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Published on
Tue, 01/15/2019 - 00:55
It’s not exactly a secret: Regardless of size or industry, every organization stands to benefit from using automation technology to cut down on repetitive, time-consuming administrative tasks. More than simply speeding up a process or getting people to work faster, automating administrative tasks yields value by freeing up employees to focus on the aspects of their job that really matter and provide value.

Automation is wonderful. Except when it isn’t.

As covered in Behind the Hype of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), businesses can run into issues by rushing to reduce costs and improve productivity through automating processes without first evaluating their effectiveness and necessity. The benefits of automating repeatable, administrative tasks can also be lost if automation technology is too difficult to use. The result? Time that could be used performing more high-value activities winds up spent managing software.

Organizations need to be smart about where and how they put automation to work. They also need to employ smart automation technology that can be configured to meet even the most complex workflows but doesn’t require an inordinate amount of time to manage.

Who benefits from automation?

Where automation is put to work matters. Companies Are Overlooking a Primary Area for Growth and Efficiency: Their Managers draws from the results of a survey, conducted by business and technology consulting firm West Monroe Partners, in which 500 United States-based managers were asked to name hurdles they face in contributing to their organization’s growth, profitability, or cost reduction.

A majority of managers responding to the survey indicated that they were too overloaded with administrative tasks to give their teams sufficient levels of direction and feedback. With more than 40% indicating this contributes to feeling overwhelmed at work, the article highlights the importance of providing managers with tools and training that can streamline these processes and free up time for focusing on the effective management of both people and operations.

“While it’s reasonable to assume some administrative tasks are inherent in any role,” write the authors of the article, “many executives are turning to automation technology – whether that be systems or robotic process automation – to cut down on repetitive, mindless tasks.”

However, the article points out that simply putting automation technology in place doesn’t always solve for the problem of overburdened managers. “Despite [the fact] that 65 percent of companies have adopted some form of automation technology, 24 percent of managers at these companies still spend five or more hours on administrative tasks a day.”

A smart approach to automating administrative tasks

Organizations are more likely to benefit when the processes under consideration for automation are first scrutinized and, where necessary, refined. Choosing the right automation technology and how to bring users up to speed on its use also matters.

Be mindful about where automation is needed

There is little, if anything, to be gained from automating a bad process. A smart approach to the automation of administrative tasks begins with a close examination of existing processes to determine where changes are warranted.

Behind the Hype of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) puts it this way: “The question behind every RPA project is ‘How can we automate this process?’ This question, however, ignores more fundamental concerns. Is this process furthering our objectives? Is it even necessary? This desire to understand the current process and consider what it should become is central to effective process redesign.”

Choose the right automation technology and train users

Although an increasing number of organizations are putting automation technology to work and seeing positive returns, as Companies Are Overlooking a Primary Area for Growth and Efficiency: Their Managers points out, there is still a shortfall when it comes to teaching staff how to best utilize the tools.

“Though enterprises and employees are seeing positive returns from automation technology, companies can only maximize ROI by reimagining the people and processes, too,” write the authors. “For example, our survey found that 44 percent of managers have received no training on automation tools.”

Careful evaluation of the technology, along with ensuring that users receive training on the use of automation technology, is essential to success. “As automation tools become a mainstay in the workplace,” they continue, “companies will need to take the time to evaluate which tool is the right fit for their team and how they will onboard managers onto the platform.”

Round-robin assignments: Smart automation technology at work

Round-robin assignment functionality in Origami Risk is an example of a highly configurable, easy-to-use smart automation functionality. More specifically, round-robin assignments can be employed to help reduce the amount of time managers spend assigning tasks or items to team members based on workload.

While the functionality can be applied to virtually any process, automating assignment of claims, inspections, and audits are common uses. Round-robin assignment rules can be as simple or complex as necessary, taking into account location, claim type, financial amount, and dates, to name a few. For example, rules could be put into place to automatically distribute claims across a team of adjusters based on claim coverage and each adjuster’s current caseload.

To further streamline the assignment process, create automated emails and dashboard alerts to reduce the amount of time a manager might otherwise spend typing individual emails or contacting adjusters to make sure they’re aware of new assignments. Additionally, the system can be set up to trigger alerts when a task requires extra attention, allowing for automation to drive a process until interaction by a designated member of a team is needed.

Smarter automation with Origami Risk

Rather than automation just for the sake of automating, companies must scrutinize and refine the processes under consideration. This includes discussion about the roles—for example, managers—for whom it might be most beneficial.

Equally important is choosing technology with the right fit. This not only means a solution that is highly configurable and capable of handling even the most complex processes, but also one which is straightforward and fit for use on a day-in, day-out basis.

Automation shouldn’t add to the workload of managers or employees. Without the right approach and the right tools, automation can quickly become yet another time-consuming administrative task. A smarter approach can help. So can smarter tools.

See how Banner Health uses automation tools and online portals in Origami Risk to save time spent on administrative tasks and remove barriers for the healthcare organization’s physicians and staff.