Business automation is a major part of the modern workplace. With the right applications, tools, and software to streamline everyday processes, business owners and employees can direct their focus to more complex jobs that require attention. This shift supports the company in its move towards growth and innovation.
In this article, we will take a look at a handful of different ways that SMEs can automate repetitive tasks to save time and effort. As a bonus, we also suggest an application that can be used to advance each goal.
Thanks to technology, there is no shortage of ways for businesses to boost their operational efficiency. The application, tools, and software that we discuss can be used to automate tasks ranging from budget reporting to digital marketing to HR processes.
To start, an excellent way to streamline your business is to automate financial and/or budget reporting. As important as these are, without the help of an application to do the heavy lifting and automate calculations, compiling reports is a time-consuming and complex process.
Our recommendation for this type of business automation is to use FD4Cast. Essentially, it is an MS Excel-based forecasting and budgeting system constructed with VBA programming. Using it, you can quickly create robust and user-friendly spreadsheet models, such as Profit and Loss statements, Balance Sheets, and Cash Flows.
With the help of ready-made and customisable templates, you can create several real-world forecasting or budget reports. Furthermore, checksums maintain the integrity of the spreadsheets by ensuring that there are no errors in the formula construction.
Needless to say, minimising human error is a major advantage of using this carefully constructed system. When dealing with robust reports which require large amounts of data, the fact that errors are ruled out means that Financial Directors can focus on decision-making rather than report production.
It is common knowledge that Microsoft Excel is the number choice of application for financial professionals. Harnessing its power with a system that can be set up in as little as 30 minutes gives you the ultimate flexibility and control over the reports you compile.
To be competitive nowadays, businesses have to engage in digital marketing.
Any professional marketer will tell you that consistency is key. However, this is not always easy when there is a company to run. Luckily, many components of digital marketing can be automated. From publishing on social media to sending out marketing emails, there are tools to help.
One of the better-known business automation tools for social media marketing is Hootsuite.
This neat platform allows you to schedule social media posts, provides one-click messaging, and identifies leads within your particular business niche. It also provides analytics so that you can gauge what is working and what is not.
If you are finding that you spend a lot of time sending out marketing emails, then Mailchimp might be what you are looking for.
Amongst other functions, this service allows you to send out automated emails. Target your customers at opportune times during their customer journey by using trigger-based functionality (for example, send an automated welcome email or a follow up to a particular action that your customer has just performed).
Another way to automate business is by streamlining customer service processes.
A typical use case for this is to have a chatbot available to answer questions and provide support on your website or social media messaging channels. In a time when consumers are accustomed to the instant gratification brought on by the advancing technology space we live in, chatbots can pick up the customer service slack when you are not able to physically be online outside of business hours.
Automating your system to handle queries goes a long way in improving customer satisfaction, minimising costs, and reducing the time your employees spend on repetitive tasks.
Zendesk, with its help desk features, is a popular solution for automating customer support and improving engagement.
Business automation around sales and lead generation has an attractive ring to it for most company heads.
Salesforce offers a powerful platform for sales teams. Using it, you can track leads generated through registration or contact forms, and chatbots can be set up to offer products to customers while they browse your services.
The platforms’ automated alerts, which remind you to follow up with leads means that you can stay in contact with your prospects and never miss an opportunity. Depending on their response, you can rank customer interactions to target each one differently.
Lastly, automating HR management processes has a definite advantage when it comes to both employee satisfaction and making life easier for the department. BambooHR is one of the comprehensive HR platforms available to SMEs.
Employee onboarding processes can be vastly improved with software that acts on workflows and automatically allocates key tasks to members of the team. For example, when someone joins, this could trigger a task for IT to set up an email account for the new person, as well as schedule a meeting with the department manager who is in charge of training.
This way, any new members of the workforce can find their way around the business quicker and reach productivity faster. No more wasted hours figuring out the who, what, and where, of everything during the first day and week of work.
While we have covered five ways to incorporate automation into the business to improve its bottom line, this is by no means a comprehensive list of what is available.
However, the processes, applications, tools, and software we have touched on do provide great solutions to start with.
Get your business running with the right stack, and you can expect reduced errors, cut down costs, and a lot more time for decision-making.