How often have you heard the phrase, “We need to implement automation,” over the past year? And how many times have you invested in automation software only to find out it didn’t meet your specific requirements?
The widespread adoption of digital transformation, accelerated since the onset of COVID, has created an urgent need for Information Security, Compliance, and Risk teams to navigate the risks associated with emerging software. Additionally, there has been a substantial increase in regulatory requirement updates, prompting companies to invest more time in understanding the latest standards and evaluating their implications. Process automation remains a top priority to help companies respond to these changes. Unfortunately, many audit, risk, and compliance teams lack additional funding to expand their team, which has forced them to embrace automation at an accelerated pace.
However, when we talk about automation, what do we mean? Despite the considerable focus on this topic, there remains a knowledge gap. By debunking myths surrounding automation, we can promote a more accurate understanding of its potential benefits and challenges. We’ll break down four common myths about automation so you can stop questioning if automation is right for you and start embracing the possibilities.
What Is Automation?
Automation is implementing a technology, script, or process to remove specific manual components to increase efficiency. It is important to note that automation does not completely eliminate the need for human involvement; rather, it reduces the extent of manual intervention compared to non-automated processes. This collaborative approach ensures that automation is a tool that enhances human capabilities rather than replacing them entirely.
Myth #1: Automation is a Cyborg That Does Everything for You
Automation does not mean there is no longer manual involvement. While pre-built scripts and processes eliminate manual aspects of a process, a person is still needed to complete specific tasks. For example, quarterly control certifications can be automatically scheduled and sent to the owner with periodic reminders. However, the control owner still must review the control to confirm it is performed as expected. We recommend assessing your entire process landscape to identify tasks that can and cannot be automated to understand where opportunities lay.
Myth #2: You Can Automate Everything
Automation cannot perform all your duties, and it is impossible to automate everything. There is a buzz surrounding automation and AI, leaving people to wonder if automation and AI will take their jobs. In truth, automation helps eliminate mundane, repeatable tasks, freeing up your time to interpret data and make decisions. Certain processes are strong candidates for automation, while others need to be performed by a human. For example, you might automate your policy review process by creating automated reminders and routing finished reviews to the next reviewer. However, your policy reviewers still need to examine the policy to assess whether changes apply. We recommend identifying repeatable tasks, tracking time spent performing them, and then starting by automating the ones that would save your team the most time.
Myth #3: Automation Is an All-Encompassing Time-Saving Tool
Automation can hold a negative connotation in some people’s minds because of past experiences that involved lengthy configurations. Many types of automation do not happen with a click of a button and require time to thoughtfully and strategically set up. While some use cases are as simple as a click of a button, upfront work on the scripts and code enabling the automation is often required. We recommend investing time properly setting up the automation and understanding the end-to-end implications to save you time on the backend. Don’t let the setup time discourage you because the resulting time savings more than compensate for the initial effort.
Myth #4: Automation Is Costly
Yes, automation can be costly — but it doesn’t have to be. Many customers receive little funding to invest in automation tools. To maximize the budget allotted, invest in purpose-built solutions with pre-built automation so that one-off automation tools aren’t necessary. If you’re unsure where to start, we’ve seen companies take two approaches. The first approach is to review tools already in use at your organization and leverage current capabilities that do not require further investment. If no other communal platform exists, the second approach is to develop a crisp business case for your preferred platform that focuses on efficiency savings and return on investment.
Debunking the top four myths surrounding automation is crucial for organizations seeking to harness its full potential. Understanding the true nature of automation enables informed decision-making, fosters innovation, and positions organizations for long-term growth and resilience. If you’re not sure where to start, pick a process that has time-consuming manual components, break it down, and identify opportunities to automate. If you’re not sure where to begin, stay tuned for our upcoming article, “Scaling with Automation: How to Transform Four Key Compliance Processes Using Automation,” for concrete steps to get started.
Viral Mehta is a Principal Product Manager at AuditBoard. Prior to joining AuditBoard, Viral spent 17 years working in various PropTech industries building B2B SaaS products. Connect with Viral on LinkedIn.