How do you select the right automation software for your business?

So, you’ve decided to automate, congratulations! This is the first step towards changing your life and running your business. Yes, automation will literally change your life, for the better, of course. No more repetitive tasks that you don’t enjoy. Now you can focus on what really adds value to your business. The ultimate aim of automating is turning processes which take hours of your time into process which take minutes or seconds of your time, right?

But, how do you choose the right software for your business? Here’s a couple of things you need to consider before selecting the right fit.

 

What needs automating and why? 

It’s prudent to start by asking the following questions:

  • Where are your businesses choke points – what is talking up the most of your teams time?
  • What processes need performance enhancement – which processes need more accuracy and accountability?
  • What problems need to be solved – this will determine what functionality you require and it will also test if your processes are working optimally even before you automate them.
  • Which repetitive tasks need automating?

These questions may seem obvious but it’s a necessary exercise in order to understand exactly what functionality is required.

You can also ask your employees what they think, ask them what they need help with. User buy-in is a very important aspect to any change in processes.

 

Usability and integration 

You want to choose automation that’s easy and intuitive to use and ensure that it integrates smoothly with existing software applications you may be using. All systems need to work together to ensure that workflow is not disrupted or made more complicated.

 

Using artificial intelligence (AI) 

Be careful not to confuse Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Intelligent Process Automation (IPA). Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) is different to AI. IPA is software used for highly repetitive and predictable tasks and takes instructions from workflows set up by individuals using logical language.   It is rules-based, so IF THAT THEN THIS.

AI is how computer systems use data to imitate human intelligence and reasoning, making the system able to learn, predict and make recommendations.  This is done by using lots of data to train the system to recognise the pattern you are looking for.   For example, using lots of photos of cats that have been tagged as Cat to train the system to recognise cat pictures.  This is called a training set.  So AI is pattern-based, and you need the training data to set it up.    That’s a big commitment.

 

Customising your automation software 

A one-size-fits-all solution might not be adequate for your business, so it’s a good idea to select automation software that is highly customisable. What’s great about automation software providers is that most will allow you to trial the software solution before making a decision.

Some more things to think about before you sign on the dotted line:

  • Make sure that when you choose a solution provider that they are available to guide you and offer you the best possible customer service once implemented.
  • Make sure the software has an intuitive user interface and navigation, so that no special skills or training are necessary to run it.
  • Make sure you choose a partner that helps you consider issues like security and quality control.
  • A good solution provider will also guide you on how to scale your software solutions as your business grows.
  • Does the software allow remote access, so that you’re online anywhere, anytime?
  • Does the software offer cloud capabilities and remote cloud access?
  • Does the software offer a mobile capability?
  • How much money do you have to invest?

These are just a few of the many considerations before finding the right solution. AUTTO is here to help you discover the right fit for your business!

Contact us now to find out how to take your business to the next level.

The 5-Minute Guide to Business Automation.

A comprehensive guide to help your business improve productivity with process automation.

What is business automation?

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I build software that makes business automation easy. They smile, nod politely, and put me down as doing something with computers. They don’t know what I am talking about. And yet they should. Not because they should be interested in me (though that would be nice) but because automation is one of the three technological As transforming business today: automation, analytics and artificial Intelligence. There are many different names for business automation, namely: business process automation, digital automation, intelligent process automation, digital transformation or robotic process automation. As you can see it’s an ever-expanding list of jargon. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE.org) are writing the dictionary of automation (https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8070671). They call business automation ‘Software-based Intelligent Process Automation’. Their definition is a tortured piece of English that has clearly been written by a committee of engineers after too much coffee: ‘A preconfigured software instance that combines business rules, experience-based context determination logic, and decision criteria to initiate and execute multiple interrelated human and automated processes in a dynamic context. The goal is to complete the execution of a combination of processes, activities, and tasks in one or more unrelated software systems that deliver a result or service with minimal or no human intervention.’   businessman hand working with modern technology and digital layer effect as business strategy concept-1 It’s an accurate technical definition, but it is the kind of writing that makes people’s eyes glaze over. Wikipedia’s shot at the same job (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_process_automationis a lot more comprehensible. ‘Business process automation (BPA), also known as business automation or digital transformation, is the technology-enabled automation of complex business processes. It can streamline a business for simplicity, achieve digital transformation, increase service quality, improve service delivery or contain costs.’ However, I think we can be even simpler than that. My definition is: ‘Business automation is getting software to do some work so that humans don’t have to.’

Why automate?

Human beings are good at dealing with highly variable situations where subtle judgement, complex communication and understanding human emotions are critical. Conversely, people are poor at doing repetitive, rule-based tasks accurately. Human beings enjoy novelty, they find repetitive work boring. So work slows, errors creep in, and employees try to find a job doing something more interesting. Automation software loves the work that people hate. It is good at speed, repetition and accuracy. Implementing automation can reduce the time spent on tasks by 75% to 99% depending on the level of human involvement, and this has obvious business implications for reducing costs. It is perhaps less clear, but equally vital that it can also increase the tempo at which your business operates. As software completes tasks within seconds instead of hours or days then cues staff or another automation to begin the next task, then the overall pace at which your business responds increases. It is not only the amount of time that a member of your team spends doing a task (time spent) that can drop to near zero, but also that the ‘time elapsed’ between when a job was requested, and when it is completed drops rapidly. As your customers (both internal and external) are becoming more used to an ‘Amazon Prime’ business culture of immediate fulfilment, then the ability to deliver quickly is a competitive edge.   christopher-gower-m_HRfLhgABo-unsplash

How do I implement business automation in my business?

Automation software is now available for use in use all sorts of contexts. The business context for automation varies both by the volume of runs of a process and the type of technology that is currently being used to do the job. The possible software solutions for these contexts are different though, of course, the same company may encounter one or more of these situations. You need to select the right type of software for your business situation.

High volume, currently using enterprise software applications (bespoke ERP applications)

If you are a large business seeking to automate processes operating at a high volume of repetition and involving multiple existing computer systems, then you should be looking at robotic process automation software. Crucially this software is designed to enable automation without wholesale replacement of a business’ existing software systems. The leading providers in this category are Automation Anywhere, UI Path and Blue Prism. These are intricate pieces of software which have capabilities in API integration, desktop automation (software pretending to be a human on your existing systems) and increasingly AI. Typically implementations cost low hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars and involve a tech team or implementation partner.

Low to high volume, currently using standard desktop and cloud software (MS Office, email, CRMs)

It never ceases to amaze me the number of processes in sophisticated businesses that are still managed by people using spreadsheets as a database, MS Word for documents, email and then cut and paste between them. Importantly this is work that is not currently handled within existing enterprise software, though it may need to be triggered or provide information to it. Typically this kind of work has been done by people because the cost of automation is too high and the processes unique to a particular business. However, the use of cloud-based low-code (simple scripting) and no-code (drag and drop) automation platforms means that companies can build, operate and support an automated system with non-technical staff and budgets from a few thousand dollars a year. It has opened intelligent automation up to companies that could not previously afford this kind of tech. Typically the platforms in this space have a lot of flexibility and yet also allow control, audit trail and monitoring and allocating tasks to human beings. These systems will typically automate document production, calculations, task allocation, approvals, data transformation, integrations and updating records. It is also worth distinguishing this kind of automation software from project and business process management platforms like Asana and Monday.com. These help you manage the allocation of work to employees but don’t automate the work itself.  Separately, there are many cloud-based, software platforms focusing on automating marketing (Hubspot is the leader) and accounting (Receipt Bank, for example).   Two colleages discussing ideas using a tablet computer

Low to medium volume, currently using no software or standard cloud software (Gsuite, online CRMs)

The entry point to automation when you have very low or no budget is software like Zapier and IFTTT (short for If That Then This). These online packages act as integrators linking many different cloud-based software services together – a Google form triggers the creation of a CRM entry and the sending of an email, for example.   Boot-strapping entrepreneurs and small businesses have created remarkably inventive combinations of applications that can automate whole products. However, the interface, control, data governance and security issues are much trickier to manage, so it is less suitable as a business matures and grows.

Automation is accessible

Just over ten years after the automation revolution began, automation is now available to businesses of all sizes and all technical abilities. Now is the time to begin looking at how you can start the digitisation and automation of your business operations.
  1. Pick the scope of the automation project – look for your most obvious pain point
  2. Select the right context from the list above
  3. Examine your vendor choices
  4. Consider PoC or trial

Transforming Your SME With Automation.

Helping enterprises keep up!

Leveraging automation to lower operational costs, reduce delays and errors, improve employee engagement, and boost customer satisfaction can be a game-changer for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Optimising your workforce increases profits

A study conducted by Harvard Business review found that 71 per cent of managers feel employee engagement is one of the most important factors in overall organisational success. When a company automates repetitive and time-consuming tasks, employees can spend less time on basic administrative tasks and more time on strategic tasks. This encourages employees to be more productive and engaged, directly linking to business success and increased profits.

Adapting to seasonal ebbs and flows in business

One way that automation can help businesses grow is to help manage the seasonal spikes and troughs that can be especially challenging for SMEs. In addition to allowing staff the time to engage in tasks that help the business grow, automating routine tasks can lessen the need to hire additional staff during busy times, only to let them go when business slows down.

Enhancing management

Automating repetitive management and operational tasks can give managers the time to inspire, lead, and develop a strategic vision for achieving sustainability in your business. As with all staff, more fulfilled managers are more likely to be better leaders and role models.

Minimising human error and ensuring compliance

When a system for a process is set up once, then automated, the opportunity for human error is greatly reduced. This can greatly improve accuracy of your systems and data.

Improving customer support

According to a 2018 survey by Hubspot research, 80% of customers expect a response within 24 hours while 60% expect it to come within 10 minutes or less. By automating the processes needed to provide this service, SMEs can keep up, or even surpass their customers’ expectations.

Keep it simple

Even though SMEs do not have the resources of large corporations, that does not mean that they can’t afford automation. In fact, it generally means the opposite, that they can’t afford not to automate. The key, though, is to keep it simple.

Streamline your goals

Before setting up any automated system, it’s helpful to conduct an audit of the processes that would lend themselves to automation. Look at the tasks staff members spend the most time on. When you find a task that has elements that are repeated frequently, you have found an opportunity for automation.

For example, perhaps your staff is spending a lot of time manually sending out the same document. This task will have several elements that can be automated, freeing employees to spend time on the tasks that cannot be automated.

Ease of use breeds success

Business automation doesn’t mean that everything in your business will be automated. You can start off as small as you’d like, trying out different automation practices and seeing what works for you. Choose a system that is intuitive and easy to learn, for example, AUTTO’s automation workflows can be built by simply dragging and dropping actions into one process that can have as few, or as many steps as you need.

Why automation is essential for the future of SMEs

From SME Technology Guide

You don’t have to look far to see an example of a company taking advantage of advanced technology within their business today. 

AUTTO founder, Ian Gosling looks at why automation is essential for the future of SMEs despite research suggesting that adoption rates among large enterprises are up to 10 times higher than in small businesses.  

 

Ian explainins how even the smallest of businesses can harness automation for better and why this is important as SMEs are operating in an increasingly challenging business environment, competing against larger players with bigger budgets and higher head-counts in turbulent economic times. 

Read the full article written by AUTTO founder Ian Gosling in the latest issue of SME Technology Guide

A low-risk approach to Automation.

Start small, iterate and build upwards in complexity.

Innovation can be risky, especially when the stakes are high. So it’s not surprising that businesses, especially those in risk-averse industries, such as finance and law, are often slow to digitise tasks that have traditionally been completed by humans. Finance and law are heavily regulated, adding an additional hurdle.

Resistance to innovation doesn’t only apply to risk-averse industries. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), don’t often have the time nor the capital to invest in something that may, or may not work.

 

Will adopting new technology be worth the cost?

Change can carry high stakes. It is often difficult to find solutions that actually live up to their claims, a reality that is sometimes not apparent until a technology has been implemented, sometimes at significant cost. Add issues of compatibility, client privacy and inability to calculate return-on-investment (ROI) for cutting edge solutions and it’s no wonder that SMEs are weary of new technology.

The pressure to stay competitive can override resistance to change. For example, standardising processes and procedures is one way to streamline service and increase efficiency. This solution may streamline processes but it still requires a high level of staff time, the most expensive asset of any business.

It’s generally accepted that service-oriented businesses need to innovate to stay competitive, but how do you do this within a risk-averse landscape?

 

Reduce the risk of innovation by taking incremental steps

Digital transformation is hailed as the savior of industry, integrating cutting edge, frequently changing technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) into a new world of business practices. This often comes with a high price tag and high risk of disruption.

What if you don’t need transformation? What if your challenges could be addressed with a few incremental steps that don’t disrupt your business but make a big difference? Technology that allows you to make small changes is vital to this journey.

 

What can be automated?

The first step of any change, large or small, is to evaluate what part of your processes can be automated. Even the most personalised service will have repetitive elements or elements in common with other services you provide. That’s a prime spot for automation.

When you find this sweet spot, test it. Your test may run smoothly, it may run into a few hurdles  or it may reveal something else you need to. This is part of innovation and a good argument for starting small.

 

Iterate rapidly

When your test automation works, repeat it in the same place and find other processes this automation will work in. Replicating these simple business operations automations, or using them as a base for more complex action is a quick and easy way to integrate automation into nearly every business process. It’s a low-risk way to achieve quick wins that can improve productivity and customer service, boosting staff motivation as well as the appeal of the company to prospective customers and employees alike.

 

No code cloud-based service delivers big change with little disruption

At AUTTO, we have built the technology to make it quick and easy to automate repetitive tasks. Our no-code visual editor makes it easy to create small changes that have a big impact with drag and drop workflows.

We remove the cost of technology development with our cloud-based service so you can focus on providing personalised service while routine tasks are taken care of. Automate as little, or as much as you feel comfortable with while enjoying the benefits of transformation with little of the cost and risk.

Progressive Companies Recognized by 360Quadrants in the Legal AI Software Start-ups Quadrant

CISION 

CHICAGO, Aug. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Corporate legal departments and law firms around the world have begun using legal AI technology to streamline their processes. Among other functions, AI-powered solutions gather and analyze legal information and predict future outcomes. Some other applications of Legal AI software include e-discovery, legal research, document review, due diligence, Intellectual Property (IP) management, compliance, case prediction, contract lifecycle management, divorce automation, e-billing, and knowledge management.

360Quadrants, the most granular comparison platform, has released a startup quadrant on Legal AI Software to help businesses make quicker and more informed decisions. This quadrant has placed PracticeLeague Legaltech, Luminance Technologies and Ross Intelligence in the progressive company space. 360Quadrants are generated post analysis of the product portfolios and business strategies of all companies in a particular space. Quadrants are updated every three months based on market and regional analyses and developments in the Legal AI Software segment.

Legal AI Software Quadrant Highlights

360Quadrants covers 25 startup companies in the Legal AI Software space and places them in a quadrant based on their quality, reliability, and business outcome. 22 of these companies are categorized as Progressive Companies, Responsive Companies, Dynamic Companies, and Starting Blocks.

360Quadrants recognizes PracticeLeague, Luminance Technologies, Leverton and Ross Intelligence as Progressive Companies; Lawpavilion as a Responsive Company; LegalRobot, Pensieve and Autto as Starting Blocks; and BrightFlag and Nalandar Technology as Dynamic Companies. The 360Quadrants platform provides the most granular comparisons of Legal AI Software startup vendors.

View full article here

 

UK startup Autto raises $1m funding

From UK Tech News.

London-based Autto, a simplified automation provider, has announced that it has raised $1m in funding in its second significant round since the company launched in February 2018.

The finance has been raised from existing angel investors, a UK government grant, and new investment from Tangible, a corporate legal platform in the US.

Autto offers simplified automation capabilities via its SaaS-based platform. Organisations use Autto to create workflows to automate routine tasks, enabling staff to spend more time doing the jobs that they love. It is targeted at professional sector organisations who are keen to embrace emerging technologies but struggle with the cost and complexity of current high-end solutions.

New investment from Tangible, and private investment from Tangible’s founders was secured after the company trialled Autto’s solution on existing Fortune 500 clients with impressive results. Using Autto, Tangible will be building out workflows in core areas and will make them available via self-service or customised service, removing the need for customers to build their own workflows and increasing the adoption rate.

CEO and co-founder Ian Gosling said: “This funding announcement is a huge milestone in Autto’s journey. It signifies a growing appetite for our solution and an affirmation of the need for simple-to-implement technologies in the workplace.

Automation provider Autto has raised $1m in funding through a combination of UK government grant funds, angel investment and participation from UK legal platform Tangible.

The funding will be used to evolve the London firm’s SaaS platform, which is designed to deliver simple automation.

The funds will also fuel further research, in partnership with the University of Exeter, into the adoption of ‘lawtech’.

Autto’s technology is designed to automate routine tasks, enabling staff, and is targeted at professional sector organisations keen to embrace emerging technologies.

Ian Gosling, CEO and co-founder of Autto said, “This funding announcement is a huge milestone in Autto’s journey. It signifies a growing appetite for our solution and an affirmation of the need for simple-to-implement technologies in the workplace.

“We have great ambitions for the company and this funding will help us to expand our capabilities and help our customers on their automation journeys.”

Robert Reynolds, Founder & CEO at Tangible added: “Autto provides a simple yet effective solution to the needs of our internal and external clients.”

Co-founders Ian Gosling, Max Cole and Krisztián Kerék have sustained interest from angel investors led by serial technology angel, Sean Phelan, demonstrating a continued confidence in the success of Autto.

New investment from Tangible was secured after the company trialled Autto’s solution on existing Fortune 500 clients.

“We’ve seen first-hand the benefits derived from the creation of its workflows, and we wanted to play a part in its future development.”

“Autto provides organisations with a dynamic platform to automate the necessary to enable the exceptional. To drive adoption, Tangible will be building out a library of workflows (what we call Catalysts) and launching them into the market in the coming months in partnership with Autto.

“We are excited about the possibilities of working with Autto to help drive the next stage of its journey.”

View full article here

 

Why automation is essential for the future of SMEs

From SME Technology Guide

We have been featured in the latest issue of the SME Technology Guide. Take a look below for an overview of what Ian Gosling covers in this informative article.

You don’t have to look far to see an example of a company taking advantage of advanced technology within their business today.

AUTTO founder, Ian Gosling looks at why automation is essential for the future of SMEs despite research suggesting that adoption rates among large enterprises are up to 10 times higher than in small businesses.  

 

Ian explainins how even the smallest of businesses can harness automation for better and why this is important as SMEs are operating in an increasingly challenging business environment, competing against larger players with bigger budgets and higher head-counts in turbulent economic times. 

Read the full article written by AUTTO founder Ian Gosling in the latest issue of SME Technology Guide

How UK SMEs are using technology to boost their business

From SME Technology Guide
Small Business Saturday is part of a year-long campaign highlighting SMEs and encouraging consumers to support small businesses in their communities.

AUTTO founder Ian Gosling gives some insight to readers of SME Technology Guide on how small businesses can link the benefits of Small Business Saturday with technology to gain a competitive edge.

“While the boost to businesses from Small Business Saturday is to be welcomed, it does have the side effect of putting systems under strain. Technology can help here, with tools, like automation, helping companies automate routine processes, rather than necessarily having to increase headcount. If such tools haven’t been implemented yet, it should certainly be considered a priority for 2020.”

Read the full article here:

Small Business Saturday: how UK SMEs are using technology to boost every aspect of their business.

Adapting to a new world.

It’s no surprise that the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) annual survey of law firms for 2019 focused on how the digital revolution continues to disrupt professional services. New technology, such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT), is being developed every day by forward-thinking enterprises.

The evolution of technology within cutting edge organisations has a knock-on effect for traditionally conservative organisations, such as law firms, who also need to evolve. Many larger firms are embracing lawtech to drive productivity and innovation, improve efficiency and control cost. According to PWC, eight out of the top ten firms identified technology as the key challenge to growth in the next two to three years. However, barriers to adoption are still widespread in the legal industry.

Complexity, scale and cost emerge as key barriers with security concerns topping the list. . However, PWC tells us it’s rare for senior management to take part in cyber risk and crisis management exercises. According to the PWC survey, many law firms just opt out of the advanced technology that’s becoming more common in sectors such as telecom and financial services.

Firms are right to be nervous about cybersecurity.   A whopping 100% of the top 100 law firms surveyed by PWC suffered a cybersecurity incident in 2019.  And according to Forrester: “In 2020, ransomware incidents will grow as attackers learn that holding data hostage is a quick path to monetisation.” As aggregators of sensitive client data,, law firms are vulnerable to these attacks and are rightly concerned about cybersecurity.

However,  avoiding high tech adoption and cloud-based services does not itself protect client data. The key – not always easy – is to strike a balance between the digital innovation that clients and employees expect and demand, with the cybersecurity necessary from a business, regulatory and ethical perspective. It is obviously vital for law firms to protect their own business and their clients from the loss of personal or sensitive information, not to mention  damage to reputation. But as firms face pressure for increased efficiency, productivity and growth, as well as better outcomes for clients delivered innovatively, law firms who do not embrace technological innovation risk being left behind.

One way to balance the risks and rewards is to avoid the temptations of disruption.  Disruption is a buzzword of the moment and sometimes seems to be presented as an end in itself. It is easily forgotten that true disruption involves challenging existing working models and the networks which support them. That may not be desirable, particularly where risk mitigation is important.  So, start small, trial with dummy data, and iterate and until you feel confident that systems are secure and workable from all angles

Risk can also be mitigated by ensuring the obvious safeguards are in place: make sure that your suppliers are properly certified, have cybersecurity plans and processes in place which they can describe to you. By taking these steps the benefits of  technology start to become available , saving time, and money, increasing productivity while increasing opportunities to spend more time on the things requiring personal  attention and expertise.

NEW WEBINAR!

An Intro To AUTTO

How to Automate a Complex Process without Writing a Line of Code

  • Date: 31 March 2022
  • Time 14:00 BST
  • Host: Ian Gosling, Founder of AUTTO

Hi there,

AUTTO is a no-codebusiness and document automation platform. No-code means you can build tailor-made automated processes without having to be a developer.

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