For mediocre businesses, automation is simply a buzzword. For market leaders, it’s a tool for boosting efficiency and being the best at what they do. How well you automate internal business workflows will determine your efficiency and success. Streamlining your workflows is not a one-off decision – it’s a continuous effort, one that requires you to be vigilant and proactive. Let’s look at 7 effective ways of automating internal business workflows.
1. Automate if it Makes Sense
For all its benefits and widespread implementation, automation is not ideal for every business process, according to economist Adam Ozimek. You have to decide which of your processes are suitable for automation. Automation is ideal for processes that are more time and resources intensive, and more prone to human error. These are the processes that you should investigate first for automation. Accelerating these tasks will allow you to focus on other business practices.
2. Take a Manual Process and Gradually Insert Tools for Improvement
Instead of creating a costly end-to-end solution right off the bat, you can take an iterative approach. This will allow you to go live quickly and cheaply, compared with trying to automate entire parts of your business. It’s better to find a manual process where you can add simple tools and speed up the process. With time, these tools can get more sophisticated, organically evolving into a completely automated process.
3. Automate for Internal and External Engagement
Automation can be important for scaling marketing. According to the Forbes Communications Council, automation is shaping the future of marketing in numerous ways.
In addition to being crucial for optimizing internal processes, it can also be used to drive revenue. There are plenty of solutions such as Salesforce and Marketo that are used to manage and improve sales. While automating internal business workflows, don’t lose sight of the impact automation can have on external results such as higher revenue.
4. Aggressively Automate Repetitive Tasks
Identify repetitive tasks and implement automation ruthlessly. A good example is of a company that needs to process hundreds of hires each year. This means uploading tons of names, addresses and other personal and professional information into multiple systems. Don’t let such tasks bleed your time and resources; they can be very easily automated and should be among the first things you should automate. William Craig, Founder and President of WebpageFX also highlights the importance of teaching employees how to automate such tasks efficiently.
5. Automate Small Jobs for Bigger Impact
Repetition is an important identifier that makes a process ideal for automation. Another one is the size of the task. You need to identify tasks that are small, even if they are a little complicated. Attempting to automate them is a good choice as you can safely test the results. And when you do this with numerous tasks, you enjoy a bigger impact on the business level.
6. Assess Processes for Potential Optimization
See if an optimization audit has been done recently. This will help you identify processes involving data entry, approvals, and reviews – all that need the most user input. You should then measure these tasks by the number of clicks, levels, interactions and cycles. Tasks scoring the highest on these metrics will warrant a higher priority for automation.
7. Use Transformational Projects to Enhance Automation
In addition to the obvious repetitive and smaller tasks, automation can also be bolstered through transformational initiatives. These are perfect opportunities to pinpoint inefficiencies that can benefit from digital solutions which can automate numerous processes across your organization. This will free up resources, allowing you to focus on more value-added activities.
Focus on Your Core Business; Automate the Rest
You know what your business’ core competence is. Everything besides that can be automated. Of course, there will be varying degrees of automation for different parts and aspects of your business. The guiding philosophy for automation should be that it should allow you to focus more on your core business.
At the end of the day, business leaders understand that automation is a means to an end. They use proven methods such as those mentioned above to automate internal business workflows in the most efficient ways possible. Smart automation will allow you to grow and thrive.
Fatima Mansoor is a writer at Aepiphanni, a small business operations and strategy consultancy that exists to help small business owners CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses. She specializes in business & entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and health & fitness. Her focus is on creating compelling web content for small and medium businesses form diverse industries. She mostly writes for entrepreneurs and marketing agencies across the US, Australia and UK.
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