"More hands make less work."
If we took a poll, most of us would vote in favor of an extended day—not necessarily a longer workday, but more time to get more things done (including relaxing, of course). One of the ways businesses get more done in less time is with more people. While this has been the natural progression of business, there is a more intelligent way of maximizing business proficiency—business process automation.
Business Process Automation in a Nutshell
Business process automation is the setting of various pre-designed processes into motion, each accomplishing various tasks without the need for human interaction. In the same way a Rube Goldberg device may start with one domino being knocked over and end with an entire breakfast ready on a plate, business process automation allows your business to design processes to be put in motion from a single action. These processes can range from a client opening a marketing email to an employee requesting time off for vacation. To present an example of this, we're going to walk through the possible business processes that can be automated from the latter.
Lucy Just Requested Time Off for Vacation. Now What?
Lucy is a floor manager at one of your bookstores. It's been quite a while since she's had a reasonable time to herself, so she put in a request for vacation a few months out. You're happy to give Lucy the time off for a vacation she rightly deserves. However, her vacation time means that, with her gone for a week-long hike through the Ozarks, you have to account for her absence as well as paid time off.
The Unautomated Way
If you were to process Lucy's vacation in an unautomated way, the process would create many steps for many different people. First, Lucy would turn in a request to her supervisor for the vacation. Her eligibility would be determined by the number of vacation hours she's already taken. This means reaching out to HR for this information. The HR director will also need to allocate paid-time-off hours to build into Lucy's next paycheck so she doesn't miss any pay periods. Once approved, there is the question of who will take up the slack of Lucy's absence and which duties of Lucy's need to be reassigned during this period. All communication (emails, phone calls, etc.) that are sent to Lucy will also need to be rerouted to a temporary replacement until she returns. When all of this is needing to be carried out manually, it can be quite stressful for a company.
The Automated Way
If your bookstore company is using a business process automation system, Lucy's absence is suddenly much less complicated. Lucy would likely be able to request time off for a vacation using an online payroll system. Once requested, a superior can approve or deny her request. Once approved, the pre-designed process automation can automatically alert HR, make changes to the work schedule, and reroute Lucy's messaging to an allocated temporary replacement. It's as easy as that. Lucy's supervisors barely need to lift a finger to accommodate her request. Now, she can head off on vacation, with the only worry being whether or not she packed the proper socks for hiking.
Far beyond vacation requests, business process automation can help any department design incredibly efficient processes. These automated processes, in a sense, act as an extension of your team to provide the feeling of more hours in a day.