Automation is the buzzword uttered on the lips of most entrepreneurs in this day and age. Yet there are still businesses that are slow to fully adopt this concept. Some business owners are unsure of what processes to automate during daily operations. Other owners feel unsure about giving that much control over to a software program as they worry about missing out on some important piece of information or data that could influence the way they market and stay competitive in their industry.
Why Automate the Strategic Processes of a Business?
Don’t think about automation as losing control of operations. Think about this strategy as enhancing your role as a business owner and manager. Automation works well in an environment where repetitive tasks can take away valuable time and resources when those tasks are done by hand every single day. The amount of information that a business needs to perform quality services for clients and customers has grown over the years. Taking all this information and inputting the data into spreadsheets for each office department to use, generating reports, creating invoices, sending out emails, and developing analytical information for sales and marketing teams simply can put too much stress on an already overburdened business process.
Automation seeks to simplify the process. Instead of having to create a single invoice for each vendor, all you have to do is press a single button as the accounting software creates the invoices for every vendor and simultaneously emails them out on a specific day. When spreadsheets need to be updated with the new analytical data that has come in, automation can instantly fill in the right data fields so all spreadsheets are up to date.
By automating certain processes, you are freeing up more of your time that can be invested toward bringing in additional clients, helping customers, and developing strategies that can put you ahead of the competition. You will be able to scale down processes that are obsolete and taking up too much of your resources while scaling up important functions that can answer the increasing supply and demand of your customers.
Which Processes Benefit From Automation?
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to automating processes. Every business will have different operations and gain different benefits from this strategy. It’s best that you sit down and evaluate your operations, targeting the tasks which would benefit from an automated process. Starting out small allows for employees to get used to the new setup and redirect their work toward more productive, income-producing tasks. Once everyone is familiar with the automated process as it becomes second nature in daily operations, you can adopt it in other operations of your business. Here are several ideas of where you can start to implement automation processes in your operations to help grow your business.
Simple Administrative Tasks
Simple administrative tasks such as creating letterhead, making daily or monthly reports, and updating records can benefit the most from automation. The administrative department is also a great starting point to implement this strategy. You can instantly see the benefits and tweak the system until operations run smoothly.
Relying on the old paper requests, emails and bidder spreadsheets for traditional RFP processes can be streamlined with automated software. This software can instantly gather important bidder report information, place data into bidder templates and prioritize bid input so the vital information can be instantly seen and used.
Repetitive accounting processes such as invoice generation and late payment reminder emails can be automated quickly. You can simply set up a schedule when these processes will take place and let the software do the rest. Other tasks that can be automated in the accounting department includes alerts sent to you in regards to payments as well as electronic transfers of payments.
More companies have automated customer support departments. You can develop FAQ sheets and have software create help tickets that are sent to employees based on high priority and low priority levels. Just keep in mind that customers still like to talk to a living, breathing person in a chat room, through email or over the phone. So find a balance between automation and live customer support that offers the most customer satisfaction.