The degrees of automation and why you need to be at level 3

October 31, 2022 Kamran Rajah

Programming a shortcut to run a script when you press a button is certainly a timesaver, but it’s not really automation. 

Designing automated processes is better, but there’s still more that can be done. 

At AIRPA, we believe true automation goes a step further – jobs essentially doing themselves, learning processes by example using artificial intelligence (AI). We call this ‘level 3’ of automation.

The three degrees of automation

In our view, automation can be categorised into three levels:

Level 1 is basic automation, where simple tasks are carried out digitally. This includes robotic process automation, for example. 

Level 2 is process automation, where software handles a process, carrying out a sequence of activities rather than a single task. 

Level 3 combines integration and AI to manage an entire process from end to end, linking up different pieces of software and removing human involvement and decisions as far as possible.

Benefits of level 3 automation

Many accountants are already actively using automation at those first two levels by digitising their work on accounting and practice management software.

This can save a lot of time, and allow employees to focus on more valuable parts of their jobs. But it doesn’t tap into the full potential of automation.

What really makes the difference at level 3 is the way AI can learn from what’s come before, becoming more efficient and improving the process each time.

When you’re working at this level, your software can identify patterns and trends, and bring them to your attention. And the more data you feed it, the more valuable the insights. Effectively, it becomes more useful the more you use it. 

Added to this are the insights you can offer your clients, based on the data the software flags up. AI can examine large volumes of data at a much faster rate than humans can, putting more information in your hands that you can feed back to your client. This means a more sophisticated, valuable business advisory service.

Risks of level 3 automation

While this is the standard we believe every firm should be working towards, there are some challenges and risks involved, and it’s important to make sure you set things up in the right way.

You should bear in mind that the more you leave in the hands of your software, and the more AI you implement, the harder it will become to understand and predict what those systems are doing.

That’s why you need to make sure you have the expertise to manage the automated systems you put in place either within your firm, or externally as a partner. 

You’ll need someone on hand who can identify the problem if things aren’t working as they should be, and who can take an informed view of the data presented by the AI.

With the right setup and support, a truly automated system can change the way your firm works forever – giving you more time, better insights, and a more efficient service.

Find out what AIRPA’s next-level automation tools can do for your practice with a demo, free trial or consultation call.