With all the time and effort that most small and medium businesses spend on manual processes, there's a lot of room for improvement. Spending a little time and money learning how to automate your business processes can massively improve your business's efficiency and boost profitability at the same time.
Why automation is so important
In today's competitive marketplace, automation is all but necessary. First and foremost, automation is key to streamlining working processes, which frees staff and employees up to spend more time on tasks that add genuine value to your product or service. Customers are discerning, and if they know they can get greater value elsewhere, that's where they'll go.
Whether this means ensuring that your R&D staff spends less time on paperwork and more time actually developing new products or simply means your admin staff has more time to deal with important customer inquiries one-on-one, automation is key to value.
Secondly, the fact of the matter is: everyone else is doing it. According to McKinsey, 31% of businesses have fully automated at least one function and two-thirds of businesses are at least piloting the automation of business processes. In a busy market, it's all about keeping up with the Joneses. If your competitors are able to add more value, improve customer service, or get more done in less time because they're automating tasks, your business needs to do it too.
How to automate your business processes
Stage 1: Planning automation
The first step is planning how to automate your business processes in a way that will bring the most benefit and the biggest time savings to your business.
It's also worth noting that just because a task can be automated, it doesn't mean it should be: tasks like content creation, web design, and translation can be automated using sophisticated AI technologies but, generally speaking, the results won't be great.
This is a good time to speak to staff and colleagues and ask them to help you to identify the tasks that are most repetitive and time-consuming. These might include making payments and sending invoices, entering data into spreadsheets, updating files, and general document management.
Once you've identified manual tasks that can easily be automated, it's time to think about how.
Stage 2: Implementing automation
There are literally hundreds of automation tools in existence right now, each one designed for specific use cases and many only used in particular sectors. For example, many insurers now use AI software to automate parts of the claims process and in IT security there exist tools to automate password resets and new account creation.
Once you know what you want to automate, it's easier to find the right tools for the job. You might want to research specific tools that meet your business's own needs, but for common tasks like payment processing and invoicing here are some of our recommendations for automation tools you might want to explore.
Credit Hound is a credit management service that automates the most tedious and time-consuming parts of your business. It will find new opportunities to collect debts, identify which clients have bad credit ratings, and provide valuable data for collections activity analysis. Credit Hound automates multiple processes in the workplace and can be used by either an individual or a whole team, making it completely scalable no matter the size of your operation.
Using automation software like Credit Hound can not only improve time management at work, freeing up your employees to spend more time on other tasks, but it can also improve the performance and quality in those tasks that are automated. For example, using Credit Hound, you can ensure that all of your business's invoices are paid on time, helping your business to avoid long-term debts and improving your businesses' reputation with creditors and commercial partners. It will also help you to keep track of debts you're owed, which helps with cash flow (and again ensures you have the money to pay your own invoices).
Like any really useful tool, the benefits of Credit Hound work together and spiral in their usefulness; each element, taken separately, is helpful, but the total sum of those elements is truly transformative when used correctly.
Stage 3: Tracking automation
Once you've implemented automated processes, it's important to track these changes to ensure they're doing what you intend them to do. This means setting automation targets and tracking KPIs which measure the success of your automation tools.
By setting KPIs that matter, you can track the results of your changes and refine your automation processes to maximise efficiency and profitability from your automation. Your KPIs might be based on current performance levels, with the view to simply matching current performance while freeing up staff to invest more time on other tasks, or you might be shooting higher. Whatever your goals, set them and stick to them.
You'll also need to invest time and resources in providing training to all staff to ensure your new automation tools are being utilised properly. This needs to be included in new staff onboarding, too; automation tools are only as good as the people using them.
Now that you know how to automate your business processes...
Once you start using automation software across your business, you'll realise just how much of an impact it has on your workflows and your office culture. Automation must be built into the office mindset; encourage your employees to make the most of the resources available to them, prioritise efficiency, and think outside of the box when it comes to getting things done.
At Draycir, we help our customers to maximise efficiency and versatility with automated solutions including Credit Hound. To find out more about how we can help you to automate document delivery, payroll, credit control, and other essential tasks, contact us today.