5 Business Processes You Should Automate

There’s plenty of talk about automation in the business world. Some business leaders swear by it, but you’re not alone if you feel unsure about business process automation. Whether you’re wondering how to start or questioning if it’s even worth the effort, a little more information might be all that you need. Research shows that business process automation benefits customers by connecting them with personalized products, providing easy answers to their questions, and improving their experience with your brand. 

Business process automation also promotes small business growth by boosting employee productivity and increasing collaboration and transparency. In addition, automation helps small businesses safeguard against common business risks, such as financial fraud. Here are the five areas that most benefit from business process automation, along with a few tools to accomplish the task.

1. Sales

This master list of automated sales tools may be the new best friend of your sales team. Automated technology can perform their most time-consuming tasks, giving them increased freedom to work on tasks with a higher ROI. For example, automated software can create a lead list for you, allows your team to skip data entry and build relationships with potential buyers instead of building a spreadsheet.

Other automation perks might include simpler contracts with an e-signature tool or streamlined task assignments. Other programs allow you to strengthen your SEO strategy and improve your sites for mobile browsing and purchasing. You can also boost your brand on social media by curating quality content and automating its delivery.  

Email management is another key element of a successful sales strategy, and there are plenty of ways that automation makes it even more effective. Some programs scrape websites for email addresses, while others sort your inbox for you. Other tools notify you when a lead opens your email, advising you which content is effective for which demographic. Whatever your sales model, using one of these tools for automation can help boost your efficiency and increase your conversion rate.

2. Finances

Here is where error prevention really comes into play. Simple mistakes, like forgetting to send an invoice to one of your clients, can be costly for any business. Financial platforms like QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics GP, and FreshBooks automate your finances, helping to eliminate these costly errors. These robust accounting platforms can do everything from bookkeeping to invoices, not to mention payroll and occasionally inventory management.

If you’re still working up to an entirely automated accounting software, consider starting with just invoices, just payroll, etc. Programs that specialize in just one financial function will cost less than an inclusive accounting software. Another way to optimize your finances is to hire freelance workers to do your bookkeeping or taxes. Whether it’s software or a contracted expert, automating your financial processes is a wise investment in your business’ security.

3. Inventory Management

Though some accounting software doubles as an inventory management system, most do not. Luckily, there are specialized platforms and software for inventory management as well. It’s a worthwhile investment, as one expert estimates that companies who improve their inventory management can expect to raise profits 20 to 50%. It makes sense—streamlining your inventory processes can eliminate waste, decrease costs, and improve your forecasting.

The top automated inventory management software will help you monitor your current stock, track purchases in real-time, and integrate with shipping for additional data. It should also integrate with other systems, such as your accounting platform, point-of-sale software, and more.  Automating your inventory data gives you a real-time view of customer demands, allowing you to capitalize on hot spending trends or redirect your strategies if needed.

4. Time Cards

Automatic time sheets are a logistical necessity for big businesses, but what about for startups or small businesses? With only a few honest, hard-working employees, why invest in a time and attendance system? In a recent study of American workers, 39% of respondents agreed that consistently working beyond normal hours negatively impacted their productivity, personal wellness, and overall work/life balance.

Startups and microbusinesses are especially prone to long work weeks, since employees often fill multiple roles. Protect yourself and your employees from burnout by investing in an quality automatic time tracking system. Not only can they record time punches, but they track total hours worked, PTO accrued, and requests for time off. 

Some time trackers integrate with your payroll system, eliminating payment errors and simplifying your finances even more. Others specialize in remote work, recording an employees’ geolocation before or after shifts, or even while they work. With an automatic system, employees can check in and out using desktop computers, mobile devices, fingerprint scans, or even applications like Twitter or Slack.

5. Your Most Hated Business Tasks

Now here’s the best news of all—not only does business process automation streamline your sales and finances, but it helps eliminate your uniquely repetitive tasks. Do you spend too much time syncing calendars or setting up meetings? Tracking receipts? Organizing documents? Adjusting the thermostat? Odds are, codeless automation can help with that.

So how does it work? The idea boils down to “If This Then That” (IFTTT), the name of one leading brand in codeless automation. IFTTT, Microsoft Flow, and Zapier partner with hundreds of apps, software, and programs and connect them. Create an account, sync it with the apps you want to pair, then create a sequence of events that you wish to automate. It’s that simple.

You might send an automated Facebook message to every new Instagram follower without ever opening up the apps, or backup your files to Dropbox without an extra thought. If it’s a business task that you do frequently on your computer or phone, IFTTT can help you do it faster, or even do it for you.

Business Process Automation Done Right

These are only five of the many possible ways that automation can streamline your business. Automated processes increase the security of finance and inventory management, and decreasing the monotony in time tracking or sales allows your employees to take on more important, more rewarding tasks.

Your approach to automation will be unique, so follow your instincts and don’t hesitate to try something new. You know your business better than anyone, and now is the time to identify the business processes that need a little help.  Who knows? After a little personal experience, you may be the next big advocate for automation.

About the author

Madison Crader specializes in content related to small businesses building brand awareness and gaining access to capital to grow their business. She has a passion for helping entrepreneurs understand their financial needs and set long-term goals by sharing tips and tricks.


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