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How Does an Automation Company Use Automation?

The benefits of workload automation go beyond speed to increase employee engagement, innovation, and retention. How do we know? We use it ourselves.

Ryan Dimick
Ryan Dimick
VP of Engineering
Read Time
6 mins
Last updated
Jun 3rd, 2022

We’re big fans of workload automation at SMA Technologies. You won’t find any cobbler’s children running around without shoes here. Workload automation helps our customers automate complex workflows in areas such as payments, document imaging and storage, statement processing and creation — and it does the same for our internal operations.

As the VP of Engineering at an automation solution provider, I get to see firsthand how our products enable a company to scale because we don’t just sell an automation solution; we use workload automation to enable our success. Automation saves us money and time and contributes to our culture of creative, independent thinking.

laptop automation

How we use automation at SMA Technologies

As a tech company, we use tremendous amounts of server space, and the cost can be substantial. Workload automation lets us control that space to ensure high levels of functionality without waste.

For example, our training class instructors use the self-service feature on our automation platform OpCon to request a specific number of machines or environments for each student enrolled in a class. We use automation to build out those environments, manage them, turn them down at night and then turn them back up in the morning to align with the class schedule. And, once the training is over, we have automatic cleanup built-in as part of the workflow.

This automation of these steps saves each instructor from the time and effort of performing these tasks manually or needing to involve the IT team. It also lets us efficiently manage the high costs of server space so that we’re only paying for machines we’re actively using.

Similarly, our engineers work in a sandbox development environment where they can experiment with new applications and features. It is great for product development and testing, but it can use up a lot of expensive server space. Automation lets us automatically allocate server resources and then quickly and efficiently clean them up when needed. This way, our IT staff put their energy into innovation, not manual clean-up of machine space.

Benefits of automation in our organization

Because automation frees our IT staff from routine, often monotonous tasks, they have the bandwidth for higher-value activities, like product innovation. The team is free to develop new capabilities that we can roll out internally and for our customers.

But the benefits of automation go beyond the IT department.

For instance, automation lets our sales team create personalized environments that successfully demonstrate our services to potential clients. We’ve also automated a large part of our customer support so that we can track, process and analyze inquiries while ensuring nothing gets lost. Even our marketing, HR and finance teams use automation.

In other words, automation frees up our staff across the board to focus their energies where they can bring the most value.

At SMA, we’re big believers in empowering the people closest to the work to make decisions. OpCon gives our users the freedom to innovate or try new solutions to a problem without asking permission from management or going through IT.

Impact on company culture

Naturally, automation is great for getting stuff done faster and more effectively, but it goes beyond increased efficiency. Done well, automation also helps promote a culture of empowerment by allowing end-users more freedom to innovate and experiment.

At SMA, we’re big believers in empowering the people closest to the work to make decisions. OpCon gives our users the freedom to innovate or try new solutions to a problem without asking permission from management or going through IT.

Take our finance team, for example. Tracking and measuring financial performance requires pulling data from multiple sources and compiling it into a single location for analysis. The process can be tedious, time-consuming and error-prone. Instead, we’ve automated it so our financial team can spend more time analyzing the data and less time collecting it.

Our people appreciate the trust and autonomy workload automation affords, but this kind of freedom goes beyond being a nice perk. As a company, we’ve seen increased creativity and innovation among our staff. That’s great for business, and it also means higher morale that’s helped us recruit and retain high-value employees when other companies are struggling with retention.

You don’t need to be an automation company to benefit

Of course, you don’t need to be an automation company or employ in-house automation experts to enjoy the advantages of automation. Any industry, from retail to manufacturing to financial services, can benefit.

For a bank or credit union that provides mortgage services, for example, a single loan application kicks off a tremendously complex series of steps, including a preapproval process, a credit check, issuing a loan estimate, customer communications, mortgage processing, and underwriting. These steps require multiple, complex systems to talk to each other.

Rudimentary tools like job schedulers simply aren’t sophisticated enough to seamlessly connect and work across these systems, especially given the increased complexity of IT environments. Manual oversight diverts staff time from more important work and increases the chance of errors. Workload automation, however, can automate workflows across multiple IT environments in a sequenced way to execute complex tasks without the need for manual intervention.

Companies that benefit most from workload automation tend to process a high volume of transactions and need to export and manage data across multiple systems in a predictable and repeatable manner.

“What should I automate at my company?”

We get this question a lot. My answer: If you have to do it more than once, automate it. Any repeatable task involving data is likely a great candidate for automation. As long as the decision-making criteria aren't overwhelmingly unique between different occurrences, you'll probably find that you can develop a systematic way of working through a process.

When implementing automated workflows, you'll typically invest a little time upfront in setting up the processes, but you’ll get that time — plus a lot more — back later.

High-risk activities are also good candidates for automation. Think of any situation where you need to manually key information or move data between systems. Automation reduces the chances of human error by more than 90 percent.

So, start looking around and ask your teams for suggestions. Most of our customers learn they can automate many more workflows than they thought.

Automation: Everyone wins

The beauty of automation is that companies and employees win. Employees spend less time on tedious tasks, which frees them up to do more fulfilling work, leading to higher engagement and work satisfaction. Moreover, they can get that work done with less oversight, which in turn lets managers focus on the bigger picture.

The company benefits as well. Staff can bring more creative thinking and innovation to the table, happier employees mean lower turnover, and the company can scale faster and easier.

There’s no limit to the democratizing power of workload automation.

In this article

At SMA, we lead by example when it comes to the many benefits of workload automation. VP of Engineering Ryan Dimick shares several ways we use automation across departments at SMA to encourage creativity and boost efficiency.

Have a question about automation? We’d love to hear from you.

Send us a message and someone will contact you as soon as possible.
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