The past 12 months have been filled with massive volumes of automation deployments across industries and sectors, with firms working to establish more fluid and streamlined business processes through the help of modern technologies. There is no denying that one of the most common pursuits in this regard has been the use of tools which specifically help to reduce inaccuracies and inefficiencies in record-keeping, reporting and general information governance.
Remember, reporting analytics and other data-targeted automation solutions are still relatively novel, meaning that while companies are certainly gaining some advantages with these tools, there is still much work to be done to reach and sustain optimal levels of performance and functionality. For most businesses, this will depend upon their ability to create and refine strategies in stride, while relying upon vendors and developers to continue innovating and providing a broader range of options.
Strategic oversight of automation solutions will always be critical, and the returns on investment leaders should expect will generally be closely dependent upon the adequacy and relevance of the underlying strategies in place to govern the various processes targeted by the technology. It might seem as though automation inherently frees up decision-makers from having to do much work on the strategic planning angle, but this is not the case, as the highest returns will be products of sound policymaking.
Going into the new year, there are several ways in which businesses can set themselves up for stronger performances with their reporting analytics automation programs, many of which relate directly back to the management and oversight of operations. To ensure that the company keeps getting better, rather than beginning to stagnate and falter in the wake of speedy competitors, leaders should ensure that they are putting their best feet forward with reporting analytics deployments and utilization.
1. Train employees
This is one of the most commonly overlooked requirements in business today, as many leaders and managers have been lulled into a relative state of comfort with respect to the ease-of-use new technologies offer, not understanding that staff members still need some form of education. Not only should employees be instructed in the corporate-defined policies and generally recognized best practices of reporting analytics, they should also be offered some form of training for the automation tools that are entering the corporate infrastructure.
As a reminder, every strategy is reliant upon people, processes and technology working in concert toward a common line of goals and objectives, and the first component of that trio cannot be overlooked at any point in time.
2. Monitor more
When managers and decision-makers closely monitor the performance of their reporting analytics solutions and strategies, they will be more likely to identify vulnerabilities and issues before they start to wreak havoc on productivity and efficiency in operations. Additionally, this can help to further improve responsiveness to compliance requirements. If the business does not yet have a tight metrics and monitoring system in place for reporting analytics-related tasks, the time is now to deploy one ahead of the new year.
Businesses can often gain an edge in these matters by working more closely with the firms that provide them with the automation solutions, as adequate metrics and monitoring can be difficult to establish without a certain level of experience and expertise.
3. Continuous alignment
Another common issue that tends to lead to poor return on investment and issues in reporting is stagnation in the strategy itself, with companies failing to adjust the various specifications of their use of tools alongside the evolving demands of the market. Alignment can be achieved in the beginning of a reporting analytics program, but this does not exonerate leaders from the responsibility of maintaining relevance across the board. Re-evaluate the strategy and the ways it is being executed, and ensure investments and policies are aligned with specific corporate objectives.
If the plan has not been adjusted or refined in more than a few months, chances are the firm needs to go back over its tracks and make a few changes for 2015.
4. Work with a reliable provider
The automation market has become one of the more competitive and saturated ones out there in a relatively short period of time, driven by the robust demand coming from virtually every region and industry around the globe. As such, a business should try not to get too bogged down in one solution, but rather work with a trusted provider of automation technology for reporting analytics and other needs, as the vendor can guide further adjustments and purchasing decisions with expertise.
This decision is often more advantageous than simply purchasing a piece of software and uploading it into corporate systems, as the firm will not have to worry as much about disruptions, outages and poor return on investment resulting from lackluster deployments or management.