Automating your business processes is incredibly powerful.
Managers will tell you how it makes life easier and workplaces more efficient. Research will tell you that software can:
- Drive up profits
- Produce more stable work environments
- Spark new levels of productivity.
While some may consider automated technology as a complicated idea, it isn’t. We aren’t talking about high-concept AI processes. We aren’t talking about software designed for those with a Ph.D. in computer science. Automation for businesses usually means taking menial tasks and assigning them to computer software to complete.
Examples of commonly automated processes range from appointment reminder calls to email marketing. These tools take tasks that absorb a lot of resources and eliminate the need for your workforce to be involved. Employee skills can then be focused elsewhere, saving you time and money.
Automation is a win-win.
With all this information in mind, you’ve probably found yourself asking the question, how do I automate my business? To see results, you first have to deploy it across your company. In this article, we explain how.
Step One: Identify Tasks That Can Be Automated
Automation in business is a bit of a gray area.
Not every task can be automated. Some jobs can be automated where perhaps you thought the technology wasn’t available. The case may also be that automating a certain task is plausible but unnecessary.
Before you enact any automation strategy, it is key that you make yourself aware of what areas of your business automation can enhance. This requires two things:
- Awareness of what technology is available
- Awareness of what tasks and processes your business undertakes
Research the automation market and determine what software and tools are available. When you’ve completed this task, carry out an analysis of your workflow. Investigate where you could implement the tools you’ve identified. Think about how they can make your company more cost-effective or efficient.
You may also want to revisit the research phase once you’ve analyzed your workflow. There is the potential that you missed available tools in your initial “general” search phase.
For example, you may want to automate part of your customer acquisition process, but in your initial research phase, you didn’t find any results. Upon review, and searching directly for software that automates customer acquisition, you may find viable opportunities.
The more information you have, the easier it becomes to find automated business systems to suit your needs.
Step Two: Create a Strategy of Software Adoption
Automated technology is exciting. It can transform your business and allow you to develop in new ways.
Just take reminder systems.
Their benefits have been shown to have massive implications for businesses. Missed appointments can result in major revenue loss. But automated reminders are proven to drive up attendance by 37%. Implementing this software can result in important profit growth for those who rely on scheduled appointments.
However, introducing software and tools must be approached with caution. It is not uncommon to experience growing pains on the road to success.
Once you’ve determined how you are going to automate your business, the next step is to create an adoption strategy. A good rollout plan supports long-term stability. The last thing you want to do is set up too many new systems across your entire organization at once. If you do, you may struggle to manage them all simultaneously. This could reduce efficiency and productivity, and cause a few sleepless nights, too. With that concept in mind, here is what we recommend:
- Define a priority list of implementation. Decide which automated practices provide the most benefit and introduce them first.
- Create a rollout timeframe, where you allow enough time for removing old systems, integrating new ones, and training.
- If your automation will impact customers, inform them of your plans. Let them know about this new technology and how it may affect them. Could implementation cause downtime or change how they use your service?
- Start implementation at a slow rate, following your timeframe. Test to see how adoption takes hold and adjust your rollout plan as necessary. You should also always work as closely as possible with software developers to ensure you are fully aware of how to smoothly introduce your new automated solutions. If support is not readily available, we suggest using a different provider.
Step Three: Engage & Maintain
We are creatures of habit. We build our own ways of doing things and our own systems of task completion, and we stick to them. Bad habits and learned behaviors have been known to cause inefficiencies in the workplace. They can also be a problem when it comes to integrating automated technology.
When your employees are used to doing things one way and are then forced to change their methods, it can create problems. Work processes can become entrenched within your business. If you need to change them, you must encourage new ways of thinking.
What happens if you introduce automation without first addressing your workflow?
- Your workforce may be unable to complete their work, as they don’t know how to use the technology you’ve brought in.
- They may ignore automation and instead use old methods to complete tasks, making your investment redundant. For example, they may continue to call clients to remind them of appointments instead of scheduling messages.
- They may adopt new practices at first but slowly move back to what they are used to.
There is a simple solution to this problem: education and enforcement.
Begin by rolling out training on automation. This doesn’t have to be specific to the actual software implemented. Most employees won’t be involved in setting up — or actually using — the new systems.
Instead, educate employees on why it has been introduced, how it is going to change working practices, and how it will directly impact the employee. In the case of our example — reminder calls and texts — your employee may no longer need to contact customers. Discuss how this is going to change their role and what their involvement in the new automated process will be.
You should then invest time in making sure employees follow these automated practices. Stop them from slipping back into old routines. Reward and incentive schemes can be good ways to encourage employees to quickly adopt new systems and software practices.
How to Automate My Business: Key Takeaway Points
Automation is great for business development, but it has barriers that need to be addressed for maximum benefit. When looking to automate your company, ensure you:
- Automate the right processes for your business
- Create an optimized adoption strategy that supports successful integration
- Educate your employees on how automation will impact them.
If you follow these steps, you can enjoy the maximum benefit from automated technology. By putting extra thought into software introduction, you can help move your company forward and reap the rewards.