As soon as your business expands you need to react flash-quick to keep up. The simplest and most affordable way is to automate the business process. If automation is done correctly, then the business will grow and develop. Maria Tintul, Business Development Director at IT-outsourcing company LENAL shares her experience in automation

Why and when to automate?

For any business automation means additional costs invested in adjusting some of the basic processes of your company. No wonder you want to be sure why you’re doing it and when is the best time for it.

Automation is applied when the manager feels like you’re wasting your money and time. As soon as it helps you to adjust some basic processes it will result in getting fast revenue. Meet with your team together to discuss what you do repetitively - it’s the key to automation. You should automate those small parts of the project, of which you can quickly make some profit of. For example, sales process or interaction with the client.

Before you start it is necessary to analyze all internal processes, find bottlenecks in business, look at the usual rhythm of work from another angle and find the most optimal solution to improve its efficiency. Remember, thinking about automation is necessary when basic business processes of the company are more or less stable. Otherwise, untimely automation can lead to undesirable consequences.

What can be automated?

Sales process:

  • Automatic update of product information or delivery. For example, when the truck is equipped with a special application with geolocation approaches the warehouse at some definite distance the printer automatically prints the documents needed for the goods in this truck. This saves time for finding and storing required papers since employees spend 20 to 40% of their time searching for these documents manually;
  • Interaction with customers. If you’ve got a company with call-center, you can automatically distribute orders among managers and limit the processing time for each order. Managers will be promoted for closing the request in time and fined for neglecting it.
    Train your staff to transfer the main idea to your customers of exclusiveness of each client to you. They must feel your utmost care for them, that you appreciate the choice of your company and their time that’s why you’re providing service as fast and as efficient as possible.

Human resources:

  • Training of new staff. You compile a check-list containing all the information necessary for training new people. It considerably reduces time and costs for their educating and helps to start the process right away.
  • Preventing Mistakes. automation which is correctly integrated considerably reduces human errors and distorted data as some processes are adjusted in a way that they don’t need any human intervention. Usually, it’s about numerous repetitive tasks which can be done by special applications.
  • Improvement of personnel qualification. Efficiently trained staff delivers the right message of a personal approach to your clients thus raising your company’s prestige and forming loyal advocates of your brand.

Big data information:

  • Reports and invoices collecting They can be collected and sent using programs such as Invoicely. You can also automate KPI monitoring and then convert it into busy boards and automate profit & loss (P&L) systems.
  • Correspondence tracking. Automate and schedule e-mails and social media-posting,
    which will significantly improve the PR department and SMM.

Software infrastructure:

  • You have some more or less standard projects like Node.JS and you need to elaborate infrastructure for a team of 10 people working with it. You can automate it by making in advance a standard package infrastructure which next time can be installed for 10 minutes instead of 10 hours. You can have such automated packages for various projects.

How can it be automated?

There is an algorithm to make it work right. First, you choose and audit which processes need automation. Usually, these are processes absorbing too much time, human resources and money. Then you inform the staff that it’s an inevitable and useful change. You’ll have to build the whole culture of automation among your workers as they will hardly embrace the changes. Then you choose automated workflow tool to streamline the process and try to make it as simple and clear as possible.
You can automate it with the help of elaboration, fine-tuning and integration of some systems, sometimes it’s not even about software development. For example, at the call-centers you can adjust the correct telephony with tracking and automated integration of all talks in CRMs.   
As an option, you can hire a business analyst who will be paid for implementing automation of your processes and will hold the responsibility for the final result of it all.

What are the mistakes of automation?

Don’t try to automate everything altogether, do it step by step considering such things as:

  • with the small volume you will see the results faster;
  • your team will be encouraged more often by small wins and thus it will be motivated more.
  • Don’t apply automation just because it’s trendy and someone else decided to implement it. You must clearly understand why you’re doing it and what impact on your business you expect.
  • your staff needs to be trained to work with it correctly;

What can’t be automated?

You can’t automate the following:

  • Communication with customers as it requires personal approach. You need to know the background of your customer to personalize your mutual experience and convert your client into your loyal follower and advocate;
  • Exclusive or customized product that requires high expertise. There are some common cases when you already know what you can offer for automation. Yet sometimes you come across a non-standard product which is brand-new at the market. It comprises a lot of variables that can’t be automated as it needs to be deeply analyzed, divided into parts and treated accordingly. In such case, you need to carefully select tools to elaborate a successful business model for it. For example, you’re dealing with some luxury segment like Bentley development and it needs a high level of customization.

Remember that nothing is a waste of time if you use it wisely. But even if your business is based on day-to-day work, now is the time to focus on being productive. Do not be afraid of automation, optimize processes until you find the perfect combination of individual service and productive production.

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