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The Alternative Board Blog

Automate Small Tasks and Stay Focused on the Big Picture

May. 23, 2019 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Phil 1.22

A sizable portion of business operations involves tasks that are repetitive, annoying to those charged with handling them, and fairly easy to automate. In case you’re wondering which tasks fall into this category, here’s a (by no means comprehensive) list:

  • Invoices, budgeting and taxes
  • Data backup
  • Social media updates
  • Email marketing
  • Expense requests
  • Document approvals
  • Inventory management
  • Inputting data into contracts
  • Event registration
  • Task assignments
  • Employee leave requests

Ask employees who are currently in charge of manually attending to these tasks, and chances are they’ll tell you these and similar tasks are mind-numbingly dull and time-consuming (not to mention a significant drag on morale and motivation).

Of course, you’ve hired these individuals to attend these tasks, so their response might not be what you want to hear. On the other hand, what if you have other, more pressing and strategic projects and initiatives where these employees might be more useful to business operations? This could prove to be a much more efficient use of time, money, and resources on behalf of your organization.

Look for Other Ways to Maximize Efficiency

What about all the tasks involved in the sales process? Automated sales technology is available to handle tiresome sales-related tasks, starting with CRM systems that help nurture prospects, keep the pipeline moving forward, support timely communications with prospects, and compile data to aid in future sales endeavors.

Business cloud software also lends itself quite readily to automation. You can seamlessly integrate many third-party applications like those for payroll and customer support. Many accounting products, for example, combine accounting and digital invoicing in one process, helping businesses stay current with accounts receivable. They also provide timely reminders regarding unbilled time and deliver automated reminders to customers with outstanding invoices.

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Yes, you’ve hired employees to handle these and other repetitive, time-consuming tasks. But what if you could leverage their skills and experience in more important areas? Business automation “helps minimize operational costs, freeing up personnel to perform higher-level tasks which add value to the company,” notes The Startup. Where relationships are important, automation can “enhance human interaction and decision-making, as well as create real-time transparency.”

Get Started (and Move Forward) with Business Automation

Here’s a quick look at steps to take to integrate automation into your key business processes:

Decide where to start.

Look at current tasks that consume vast quantities of time and might be easy to replicate through automation (like the tasks listed above). Don’t attempt to integrate automation into areas where creative thinking and collaboration are essential ingredients, such as graphic design, content marketing, and related processes.

Choose the right tools.

There’s an abundance of automation software tools out there to choose from. Depending on your strategies and objectives, seek out features specifically designed to address your needs. Also, be sure you select tools that can be easily integrated with your existing systems. If they don’t, you risk widescale disruption of the entire workflow process.

Train your team in the proper use of these new tools.

Automation only succeeds when employees use it properly. That requires some training to ensure competence and confidence in the use of this automation. Also, proper training helps employees see the value of automating processes and overcomes any internal resistance that might occur.

Think beyond today’s automation needs.

You’re looking for automation tools that address the needs and challenges your business faces today, but don’t stop there. What solutions are likely to work best in the future? The tools you select should have built-in flexibility to adapt to large-scale changes in the months and years ahead. Don’t go with tools that aren’t adaptable to the growth of your business.

Pay attention to security issues.

Introducing any new software inevitably requires addressing data security concerns. Work closely with the vendor to make sure the new system has built-in security features that protect against malicious hackers and attempted data breaches.

In today’s digital era, no business can hope to remain competitive without incorporating some business automation tools into its operations. The benefits far outweigh the cost and resources involved, so look for tools that most effectively address your needs and make them part of business processes ASAP.

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Written by The Alternative Board

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