the potential benefits of automation, they should not interrupt your plans.

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