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How Quickly Does Workload Automation Generate ROI?

Use our handy formula to calculate your ROI for automation.

Read Time
5 mins
Last updated
Oct 21st, 2022

Workload automation (WLA) is a software-based solution for scheduling, initiating, and executing transactions and other business processes without the need for manual intervention. Because of the broad organizational benefits of WLA, it should be viewed as an investment in a company’s digital transformation. And, as with all investments, ROI is an important consideration.

How quickly an organization experiences a return on their workload automation investment depends on a variety of factors, including speed of implementation, the cost of the solution, and how many processes or workloads your organization automates.


What does ROI look like for workload automation?

At a basic level, automation ROI is the point at which the savings your company realizes by automating business processes exceed its investment in automation software.

Consider the following examples of costs and potential savings opportunities.

Investment costs:

  • Subscription or licensing fees
  • Ongoing maintenance and support costs
    Some providers charge additional fees for outages, technical issues, and software issues.
  • Training
    Some providers charge for basic training and implementation.
  • Additional automation consulting services

Cost savings opportunities:

  • Payroll hours saved by relieving your employees from focusing on repetitive, mundane tasks that your organization can automate
  • Reduced overtime pay as workload automation frees up staff from overnight commitments and other off-time processes that no longer need to run manually
  • Automated error resolution and a more efficient escalation of alerts to reduce system downtime

A formula to calculate the ROI for workload automation

To begin calculating the ROI for workload automation, consider variables like how many hours employees are spending on repetitive work that your organization can automate. What are the salaries of the employees engaged in routinized processes that are eligible for automation? Are errors associated with manual workflows causing downtime that leads to increased costs, even lost business?

Once you can assign an approximate dollar amount to these variables, the formula to calculate your organization’s potential ROI is: Your annual net savings divided by the yearly cost of your workload automation investment, multiplied by 100 (to turn the results into a percentage).

ROI = (Annual net savings / Cost of WLA investment) x 100

First, estimate your annual net savings by determining the number of processes you run each month that your organization can automate. Then, multiply that number by the hourly labor costs associated with those processes. Next, multiply that amount by 12 to calculate your annual net savings.

Formula 2 v3

Then, you’ll want to estimate the cost of your WLA investment. Understand the cost of workload automation software can vary widely based on the features of the solution as well as the complexity of your IT environment. The greater the number of features, the higher cost. Of course, robust, feature-rich platforms can automate more complex processes and tend to have more system integrations, so the cost savings potential is higher as well.

For the sample calculation below, we’ll estimate the annual cost of your automation software to be $50,000. Though, depending upon your needs, costs for WLA can extend well into six figures.

Employee wages, of course, depend upon the specific position, years of experience, and many other factors. But, for this illustration, we’ll estimate the average hourly wage for a computer systems analyst to be $49, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Finally, the number of tasks you can automate will directly impact your ROI. We’re showing just five tasks for this illustration, but many of our customers automate dozens of tasks. When you work with a provider with experience in your industry, they will likely uncover more tasks eligible for automation because they’ll have worked with many other companies similar to yours.

Formula 3 v2

Again, there are a lot of variables that will factor into your organization’s ROI, but at SMA, many of our customers experience a substantial ROI early in their investment, partly because of the robust nature of OpCon, our workload automation platform.

These aren’t the only variables that will influence the organizational benefit of workload automation.

Soft automation ROI factors to consider

Beyond “hard ROI” calculations that arrive at a specific dollar amount, it’s also important to consider soft ROI factors for automation, such as:

  • Higher employee morale
    Workers spend an average of 41% of their time on low-value tasks that bring little to no satisfaction. Freeing employees from these activities can improve morale and, importantly, retention rates.
  • More satisfied customers
    Happier employees lead to more satisfied customers, and satisfied customers spend up to 140% more than unsatisfied ones.
  • Fewer errors
    Workload automation reduces human error by as much as 90%. It also reduces unexpected downtimes needed to address mistakes.
  • Improved brand reputation
    An organization strengthened by consistently reliable automated processes will earn a reputation for its reliability.
  • Increased communication
    The right workload automation solution will allow your company to see across business processes, breaking down organizational silos and reducing delays that often result from poor communication.

Three ways to boost the ROI for your workload automation investment

Here are three ways our customers have increased their ROI:

1. Streamline implementation with an all-in approach

The best way to get the most bang for your automation buck is to have total buy-in across an organization, from executive leadership to ground-level employees. Involving the whole company in the automation process will improve employee acceptance and enthusiasm for the benefits of automation, including:

  • Better communication across departments
  • Multiple systems managed from a centralized dashboard
  • Various tasks scheduled in a sequenced manner based on a large number of dependencies

2. Automate more processes

The sooner you can get repetitive processes out of your employees’ hands and into an automation platform, the quicker they can return to revenue-generating tasks and other activities that are valuable to the business. The process opens the door to further automation opportunities, strengthening the cycle of productivity.

An experienced provider with domain expertise in your industry can advise you on processes to automate that may not have occurred to you. Processes to automate beyond core systems where our customers have found the most value include:

  • Document imaging and storage
  • Payments
  • Business intelligence and reporting
  • Loan processing and servicing
  • Digital banking

3. Build a foundation for digital transformation

Reallocating staff away from redundant processes opens up the opportunity for your organization to focus on more strategic initiatives that drive digital transformation and, ultimately, a greater return on your automation investment.

The more automation, the greater the ROI

When your organization invests in workload automation, you expect to see a return on the investment as soon as possible. The first step to a speedy ROI is a speedy implementation. Not only will you start to see an immediate impact from the initial automation, but it will also open up the opportunity for additional business process automation.

The deeper you go into automating business processes, the more chances you'll have to save hundreds or thousands of hours for employees, so they can focus on more meaningful (and ROI-boosting) work that benefits your customers and organization. And when you work with a workload automation provider with domain expertise in your industry, you’ll benefit from their ability to find specific tasks and workflows that can be automated to save you time and money.

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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