Automation for Business: Why You Need to Do It, and Where to Start
Automation is a buzzword in the tech industry nowadays, and for a good reason. The fact that there are so many devices powered with software and artificial intelligence (AI) enables organizations to save time, money, and effort for team members.
But even in this tech-driven age, many are still wary of the impact that automation has.
According to a survey by KRC Research explained by Statista, both business leaders and employees agree on the advantages that automation brings. However, employees focus more on the risks associated with the change.
Why Businesses Need Automation
Employees do not need to be worried about automation. If you look back at the history of manufacturing, construction, and other industrial processes, it’s pretty clear that automation has been around for a long time. It started way earlier than computers!
Automation is, essentially, about transforming manual labor into a more efficient, accurate, and manageable process.
In this tech-driven age, where phones, vehicles, and home devices are smart, and the Internet can support so many tasks, it would be a huge loss for businesses to stick to manual work when a big part of it can be automated.
There’s nothing wrong with doing things the old school way. But if your staff gets bogged down with a mountain of administrative tasks and paperwork, you may be short-changing them of time to pursue more analytical and meaningful responsibilities.
With automation, employees will be less preoccupied with manual tasks, and instead be able to focus on important aspects of the business such as connecting with customers, enhancing product or service offerings, and analyzing marketing strategies.
Where to Start Automation
As most business leaders are expected to implement automation in the coming years, here are some key aspects of internal work that can be made more streamlined with automation:
- Collecting and organizing customer information
Aside from taking a lot of time gathering, organizing, and updating handwritten information, this may not be the best approach if you want to safeguard access to each customer’s information.
Remember that with the current data privacy laws, companies have greater accountability as to how private data is gathered and stored.
Automated software eases this process by letting potential customers input their information online via a landing page. This is then directly sent to your secure database and made available only to those authorized to access it.
Aside from easing the workload of your front-liners, this process can also help you segregate your customers according to various categories (e.g., if one group is a certain demographic, or one group is farther in the purchase funnel, etc.). You can then customize your marketing efforts depending on what will suit your groups.
- Setting appointments
Calendar management is notorious for being so time-consuming for employees because they have to contact each client to finalize dates and appointment times. And this is done on a daily basis!
If that amount of time and effort is shifted instead to nurturing relationships with customers, how much value do you think it could add to your business?
Automation helps you gradually increase time for other tasks. With different tools dedicated to automating appointments via email, phone calls, or SMS messages, you can get your staff working on more in-depth responsibilities that can contribute to your bottom line.
- Data gathering
In order to understand your target audience’s needs and align your business toward meeting them, you need to effectively target your leads. Without automation, sales reps would have a hard time consolidating all information and feedback about when and how prospects get in touch with your brand, or where they are in the funnel.
This is where a CRM can facilitate things. It enables your team to have a single dashboard where all customer interactions are gathered and consolidated into graphs or figures. From here, your team can pinpoint faster what steps need to be taken to keep customers engaged and moving toward conversion.
- Estimates and invoices
This is another administrative task that can benefit from automation. Since manual paperwork takes time to create, send, wait for, and file, you can opt for digital invoices sent and returned via email.
Automation also helps you keep track of dates, billing schedules, and payment schemes. You are able to slash the time spent on these tasks and bring more efficiency to your workflow.
- Creating and storing contracts
This is another aspect of professional life that involves paper and a lot of time tracking to get all necessary signatures and be approved. By automating redundancy in printing and sending contracts, your team will spend less time dealing with the paperwork. Digital contracts are much easier to send and return already signed.
- Screening and hiring process
In any organization, HR processes usually require mounds of paperwork that must be manually filled out. And there’s no area where this is most evident than when hiring new personnel. All those forms have to be printed, filled out, and stored in multiple copies for different departments.
Automation software can make your office work more simplified by allowing new hires to fill out a single form one time. This is then populated across all necessary forms and input digitally.
Automation also reduces the time and resources your HR team has to spend sifting through numerous applicants. You can use a system that immediately measures applicant information and provides you the most fitting candidates out of all the applications.
Without all the burden of paperwork, your HR team can then move to more important tasks like employee training and support.
- Generating reports
Every company is focused on sustainable growth. And this requires constant tracking to see if targets and milestones are consistently being met.
Reports on key indicators like projected sales, actual revenue, and others must be monitored regularly, but if you stick with manually generating such values, you may have a hard time getting accurate figures whenever you need them. Not to mention you’ll have the risk of human errors when calculating.
Using an automated platform gives you a whole set of data with just a few clicks. Hence, your team can proceed to discuss what position the company is in and what adjustments may help you reach your objectives.
Automation is not meant to replace human staff. Rather, it actually supports your manpower by streamlining their work processes. With it, your team can work smart without sweating the small stuff.
The best way to approach automation is to find a manual process that eats up the time. When you incorporate simple tools to make this process quicker, you can organically evolve to bring in more automation within your internal environment.