How to balance manual work and automation
Automation has always existed as a desirable goal for mankind, whether in the personal life or in business. Of course, our discussion today is limited to automation in business. And, before we go further, it must be acknowledged that business volumes are coming right back to the levels they were at, before Covid-19 threw a wet rag on the world, and even exceeding them. Transactions are increasing, as are customer contacts with host companies. So, the discussion on automation is relevant all over again.
With relationships developed over many years with technology companies, oWorkers has worked itself into a position where it can access the latest automation technologies for client projects, be it invoice processing
, comment moderation on social media or creating data sets for Artificial Intelligence (AI) models.
Why companies automate
It is seen as the attainment of man’s manifest destiny of doing more with less. A company, that is set up for achieving certain goals, is designed to take steps only for the purpose of attainment of those goals, through the decision-making of the humans who run it.
And what better way to do it than automate?
Automation helps overcome human physical limitations
Human beings have physical limitations. They get tired. They need food and water and emotional and mental succor to function at reasonable levels. Machines don’t. They can keep running as long as there is processing to be done and input material available.
There are many activities that require human intelligence to function accurately and efficiently. oWorkers is equipped to stretch its human resources by hiring additional people at short notice so that such constraints can be overcome. Hiring 100 people with a notice of 48 hours has helped many of their clients overcome unexpected volume spikes.
Automated solutions are undemanding
Human beings think, compare themselves with others, and have aspirations and expectations like rewards, compensation and recognition. Machines don’t. They will keep serving the needs of the company as long as they are able to, and are not superseded by a more advanced version.
oWorkers has a robust human resources management practice in place to manage its employees. It has chosen to work with employed resources and not freelancers and contractors as is preferred by some of its competitors. Employment provides commitment and continuity and it is able to deliver complex solutions with the help of a trained manpower that is secure in the knowledge that they will grow as long as they perform.
Automation delivers consistency and predictability
Human beings can have good and bad days. They can be inconsistent. They can have a fight at home before they come to work. A loved one might be unwell. All these events impact performance, making it unpredictable. Machines do not have such challenges. When set up to do something, they will keep doing it, again and again, without getting bored, without burnout.
With a Quality practice recognized in the industry, oWorkers delivers over 99% accuracy on client projects, across a variety of processes, systems and measurement systems. Its Quality Analysts (QAs) work with the delivery teams to ensure errors are eliminated before they are able to impact clients. As the eyes and ears of the management, they ensure that the leaders are available to jump in when required.
Automation leads to economies
It is economical. With humans, the unit cost of production rarely changes. When volumes increase, more people are required who, again, cost almost the same as the earlier ones.
With automation, the fixed cost is incurred once. Thereafter, by incurring only the variable cost, such as that of electricity for running the equipment, production can be increased. Thus, the greater the production, the lower the per unit cost.
As an efficient provider, oWorkers has economies that get passed onto clients through its pricing mechanism. As an example, oWorkers attracts a steady stream of walk-in talent that allows it to save money on advertising for talent. Many clients note savings, some up to 80%, of their costs before outsourcing to oWorkers.
Automation can improve service
Counter intuitively, automation might actually improve customer service. It is often believed that it is difficult to handle customers with automated solutions. However, manual customer servicing also has drawbacks such as capacity constraint and variability in quality from one person to another. There are examples of implementation of automated customer handling systems that have delivered higher customer satisfaction scores than manual ones.
They are consistent. In most cases, there is no wait time.
In all the three delivery locations oWorkers operates from, all client projects have the option of 24×7 delivery if required.
How to execute automation
The devil, as they say, is always in the detail. Put another way, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Though theoretically a good idea for all the reasons discussed above, it still has to be implemented.
Experts say that the process of automation has to be handled with care. A mistake that many companies make is trying to do multiple things together. For instance, if they are planning to outsource a part of their transaction processing, they might be tempted to change their processes, like automating them, while the transition to a partner is happening.
This can often result in confusion and a dilution of responsibilities. It is best to proceed one step at a time. After all, the company expects to be in the game for the long haul.
In addition, it is also advisable to automate starting with simple processes, rather than the more complex ones. As the company gains experience in automation, it will be better placed to handle automation projects of greater complexity.
The objective should be, as was pointed out in the beginning of this article, to enable the company to reach its goals. If automation serves that purpose, then the company should go for it. If manual processes are a better way for the company to achieve its goal, then so be it.
Most companies find that there is a combination of automation and manual processes that is required for best results. Automation is not a goal in itself. It should be embraced if it leads the company to its goals in a better way. Otherwise, there is no need for it.
Operating out of secure facilities for security of client data, oWorkers is ISO (27001 :2013 & 9001:2015) certified as well as GDPR compliant. It is reassuring for clients to implement automation solutions in such an environment, supported by a management team that has several decades of hands-on experience in the industry.