Business Automation: Cutting Costs and Increasing Company Growth
Business process automation (BPA) is the process by which businesses can automate processes that are repeated regularly. Automating workflow and processes can be a good fit for businesses in many different industries. Long- and short-term benefits will usually include reduced costs, increased efficiency, and better employee morale. The enhanced flexibility that results from automation also often allows a company to provide better service to its customers.
The Automation Process
When implementing automation, instead of jumping in to automate everything, begin with a single lightweight process to test the impact. Choose a process that doesn't require human intervention. This enables you to work out any issues before you begin impacting processes that are more critical to your workflow. Identify and resolve any problems with automation of the initial process, and then work to automate other more important processes.
Selecting the Right Tool
The tool you choose for automation is crucial for a successful outcome. The tool needs to suit the organizational needs of the business and its employees, offering the right capabilities and adequate scalability. Optimally, you'll choose software that is easy to use so employees can implement it quickly.
Define Your Goals
As you contemplate business process automation, think about your overall goals. Once you have defined your goals, backtrack to outline the best ways to achieve them. Generally, automation is an investment of both time and money, so it's important to analyze performance continually to ensure that your investment is worthwhile. Ideally, automation should happen in a series of phases, enabling you to stop at any point if the process doesn't meet your expectations.
Establish Clear Roles
After implementing successful business process automation, roles in a company will likely change as employees are freed up to take on other tasks. Be proactive with new roles and tasks so employees understand their new responsibilities. It's also important to institute methods of enforcing accountability to ensure that work is completed.
It's common for employees to resist automation, either actively or passively. To ensure success, encourage full involvement during the entire process. Keep lines of communication open so employees can share any suggestions for improvement. Brainstorming sessions are one option for involving everyone. During these sessions, you can receive both negative and positive feedback about the new processes. Work together as a team to solve problems.
Business process automation requires adequate training to ensure that the process runs smoothly and the employees feel comfortable. Every employee needs full training to use the platform; they should be aware of fundamentals of the tool, the reasons for the automation, and the desired outcomes.
Automation needs to continually evolve as it produces results. This evolution can lead to improved efficiency over time. Track key performance indicators to find areas where you can make improvements in processes. By monitoring and being willing to make adjustments, you can ensure that the automation continues to have positive results.
Make a Backup Plan
Technical glitches are an unavoidable part of automation, so it's important to have a backup plan in place for the times when automation isn't working. This way, your business operations won't come to a halt just because the technology does.
Common Areas for Automation
Social Media: Reaching customers via social media is an integral part of running a successful business. Many platforms exist, including Hootsuite and Buffer, that make it possible to post to social accounts to promote a business.
Project Management and Workflow Management: Project management involves creating and assigning tasks, communicating with a team, and keeping track of projects. Use workflow management software such as Asana or Basecamp to streamline this process.
E-Commerce: When you need to provide customers with the ability to make online purchases, you'll need an e-commerce platform such as Shopify or Printful that enables you to take payments and manage shipping.
Sales and Marketing: Another option is an all-in-one sales and marketing platform that creates landing pages, generates leads, and manages sales. Hubspot and Salesforce are two services to consider.
Communication: Email communication is a continuous process, but platforms such as MailChimp and Slack can help with organization and with implementing automated emails.
Analytics: Maintaining a website involves tracking traffic on a regular basis. Analytics services such as Google Analytics and Kissmetrics can help you track website performance and traffic.
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