Wherever you turn for information, everybody seems to claim automation is good for your business. While that sounds marvellous, it is also incredibly vague and (let’s face it) unhelpful. As a small business owner, you need to know what you are investing in as well as why you are doing it. Just because something is “good” in general, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you in particular. So, what are the mythical benefits of process automation?
Let’s get one thing straight, streamlining processes did not become so widespread and popular for no reason. Workflow automation has a profound effect on various aspects of your company including employee and customer relationships. We will do our best to turn the vagueness of the “good” into more exact and tangible benefits you can consider.
Let’s dive into it!
1. Huge Timesaver
It is no secret that manual tasks simply take a lot of time. It is not as noticeable when you are filling one invoice but when you consider doing a hundred it’s a whole nother story! Imagine all that work could be done in a few clicks!?
Time is precious, especially for small companies that need to work twice as hard to keep going. By streamlining conventional processes, you can give yourself and your employees a break from the mundane and focus on what matters.
2. Consistency and Quality
Many small business owners lack a structure for everyday tasks and daily processes, which means these are formed by employees on the go. But what happens when Jane is the only one who knows where and how those invoices are filed? What happens if she quits? Small business often take a hit when an employee leaves as they often take the knowledge of the business process with them.
Streamlining protects process knowledge and keeps it in your company regardless of the staff changes. Since automation of business processes is directed on repetitive tasks such as invoices, orders, inventory, payroll and so forth, gaining consistency is one of its biggest pros. In other words, your employees need to follow specific steps to complete a task at hand, instead of freestyling it and hoping for the best.
3. Avoid Wasting Resources
Saving time goes hand in hand with productivity. If you can be faster, it means you eliminate areas where the resources get wasted. Reducing time and energy previously dedicated to small repetitive jobs leaves more time and motivation to address more complex tasks that require human touch and attention. For example, you can significantly decrease the ever growing receipt for stationary and pay your employees to pay closer attention to customers or address critical situation instead of wasting time looking for misplaced invoices or filing dead-weight paperwork.
4. Slay the Paperwork Monster
Paperwork! Paperwork everywhere!
There is no escape!
Or is there?
Going digital will save your offices from turning into an unforgiving labyrinth of folders and files. Storing on that monstrous paperwork is not even the worst. The most daunting part is trying to find something and find it quickly. Even with the best manual system in place, the job is simply a nuisance. Automation is the ultimate paperwork slayer.
5. Reduced Costs
What do saved time, increased productivity, and paperwork have in common?
If you thought of saving money, you are right.
Streamlining enables you to save a lot of resources by minimising labour cost of mundane but inevitable processes, increasing the output by boosting productivity and minimising the cost of stationery.
6. Communication Made Clear & Easy
Chain emails are a nightmare. Trying to communicate and collaborate with a team using multiple communication channels is a recipe for disaster. It’s easy to get lost in all the “he said, she said” tangle of opinions, requirements and proposals and chaos is a first class ticket to error and conflict.
Automating and centralising communication within your team can do miracles not just for productivity but also relationships. Especially if you are managing a remote team!
7. How Did This Happen?
Trying to coordinate tasks across departments and keep up to date with everything that’s going on your company is not easy. Employees can make changes without letting other team members know or forget to file an important piece of paperwork. By the time the error is discovered it might be too late to fix it or identify what actually caused it.
When things get automated, not much can be done without a digital footprint. It leaves very little space for human error or lame excuses. Who does (or doesn't do) what can be easily followed through a trail of digital actions. It increases accountability and the capacity of your team to catch errors early.
8. More Time For Business
More important than minimising time spent on routine tasks is what you do with the time you have gained. Streamlining enables you to change the focus of your busy business from getting things done to getting things done well.
Instead of killing time and resources with paperwork and chaos, you will have a chance to focus on tasks that can grow and improve your business such as improving your product, customer service or following worthy leads.
9. Happier Employees & Customers are Loyal Employees & Customers
Small businesses mainly depend on their employees. Dealing with finding a competent replacement for any member of your team can be a real issue, especially so if you are based in a small town. It can result in significant delays.
That is why it is quite crucial to keep your employees motivated and engaged. Routine is the main motivation killer. Business system automation can help you get the boring stuff out of the way
The same goes for customers. The worst customer relationship killers are mistakes, delays and making your clients feel like you don’t have the time or don’t care for them. Streamlining is likely to make you a ninja in the eyes of your customers. Surprise them with speed and efficacy, and they will not leave.
10. Track, Monitor, Report, Improve!
Last but not least, uniting all the little tasks under one digital roof is a wonderland for data collection and monitoring. Without any extra effort, you collect data on everything going on inside your business. This helps you track and discover hiccups in your workflow and thus, lets you fix and improve based on observation and experience.
Where to Start?
Hopefully, we successfully broke down the vague goodness of automation. If you like what you read, you are probably asking what it is you should do next to move towards automating your business. The good new is you can start straight away:
- Use the list of benefits to identify the weakest points of company workflows.
- Check and cross reference your list with what your employees consider the biggest issues.
- Brainstorm suggestions for improvement (as a team).
Often expressing the need for improvement and showing your employees that you care about the efficacy as well as their work experience opens the door to better communication and solves some of the issues. Plus, focusing the energy on finding and fixing errors in the system rather than persecuting an individual every time something goes wrong, automatically increases trust, motivation and sense of loyalty.