Companies rely on the manager’s decision-making abilities to run the business profitably. To stay competitive, executives have to rely on fast decision-making abilities. With speed comes the need to trust their gut and follow their instincts, often at the expense of short- and long-term viewpoints. In current times, bias is inevitable without conclusive evidence.

Inherent in the faster decision-making process is a need for swift deliberation of carefully weighted alternatives. Managers seek the help of enterprise resource planning (ERP), Excel and transactional evidence. Collecting information manually is one of the time-consuming aspects that can deter managers from this process.

In this article, let us look through the lens of a business owner making a time-sensitive decision and see how robotic process automation (RPA) can reduce decision bias, shrink time to decide and improve the quality of decisions.

A crucial aspect of decision-making is anticipating events and rationalizing initial assumptions while remaining open to exploring broader alternatives that may provide a better hypothesis for future decisions.  

Unfortunately, immediate interest that stays in the top-of-mind influence the decision-making process. Toward the end of the month, we tempt sales managers to provide discounts to close the deal. Repetitive periods of deep discounts may help the sales manager, but they often create longer-term financial issues thinner profitability.  Even the business owner’s thinking sways toward short- and mid-term decisions. Managers react more quickly toward the immediate term and, at worst, they outright ignore the longer-term affects of the decisions they make.

For periodic activities, such as annual planning consider instituting RPA for market research, forecast and business analysis. RPA can provide the possibility of relieving staff of valuable time collecting and managing data. Instead staff can engage in higher value business support functions.

People in different roles deal with the uncertainty around decision-making differently. For example, optimistic salespeople and conservative accountants will probably have different outlooks. Field sales teams are invariably hopeful of the prospect’s interest in purchasing.

Sales managers and owners who are a step detached from the prospect are likely to be more skeptical. Overconfidence, uncertainty and probabilistic predictions all carry natural bias toward a less-than-optimum outcome. To improve your judgment, analyze information frequently and use it to make calculated decisions. RPA can play a vital role in information collection, processing and communication.

While cognitive biases exist in sales decision-making, they are also relevant in workload planning and cost stabilization irrespective of the business cycle. Statistical algorithms (the software we use) do not know what they do not know, and human judgment may have domain-specific knowledge that enables better forecasting performance than any algorithm can achieve. Experience shows that, with the proper RPA as a supporting decision-making tool, humans can expertly forecast performance.

RPA can also help you reduce cost. If you use RPA, consider it a tool to help improve your decision-making process and  a time saving gauge.. Otherwise, when the economy is unstable, managers can fall into the trap of making rushed decisions.

While the cost of automation has come down to a fraction of a new employee hire, trusting RPA to perform human tasks is the biggest hurdle in adopting automation.