How to Create a More Efficient Business with Operations Automation
Automation is not created equal, as tasks like data entry and document management can be relatively straightforward; more complex procedures like supply chain and customer relationship management can be much harder to recognize and map for operations automation.
So how can you do it like the pros? How do you crack the big leagues and unlock all that potential and productivity you’ve been striving for? How do you do it when you have no time?
These seven principles will show you the simple framework to help you get started on operations automation.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have unlimited time, money, and energy? Yes, it would, but unfortunately, that’s not our world. Even though I said we would give you the steps to save time automating your operations, there is no avoiding the commitment that it takes to overhaul and improve the processes you already have. Principle 1 must be “committing the time to do it right.” A half-baked solution does not help your company; more than likely, this will just complicate the process and create systems that don’t work together or something much harder to unravel.
The next step you have to do is reflect. Reflect on your business, your personnel, and yourself and what you would like to achieve. Ask yourself questions and find out where the friction points are in your industry. Every business will be different, but try to find where several people are doing the tasks or where data and information are recycled through the company redundantly. By having these points of friction in your back pocket, you will now be able to find a pathway to automate and correct that process causing friction.
After you have an idea of a problem to tackle, you experience the fun portion of operations automation. The research is where you explore all the possibilities available to you. So much software and resources can be utilized to your advantage. This principle is the portion where the actual value of performing a digital transformation by yourself can come into effect and where your creativity and problem-solving can shine. The world is your oyster, and you have an option at your fingertips. Explore what is possible according to your budget, time, and other personal factors and see what you can come up with to reach those goals you set for yourself in principle 2.
Now that you’ve been creative, it’s time to stop being creative. Although a fun rabbit hole to go down, this is now where you start to bring your idea to fruition. More than likely, you have found a few software or options to choose from that sound beneficial to your company that will help you automate your process. These options could be an integration or API tool, a data collection tool, an automated marketing tool, or even specific things such as a new way to speed up a small business process using your current technology. Either way, you have a short list of ideas that you can effectively test out for your company.
As great as it is to make decisions on your own, there will likely be some approval process and other people you will need to see this automation through. It is always good to check with other stakeholders in your business that this might affect to know how you can automate a process. The additional information you may gather could be crucial to the solution working properly and driving value. If you are trying to help your coworkers with their job, they will likely try to help you help them.
Now you have covered all the bases researching your new automation solution. Poof, it’s done! Except that’s not the case. Now you must build the automation to your specifications and ensure it works properly. There will be a short development period if this is minor automation. If it is large, this will take more planning and resources. Since this is the most significant and crucial part of the project, the planning and budgeting should be well thought out, reflecting how important this step is.
Finally, we have principle 7, training. In this principle, we are talking about your business learning how to use the tool properly. Although you are giving your employees or company the tools to succeed, you also must realize there is a responsibility to keep your system similar across all the people using it.
A great example of this occurs all too often in our experience. Imagine there is a data collection tool, such as Excel, where you are storing all of your customer data. One employee enters “Bison & Bird,” and another enters “Bison and Bird.” You now have two account records with the same contact information. This is a common occurrence, and although seemingly insignificant, once there are hundreds or thousands of accounts, the accuracy of the data is compromised.
By following the principles of Invest, Audit, Problem Solve, Formalize and Focus, Gather Support, Build, and Adoption, you will likely have improved your business applications for a long time, all based on your creativity and operations automation tools available to you.
If you are still struggling with operations automation or find you don’t have the time, you can always contact us, and we would be happy to answer your questions and help you along the way. Now is the best time since we are approved digital advisors for the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP). Your business may be eligible for a $15,000 non-repayable grant if your company is registered in Canada and you have revenue of over $500,000 in any of the last three years.