Businesses that resist streamlining their processes will always struggle to provide a good experience for customers, argues William Valesco, co-founder of Website Express. Here, he offers his tips on how to improve efficiency through automation
As one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors, the creative economy offers real opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to build a flourishing business or for well-established companies hoping to expand their operations.
Key to unleashing this wealth of human creativity is embracing the automation revolution; automating the system processes of a business in order to eliminate the need for staff’s involvement in menial tasks.
It is something already underway in businesses across the country as managers and business owners seek to do the important functional tasks of business efficiently and promptly. Fortunately, taking advantage of the automation revolution is something that all businesses can do.
Not every job in a business requires the human touch, but automation does require people to embrace it in order for it to be most effective.
Those businesses which are resistant to streamlining their systems processes will always be playing catch up when it comes to an improved customer experience or employee satisfaction.
A common argument I hear is: ‘I won’t invest in a system because it only takes me five minutes to input something manually’, but it is the cumulative impact of all of those five minutes which leads to hours, days and weeks being lost to functions that could be undertaken, error free by an automated system.
I recall one particular example when a company had more than a hundred staff inputting data manually while their rival only had four employees doing the same job.
The difference was that the rival company had automated all their processes. We welcome intelligent machines into our daily lives for the time-saving benefits they provide and business processes should be seen as no different.
Steps to improve efficiency through automation
Identify where the drag is
There will be areas within the daily workflow of any business which will be time-consuming, repetitive or where double entry of data is required. While systems will vary from business to business there are a number of areas that most if not all organisations can readily address, such as:
- Generating quotes for standard products: for many businesses, the product / service offer is generally of a defined value. Creating a facility that allows the client to auto-generate their own quotes will streamline this process for the company and result in a much better customer experience for the client.
- Personalised documents: Depending on the level of personalisation required, generating documents can be enormously time consuming. Developing a system to integrate personal data with documents allows for all desired documents to be generated at the click of a button. The system can also store information such as the date and time the documents were created which is useful when it comes to generating audit reports.
- Reminders: Developing a system with rules and triggers that issue reminders based on the desired business logic can streamline workflows and reduce the need for employee intervention. This has the added bonus of providing a tracking platform to keep the business and potentially the client informed.
Once the areas for improvement have been identified, a business can begin to find ways of automating those functions. When planning how to achieve this, remember that automation is really about working smarter, visualising a path to success and utilising the right tools to achieve it, many of which are free or inexpensive:
- Google apps continue to be one of the best collaborative tools out there, featuring professional email, online storage, shared calendars, video meetings and many other useful features.
- There are a number of useful online accounting apps available such as Clearbooks, whose software has features designed to save time such as recurring invoices, reports and tax returns.
The automation revolution is already here. While some may worry about what this means for their long term job prospects, what it really means is that people’s time will be freed up to pursue something that no algorithm can match; human creativity.
For businesses that want to embrace the infinite possibilities of the creative economy, automation is the way to unleash the potential of your people.
The value of automation should not be underestimated. Time and again we see businesses that invest in systems which streamline its processes succeed against competitors that do not.
Efficiency is the key to any organisation regardless of size. A well run, efficient business becomes attractive to its customers, employees and potential investors.
More on how to improve efficiency through automation
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