Digital Process Automation vs Manual

How’s your day going? Chasing down inaccurate order quantities? Still waiting for approvals? Did you find that misplaced invoice? Your manual processes can work. But are they efficient? Mistakes in manual data entry can lead to huge financial losses. Digital process automation vs manual. It’s a no brainer. It’s time to automate…

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Cost of doing nothing framework. Example of invoice processing. Includes error management, FTW salaries, SLA hits.

The cost of doing nothing framework – Invoice processing example.
Total AP team expense/Total number of invoices processed = cost per invoice.

Businesses have to constantly modify their operations to remain relevant. Implementing new technology across multiple teams, which when done right, helps create frictionless processes and workflows

Now would be a good time to check out the Best Document Workflow Software & Guide.

The digital process automation vs manual debate is ongoing. Each has its benefits. But, if you’re looking for your business to tackle fluctuations in demand. To drive employee and customer satisfaction. To grow. Automation has to be on your roadmap.

Hey! I get it’s a big decision. My post walks you through the what, why, the challenges and solutions, questions to ask vendors, how to implement an automation solution, and more. 

Ready to consider?

Manual processes vs automated processes

It’s time to be brutally honest…

Manual processes are slow and expensive. They’re riddled with fat finger episodes that can lead to financial losses and a damaged reputation. Manual processes involve people performing tasks that a machine could do more efficiently and accurately. Manual processes increase employee churn.

Automated processes are fast and accurate. No sleep needed. No boredom. No mistakes.

Manual process definition

Successful businesses are built on efficient workflows and processes. Whether they’re purchase order workflows or sales processes, they keep a company operational.

While manual processes bring the same results as automated processes, they’re slow and error prone. Paperwork is passed around the team for verification, approval, etc. If errors are found, the process has to be repeated. A single paper document can potentially be presented to multiple team members, multiple times.

Yes, for a small business with minimal paperwork, a manual process works fine. But, if you want your processes to be scalable and grow with your business, automation is the only option.

Check out our Guide To Sales Order Automation that explains how to improve efficiency and accuracy in your sales processes.

Digital process automation definition

Digital process automation cuts out the noise. The endless round of passing paperwork from one person to another, for validation, approval, corrections, etc.

With errors minimized, the quality is consistent. With steps automated, the process is efficient and fast.

Plus, if your processes are automated, the audit trail is easy to track. And with all documents digitized in a centralized location, your entire team has access now and in the future.

According to a recent Salesforce survey, 90% of workers surveyed said automation increased their productivity. 85% claimed an increase in collaboration between teams. While 90% said they trusted automation solutions to increase productivity without errors. Helping faster decision making.

What is digital process automation?

Digital process automation – DPA – creates a tech stack. A perfect combination of humans and machines, with the goal to improve and digitize all business processes. To forge an engaging and efficient digital experience for customers and the workforce.

Back-end integrations, collaboration tools, and cloud-native architecture, along with AI and machine learning are the technologies used by businesses to automate their processes. To eliminate tedious and unnecessary parts of existing processes and workflows.

If you’re considering automation, check out our How To Do Workflow Process Mapping blog post.

Challenges of manual document processes

Manual document processes are tasks performed by a human. Tasks that include data entry, writing and sending emails, filing paperwork, asking for approvals, and a whole lot more.

Considering these are tasks critical to business operations, it’s astonishing that the process method is still manual. A method that’s inefficient and error prone. With the potential to damage your bottom line.

Check out the challenges of sticking with a manual process…  

Time-consuming

A report from Zapier states that 44% of SMB employees say they’re not highly efficient or productive in their work, with 94% saying they perform repetitive, time-consuming tasks in their role.

Manual processes involve your team spending hours on laborious and repetitive tasks. Their productivity level is reduced and job satisfaction drops to zero

The same report says that 66% of SMB employees say that using automation lets them focus on more creative tasks and projects. With 1 in 5 saying automation has increased the accuracy of their work.

No visibility

It’s difficult to monitor manual processes. Zero administrative visibility and a fragmented workflow means you don’t see a full audit trail. This disconnect reduces accurate real-time insights and the possibility of forecasting.

Increased risk

Human beings experience fat finger episodes. These unintentional errors will leave your business vulnerable to risk and/or financial losses.

500 entered as 5000. Incorrect inventory counts. Errors that can lead to lawsuits, late payment penalties, missed early payment bonuses. And eventually, dissatisfied customers and angry vendors.

No scalability

Manual workflows aren’t flexible, so during busy seasons when demand increases, you’ll have to bring in more people and train them, or outsource. This will take time and increase your labor costs.

If your business grows and paperwork inevitably increases, manual processes won’t be able to scale with your company’s growth. Productivity will reduce.

Why digital automation processes are better

It’s a long list

Improved data accuracy

Manual data entry is always going to involve human error. Whether we’re tired, bored, distracted, we’re only human. 

Check out our P2P Automation Drives More Value From Every Transaction blog post for more details.

These errors, that may seem small, can impact a business hard. Order quantities wrong. Delivering products to the wrong address. The penalties pile up. Automating your document processing will minimize human error significantly.

We’ve added a new GPT-4 extension to our IDP platform. With zero coding required, you can now adapt our platform to your specific business requirements.

Data transparency

Visible audit trails and accurate data mean you can identify insights quickly to drive efficient decision making. This promotes accountability and data security, while enabling your business to show compliance with regulatory bodies.

Increased productivity

Digital automation processes are faster and more accurate. An increase in productivity means shorter turnaround times, happier customers, and increased revenue.

Reduced operational costs

With increased productivity comes improved efficiencies and reduced operational costs. Hiring more employees to cover spikes in demand will be a thing of the past. Wave goodbye to manual data entry errors resulting in late delivery penalties.

Increased innovation

The next three digital automation process benefits go hand in hand in hand.

Because your employees are no longer tied up with manual tasks, they’re able to focus on more innovative and creative projects for your business.

Increased employee satisfaction

Punching keys is a mind-numbingly boring task. Keep your processes manual, and you can expect an increase in employee churn.

Introducing automated processes not only frees up your people for more interesting roles, they can also benefit from training to work new kit, and collaborate with other teams in your organization to improve workflows.

Attracting new talent

It’s a case of keeping up with the Joneses.

We live in a digital age. Your competitors are automating. Everybody is automating. To appeal to new hires, your business has to be a pioneer of new tech.

Collaboration across the board

By integrating systems across teams in your organization it makes it easier for your employees to work together on process workflows. Your IT team can collaborate with your sales team, for instance. Common processes across the board ensure your business remains agile.

Flexibility & scalability

The COVID-19 pandemic drove the shift toward a more digital world. Businesses were forced to be flexible and quickly adapt their roadmaps and adopt advanced technologies to automate manual tasks.

Now, when we’re experiencing some semblance of normality, organizations need to be able to react immediately to challenges like changing consumer preferences and needs.

Digital process automation software also brings flexibility with regard to your company’s growth. Able to scale up when you experience seasonal spikes in demand at no additional cost.

Increased compliance and data security

Digital automation secures your data. No more lost documents, security breaches, or poor compliance. You’ll be able to identify suspicious activity and reduce the risk of fraud. Real-time alerts mean your company can address security threats immediately.

Retain internal business process knowledge

Sam left the company last week, and now we don’t know how this process works.

A digital workflow automation solution ensures that critical business process knowledge is not lost when a team member leaves your company.

Improved customer experience

Your business can provide an awesome customer experience if you streamline your processes with digital automation. A personalized service, faster response to support requests, punctual deliveries. For example, a bank can automate the creation of a new account process. Customer support could use chatbots as a first step.

Give your managers a break

Gartner predicts that 69% of managerial tasks will be automated by 2024. 

Managers bogged down with manual approval processes is not a good use of their time. Employing automated approval workflows frees up managers so they can spend more time on strategic business operations. 

An automated process also gives them full visibility of the processes they’re required to manage.

Process automation blockers & solutions

We live in a technology-driven world in which businesses that fail to adapt to new demands risk falling behind their competitors. Despite the obvious benefits of digital process automation, there are organizations reluctant to take the leap. 

Blocker | If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

I get it. Your current manual workflow is working. It’s a bit clunky and slow to meet your targets. Yes, there are errors. But, your team can correct them. If it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? 

Talking of your team, I’m guessing they’re reluctant to use new technologies. Scared they’ll be out of a job and replaced by a robot, or lacking the skills needed to work with the tech.

Solution | Change management

With the disruptive changes occurring in the market and across industries, there’s no way your business can ignore automation forever. Your competitors certainly won’t.

Implement a change management strategy to address the reluctance to change. Ensure it’s clearly communicated. Get your team onboard and empower them with new skills. It’ll motivate and inspire them to perform more productively and creatively.

Blocker | It’s too expensive

I’m not going to lie. Introducing any new tech is going to be costly. Businesses considering automating their processes and workflows should scrutinize the costs. But, they mustn’t ignore the cost of the alternative… doing nothing.

Solution | Stagger implementation

You don’t have to automate every process in your business at the same time. If you do a phased DPA implementation, you can spread the cost over time while proving the value of automation.

When drawing up your business case for proposed improvements to operations, include the cost of missed opportunities. The cost of employee churn. The penalties and fines due to late deliveries or payments.

Rossum ROI calculator - screenshot of web page. Calculate your cost savings.

Give our ROI Calculator a spin to see how much you could save.

Blocker | Our IT team is already overwhelmed

Is your IT team backed up trying to maintain your current documenting processes? Are you sure you have the best solution? 

If it takes an age to onboard new team members and isn’t up and running in a matter of days, it’s time to look for a better solution. 

Solution | Training

It’s vital that when you switch from manual to automated process it’s a smooth transition. Don’t leave your team in the dark. Demonstrate how their role will be improved with the introduction of automation tools, and provide them with all the knowledge and skills they need to manage the new technology. 

Rossum’s template free, low code, document-agnostic platform is designed to be managed by business users, not your IT team.

Blocker | What about data privacy?

Data privacy is a biggie. No question. The regulations and compliance that businesses have to follow are many. Understandably, this can put off some organizations who are contemplating implementing digital business process automation.

Solution | Adherence to data privacy regulations

Choosing what to automate and working with a compliant DPA solution is essential. Working with an intelligent process automation vendor will ensure you comply.

How to implement digital process automation

Have I convinced you automation is the way to go? If so, follow the steps below to implement digital process automation in your company…

Define processes to automate

Choose processes that will improve the life of your employees and your customers. 

Talk with your customer support team and identify the most common complaints. Late payments? Orders incomplete or not delivered?

Ask your employees which processes are slowing them down. Manual processes that could be automated to reduce repetitive tasks and errors.

The role of digital process automation in your company is to increase employee satisfaction and improve the customer experience.

Map your workflows

Having chosen a process to improve with automation, you need mapping. 

Process mapping will help you see how your business processes are performed, so you can find any sticking points or irrelevant steps. Include people, tasks, approval authorizations, actions, documents, etc.

Next, remove insignificant steps and repetitive tasks. such as manual data entry or matching invoices with purchase orders. Anything that can be automated.

Our How to do Workflow Process Mapping post will help.

Determine tasks to be automated

Your process map will help you determine which tasks and workflows can be automated.

While you’ll find that a lot of tasks can be completed with automation software, there will be some that still need a human in the loop. 

The following are the kind of tasks that can be automated…

  • Repetitive – the same thing over and over again
  • Recurring – to be finished according to a regular schedule
  • Frequent – to be completed multiple times in an hour/day/week
  • Simple – doesn’t require decision making or problem solving
  • Conditional – led by an event or change in status
  • Inevitable – element that always occurs in the process
  • Collaborative – requires action from multiple people

The most commonly automated tasks include…

  • Data entry – 38%
  • Document creation & organization – 32%
  • Lead management – 30%
  • Inventory management – 27%

Example of accounting automation.

Define goals and KPIs

Set goals and KPIs so you can set your priorities and measure the success of implementing digital process automation in your organization.

Goals could include…

  • Reducing manual tasks
  • Making processes more predictable and accurate
  • Cost reductions
  • Building a collaborative tech stack
  • Creating a frictionless customer experience

Choose the best digital process automation software

If you choose wisely, your digital process automation solution will transform your business processes and workflows. For example, low-code workflow automation software like Rossum makes it easy to get started and see immediate improvements.

Digital process automation checklist…

  • Does it meet your business requirements?
  • Is it cost effective?
  • Does it have an intuitive UI?
  • Is it scalable?
  • Does it provide real-time analytics?
  • Does it comply with security measures?
  • Is it compatible with your current tech stack?
  • What integrations does it provide?
  • What technologies does the IDP platform employ?

Rossum’s AI document processing solution uses machine learning, computer vision, robotic process automation (RPA), and AI OCR software to give our customers industry-leading accuracy.

Track results

Your long term goal is to optimize your core business processes and workflows. Automating all that you can. While you’ll see some immediate benefits of DPA tools – smiling employees, increased productivity – don’t sit back and think you’re done.

Measure your DPA results against your goals and KPIs, and make improvements where necessary. For example, while you’ve successfully automated one process in your workflow, you may have created a sticking point further along.

Takeaway

Making the switch from manual processes to automated processes is a game changer. You’ll see increased productivity, reduced human error, improved customer experience, driven employees and reduced churn.

But, the cost of doing nothing will not only be financial. Your team will suffer, as will your customers. Your business will become irrelevant. Your competitors will leave you standing. It’ll all be over.

Digital process automation FAQs

What is digital process automation?

Digital process automation combines people, applications, devices, and information across a business to create an agile and digital organization. DPA improves and streamlines processes and workflows, enabling your business to save time, reduce manual data entry errors, and increase productivity.

What is an example of digital process automation?

Processes that can be automated include invoicing, accounting reconciliation, sales orders, data entry, payroll, customs clearance, customer onboarding, and more.

What is RPA and DPA?

Robotic process automation – RPA – eliminates the need for humans to perform repetitive tasks, by imitating back-office tasks such as data extraction. Digital process automation – DPA – automates processes and improves workflows.

What is the difference between BPM and DPA?

Business process management – BPM – focuses on the management and optimization of all the processes in an organization. Digital process automation – DPA – automates said business processes.

Free eBook: Cost of doing nothing | Zero in on accounting automation

Time to take the plunge.

Our free eBook – Cost of doing nothing | Zero in on accounting automation – takes a deep dive into the true cost of doing nothing. Of persevering with manual document processing. It highlights the benefits of automation, questions to ask an IDP vendor in your RFP, and the impact of doing nothing. While our eBook concentrates on automating the end-to-end process of accounts payable, it is relevant across industries. Our goal is to help you devise an action plan for your business’ prospective automation strategy.

It's time to make the switch from manual processes to automated processes.

Let us show you how we can increase your productivity, reduce human error, improve the customer experience, and reduce churn.