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How automation can benefit your organization

by Jean McGann, CPA

Simply put, “automation” is the act of automating certain processes within an organization. These processes could include accounts payable and receivable, payroll, and other administrative functions. While automation typically relies on software, it’s not about reducing your organization’s headcount. Instead, it’s about finding ways to eliminate redundancies, paper, and even errors. The result: Your staff members are free to do more of what they were hired to do—and empowered to do it more easily.

Automation leads to centralization

Automation allows you to centralize documentation, streamline communication, and avoid manual processes. For instance, certain accounts payable software accepts electronic invoices and automatically routes them to the right recipient. Not only does this eliminate the shuffling and scanning of papers—it also keeps staff members from having to make potentially time-consuming decisions about where an invoice should go. This is particularly helpful for staff members who are working remotely or those who work in the field.

How automation can benefit your fieldworkers and stakeholders

Automation not only provides help to office staff, but also to your residents or fieldworkers who are performing duties outside of the office.

1. Conveniently schedule work orders or inspections

An electronic work order system allows residents to schedule work orders or inspections at their convenience. By calling into an automated phone system or visiting your website, residents can choose from a set of appointment times to find the one that works best. Then, the work order automatically shows up in the scheduling system—and in the residents’ online accounts and fieldworkers’ calendars. This reduces opportunities for redundancies and inaccuracies while giving residents peace of mind their appointment is set.

2. Improve customer service

Allowing residents to apply for and purchase building permits and licenses electronically is a win-win for all. For example, one city we worked with was having a hard time managing its licensing and permitting processes. Residents wanted to be able to apply for and purchase licenses and permits online, but the city just wasn’t there yet.

With our guidance, the city implemented software that automated its entire license and permitting process, including the online application. Not only is the finance department now able to immediately collect fees, the city’s inspectors can automatically upload their permitting files to the city’s online system, where they can easily be accessed by residents. Better workflows have led to better customer service—and a happy ending all around.

3. Eliminate wait times for inspection certificates
When an inspector completes an inspection, cities must often mail the certificate, such as a certificate of occupancy, to the resident, or the resident must come to city hall to pick them up. This requires an administrative staff member to enter data from the inspector’s report, print the certificate, and put it in the mail or alert the resident for pickup. Automation (in the form of an electronic work order system) improves this process. If an inspector has a laptop or tablet in the field, he or she can email the certificate to the customer or print it from a portable printer.

4. Streamline scheduling

Scheduling work orders can be a tedious process for all involved. Many cities rely on paper and email to make it happen, which can lead to redundancies and inaccuracies. Replacing manual work orders with an electronic work order system can improve the entire process.

With an electronic work order system, customers can call into an automated phone system or visit your organization’s website to schedule a work order or inspection. Then, the work order automatically shows up in the scheduling system—and even in fieldworkers’ calendars. Fieldworkers can access the work order information in the field via a tablet or laptop, saving them from having to decipher it or take a trip back to city hall to get the details.

5. Reduce time spent on the road

As previously mentioned, an electronic work order system allows fieldworkers to access and review work orders in real time. This often prevents them from having to make a trip back to city hall to find out what’s next on their schedule. You can also set up this type of system to allow residents to report potholes online. This can limit the amount of time fieldworkers spend looking for them.

 6. Finalize inspections on site

When inspectors complete their inspections, they’re often left with one final step: sending the certificate, such as a certificate of occupancy, to the customer, or alerting the customer it’s ready for pickup. Without an electronic work order system, an inspector has to take the notes back to city hall where someone else must enter the data, print the certificate, and mail it to or notify the customer. Automation eliminates four steps in this process. If an inspector has a laptop or tablet in the field, he or she can email the certificate to the customer or print it from a portable printer.

Allowing residents to apply for and purchase building permits and licenses electronically is a win-win for all. For example, one city we worked with was having a hard time managing its licensing and permitting processes. Residents wanted to be able to apply for and purchase licenses and permits online, but the city just wasn’t there yet.

With our guidance, the city implemented software that automated its entire license and permitting process, including the online application. Not only is the finance department now able to immediately collect fees, the city’s inspectors can automatically upload their permitting files to the city’s online system, where they can easily be accessed by residents. Better workflows have led to better customer service—and a happy ending all around.

Leave your worries behind

When implemented correctly, automation can make life easier for your organization’s staff and improve its overall performance. If you’re ready to explore your options, Abdo is here to help. The first step is to understand your organization’s processes. This allows us to determine where automation would make the biggest impact. Whether your organization needs a comprehensive process evaluation, accounts payable automation, or even training, we can provide a focused solution.

Ready to get started? Contact us today.


 

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