Information workers spend a significant amount of time on manual, repetitive work. More than 40% of respondents to a recent survey said they spend at least a quarter of their work week on manual, repetitive tasks. And nearly 60% of information workers estimated they’d save at least six hours each week if these aspects of their jobs were automated.
Those same information workers also see the potential benefits of automation. Sixty-nine percent think automation will reduce time wasted on repetitive work, and 66% say automation will help eliminate human error. Over 75% of respondents say automation will free up time for more interesting, valuable assignments — work they are eager to tackle.
Where to Start With Business Automation
Businesses need a strategic plan to implement automation that replaces manual, repetitive tasks and unlocks time for more valuable, creative work. But where to start? Rather than waiting for advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to solve for this, organizations can take action now in 3 distinct areas: data collection, approvals processes, and update requests.
1. Automate Data Collection to Eliminate Error
When asked which tasks they would like to see automated, 55% of workers said data collection, 52% said collecting and tracking data, and 51% said data entry or filling out forms. (Survey participants could select multiple tasks.)
Automating data collection not only saves time for information workers, but also helps eliminate the human error rampant in manual data collection and data entry, and minimize risk when managing information at scale.
Smartsheet forms provide information workers a method to collect error-free, consistent, and organized data from anyone via desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. Workers can quickly and easily create and customize forms using a simple yet powerful form builder.
Any captured data is then saved to Smartsheet in a structured and inherently shareable format, meaning employees can easily review and analyze information and take immediate action.
2. Automate Approvals to Accelerate Execution
Obtaining approvals, whether for a budget line item or requesting time off, is another process that workers are eager to automate. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed wish they could automate getting sign-off or approval, and 30% would like to automate follow-up on their requests.
When looking for a tool to automate approvals, look for solutions with simple rules that any employee can use, without needing to write code, utilize complex formulas, or phone a friend in IT.
Smartsheet Automated Actions empower staffers to easily build automated approval processes that are triggered based on preset rules, meaning they automatically send an approval request to a manager or customer. Approvers can easily field and approve (or deny) the request from any device, to keep the process moving forward.
3. Automate Updates to Increase Team Throughput
Another repetitive task that workers are eager to automate: providing status updates to managers. Because they spend a lot of time keeping people up to speed, 32% of respondents want to automate status updates. This lets them easily keep everyone in the know, without the needless distraction that comes from constantly popping in and out of email.
With Smartsheet Automated Actions, workers can easily set up automated updates to prompt users for updates in order to keep work moving forward. Rather than bottlenecking projects due to a delayed status update, automated updates trigger requests to the right people, at the right time, based on preset rules.
Foster Innovation and Creativity with Automation
Now is the time for organizations to automate work processes and free up workers to focus on more valuable and creative work. What innovative, high-ROI tasks could your employees produce if you added almost an entire day back into their week? How could they contribute to the success of your organization if they weren’t bogged down by administrivia? An overwhelming majority of workers — 97% — believe automation can benefit their organization. And they’re ready to show you what’s possible.