Two things to consider when it comes to automating your business: first, your competition is doing it, so you don’t want to fall behind; second, there are opportunities to be had with automation. The time is now to automate your business process and take your business to that next level of profits, growth, and efficiency. What does automation involve? Let’s take a look.
What Business Processes to Automate
First, let’s define Business Automation. Automation is getting workflows going without human involvement. It essentially means eliminating a process altogether from a human perspective. Imagine no more meetings about meetings. Here are a few functional areas of your business that can potentially be automated:
- Sales: Using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solution automates your sales process, from initial contact with prospects to sales meetings to proposal presentation to the final closed opportunity. All along the way, you’ll be able to access data, dashboards and reports to help your whole team focus on getting better results, rather than spending that time entering data into forms and spreadsheets.
- Marketing: One of the biggest lost opportunities for any business is untouched leads. A lead can come in through a phone call, a web form, an online chat, you name it. What happens to that lead? When you automate your marketing communications, that lead is nurtured and turned into a genuine Sales Opportunity. Then, it can be automatically dropped into your CRM!
- Operations & Logistics: Every process in your operation is a candidate for automation: manufacturing, ordering materials, shipping, inventory tracking, etc.
- Project Management: This a prime candidate for automation, because Project Management is defined by process flows and reporting.
- Customer Experience: Every point where your customers interact with your business is a potential for automation, as long as it creates a better customer experience. Resolve issues, complaints, and returns faster. Get orders out faster and provide real-time updates on shipping and order fulfillment.
- Finance and HR: Payroll, taxes, PTO (Personal Time Off, i.e. Leave) can all be nightmares for both employees and the HR team. Anything that can be automated here will be a welcome change.
Tie it all together with Communication, often the number one priority for CEOs and other leaders. Not only will you be eliminating processes, you’ll be improving communications between departments and internal teams.
Benefits of Business Automation
Businesses that automate their processes can see real, tangible benefits by taking the human time out of those processes. The benefits include:
- Growth: When sales and marketing teams spend time on activities that directly bring in new business rather than working on spreadsheets and reports, the company grows.
- Efficiency and Reduced Expenses: Let software do the processing for you, and you’ll see more productivity, and you’ll reduce the costs of having humans doing it.
- Business Valuation: If your exit plan includes selling the business, your business will have more value once its automated. A new owner will look to see how much of the business runs itself.
- New Opportunities: New products and services. New geographies. New sales and distribution channels. All of these present new opportunities once existing ones are automated.
- Overall Performance: When you can produce repeatable, reliable, consistent results, your operation’s overall performance increases.
- Boost in Morale: Eliminate the dreaded busy work. Show your team you care about their time and efforts
How to Automate Your Business
Let’s identify ways to automate your business. One key question you might ask is, “When?” That’s easy. Now. The sooner you automate, the sooner the benefits above start to snowball.
So, how do you find ways to automate your business?
- Start small. Find a simple process to automate. Document the process. Don’t begin with a complex system with multiple moving parts and external integrations. Cut your teeth on something manageable.
- Look for repetition. What forms, processes, reports, orders, etc. are you repeating over and over.
- Find paper trails. Literally. Look for processes that use paper. Is it order fulfillment, or shipping, or support tickets? Paper is a sure sign that automation is in order.
- Find processes that can be simplified. Do employees sometimes complain of how involved or complex certain workflows are? That’s a great opportunity to simplify.
- Information Flow. Do all the different pieces of software integrate? Does your CRM drop information from new sales into your logistics program? Look for synergies -- connected systems -- among your software solutions. Integrations are a great way to automate.
- Meetings. Can meetings be eliminated by automation? What is the purpose of your meetings? If you do meetings to update information, like order status, sales pipelines, and financial reports, much of that can be automated.
4 Simple Steps to Automating Your Business
You’ve done the planning work above, identifying systems and processes that can be automated. Now that you know where you want to start, here are four simple steps to automating your company:
- Set goals for your automation: What is the end goal, or outcome, desired from the automation. This will define a successful automation.
- Identify or create the automation tools, including custom software, software integrations, and more.
- Create reports and other measurement tools. As part of automating your processes, include automated reports that tell you whether you’re moving towards achieving your goals for the project.
- Automate Your Automation: Build an internal process to identify and automate functional areas of your business. Create an ‘automation’ culture so that your team finds new opportunities to automate and grow.
The Final Step in Automation
Get an advisor. Don’t go this alone. When it comes to automation, from CRMs to Marketing to connecting systems, we’ve been helping our clients automate business processes for years. We can help you, too. Contact us today so that we can discuss your situation and identify ways for you to automate with a custom software solution.