Phasing in business automation… and how to do it

Business Automation

1. Implement Automation Where It Makes Sense

Not every business process is a good fit for automation, so each business must decide which processes are best suited for it. Processes that are time and resource intensive and subject to human error should be the first processes to be investigated for automation. If these can be accelerated with automated processes, then that permits more focus on other business practices.

2. Take Existing Manual Processes And Slowly Insert Tools To Improve Them

Rather than building end-to-end solutions to automate whole parts of your business, an iterative approach can be cheaper and quicker to go live. For example, find a manual process for which simple tools can be inserted to make that process quicker. Over time, as these tools get more and more sophisticated, you may organically evolve to a fully automated process.

3. Automate For Internal And External Engagement

Automation is fundamental to scaling marketing for us. Not only is it critical for optimizing our internal workflows, but also to drive revenue, since 60% of the B2B buying process is done online. We use Marketo and Salesforce as our core systems and use additional solutions such as Bizible, Everstring and various ad platforms. We collaborate on Google Drive internally.

4. Implement Automation To Handle Repetitive Tasks

We process nearly 300 new hires every year for our mid-sized company. That means uploading names, addresses, dates of birth and other employee information into several systems such as travel and expense, payroll and insurance. We programmed a software program we call Rosie the Robot to take on this cumbersome, manual task off. What took a human 30 minutes per new hire takes Rosie five minutes.

5. Automate Small Tasks For A Large Impact

We use tools that enable automation of small tasks. One example is automating sending emails at times that are most convenient for our partners. This enables us to stay in touch with partners around the world without having to worry that we might be disturbing them when they are with their families or elsewhere. It took just a few minutes to setup but has saved us weeks in missed connections.

6. Create Automated Connections Between Various Software Solutions.

We developed a code-checker and time-tracker to automate some software testing and reporting workflows within our development team. Both software solutions integrate with our project management suite, which doubles as our customer relationships management and human resources tool. This consolidated platform alone has saved the company countless hours of work, made management more transparent, and improved the quality of deliverables.

7. Audit Your Processes For Potential Optimization

If you haven’t done an optimization audit recently, it’s time to identify the data entry processes, approval processes and review processes that require the most user input. Measure these processes by the number of clicks and levels, as well as interactions and cycles. Those with the highest numbers have the highest need and return on investment (ROI). Work with your vendors or internally to develop solutions.

8. Leverage Transformational Projects To Kick Off Automation

We recently decided to modernize our enterprise resource planning (ERP) and CRM platforms. We plan on using this as an opportunity to automate business processes wherever and whenever we find the opportunity. Transformation initiatives are perfect opportunities to find inefficiencies that can benefit from digital technologies to automate the majority of manual processes and allow resources to focus on more value-add activities.

9. Fully Understand The Manual Process You Want To Automate, Then Code Them Step-By-Step

First, you need to understand the manual process that you are trying to automate. Then, translate each step into an executable strategy by breaking down each step into smaller tactical steps that can be simply coded. Check each step and fine-tune. Every solution for every step should have the flexibility to evolve and “talk” with the other parts of the system.

10. Focus On Your Core And Automate Everything Else

We automate sales processes with trigger-based email messaging, rules-based lead qualification and funnel management. We use data-driven marketing automation for social media and advertising campaigns. We’ve even deployed bots for customer service, calendaring and dev ops. This helps us to stay focused on our core competencies so that we can sustain, grow and thrive.

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