Every CEO wants to go on vacation: Why you should automate business processes
You love your business, you are doing your job great, but you feel like you’re constantly catching things falling off an infinitely long shelf. Or there were two months of winter holidays, and you worked for 14 hours a day to keep your business meeting the customers’ demand. You love it, it’s exciting, though tedious. You are like a hamster on a wheel, so you often can’t say how many customers you had in the last month, what goods or office supplies you need to order, and what is your average check. Sounds familiar?
Most likely you are trying to do everything manually, trying to keep tracking everything by yourself. As a result, you’re burned out. But you can’t afford to go on vacation, because everything will fall apart without you, won’t it? No, it won’t, if you take care enough of automation of your business.
Automation is the key to development. You can delegate your duties, but you need additional personnel for that. The other way is to give up all the little things, that consume your time, to machines. We live in 2022! Free your time for something more productive and let the digital brains work!
What is business process automation?
First, we must draw a line between business process automation and business process management. For example, process management is about when and how much coffee is needed to be delivered to your office. Process automation is about setting a 9am timer to start making coffee, connect an automatic water supply, and making a piece of software, which will send a notification to your phone when the coffee beans run out.
Simply put, process management is “how to run a business efficiently” – actions, that require human involvement, while process automation is “how to make a business runs efficiently by itself”. There are loads of little actions in any production process, which are essential, but you may and will spend hours making all of them by hand. You know what we are talking about – template emails to customers, client database daily updates, tracking balances, filing reports, and so long and so forth. All those tiny things accumulate within the week, and on Friday you’re forced to spend half a day on them.
Primitive example – while making the order, your client communicates with various departments, then your team process this order, and then your customer support get feedback from a client. On each step, some notes about this order will appear, and some new info will be added. All this information should be carefully collected and united in one client’s card or profile on your site. You need a centralized system to do that.
Why process automation is so trendy nowadays?
The world become more and more digital, hence, the speed of transfer and quantity of data have increased. Even the smallest retail shop has several hundreds of product items. Each product has its stock quantity, price, and often expiry date. Prices change frequently, quantity – daily, expiry date getting closer every day. You need to track all these numbers, and the human brain can’t deal with such an amount of information. Of course, sometimes the Excel sheet with the right formulas will do. But if you care about the well-being of your business in the long term, you need to create/buy/install some more complex system with additional functions. Some CRM, that will send a notification, when some item is out of stock, collect purchase statistics, etc.
Maybe, the modern fashion of total digitalization may look a bit much sometimes, but don’t let those conservative sights deceive you – there is no such thing as “too much” in efficiency improvement. It’s fool-proof – when you’re implementing too many innovations, the system becomes bulky and inefficient and that will be noticed immediately.
Your employees should not spend too much time on things, that are called to save time. Making changes to the product or customer card should take one minute. Carry out the order to the next stage of processing – two minutes. Forming the daily report – no more than ten minutes. Compiling all that info, transforming it into statistic reports, sending notifications based on these reports – automatically, with no human time spend.
If it can be done without your direct involvement – it should be automated
What kind of automation do you need?
Obviously, we are not talking about the “get rid of paper ledgers and make Excel sheet” level of automation. As a web development company, we are talking about a higher level of process automation. We are talking about full-fledged CRM systems, which allow our clients to upgrade from colorful stickers on the office monitor to convenient online service with 1-minute form filling and advanced report forming functions. Such systems in the development of which we, Code Harbor, have extensive experience.
The biggest struggle of CEOs of companies with massive process chains is to know exactly what is going on inside. At the first sight, everything seems to be working fine. But there can be some “leak” in one of the intermediate stages – worthless spending of time, resources, inefficient actions, maybe even theft.
The biggest struggle of a Customer Manager or Sales Manager is to collect all the information about the particular customer for providing the best kind of service, meet all customer’s needs and, also, collect valuable info for Marketing Department. Every piece of information can be used for further improvement and distinct reports. Well-set CRM can solve these issues, and with automated registration of each step, you will get a full understanding of your business effectiveness.
What obvious benefits your business can get from automation?
What could be better, than to stop worrying about how the business going, when you are having a day off, and get all the needed info with one click? And this is only a minor benefit, against the backdrop of a significant efficiency level-up your business can make with a well-set automation system.
- See the full picture and analyze
Each step of your production or service delivery stage becomes transparent. With automated logs and reports, you will see clearly the result of each step, each order, and each project. Hence, you will be able to make conclusions, in which department, on which stage you have a lack of resources, or maybe the opposite – too many resources. Such a system allows spending less time on controlling processes and more on monitoring and analyzing. This is a new possibility to fully comprehend your own business and indicate all its flaws.
- Reduce response time and error fixes
The new toolkit of centralized CRM allows tracking the possible mistakes and errors almost online, reacting to them, and fix almost immediately. Such valuable insights will allow you to take preventive measures and rebuild your processes according to an actual situation.
- Leave the routine work to the machines, and creativity – to the people
You will improve accountability, reduce the time spent on unnecessary tasks, and change your focus on more important issues. Possibly you will find out, that some tasks, your team were doing daily, can be easily “delegated” to machines. From a long-term perspective, you will surely notice a substantial reduction in work costs because of fewer manual interventions. Automation can free your personnel from almost all recurring tasks. Such relief will not only save your budget but will free up resources for higher quality creative work for your employees.
- Centralize and automate work communication
Jira, Trello, inbuilt work chats, task boards with commentaries, and personalized notifications – all these functions allow you to reduce the time to search for information and clarify urgent tasks. You can set up notifications and reminders for your employees, send ready-to-use onboarding texts and instructions to newbies, tag your colleagues in any task, where you need their involvement or help, and so on and so forth. Get rid of dozens of different chats in different messengers, group calls, and meetings in third-party services. Keep everything on your “territory”. And that’s not only about efficient communication but also about security – you can keep sensitive information inside your system.
Our experience of implementing full automation from a scratch
One of our cases, America Sober, was a great example of such full automation in our experience. This noble and humane project of a network of sober houses in the USA was struggling with an overcomplicated structure with old-fashioned UI and absolutely did not set up an accounting system.
Their Excel-based client databases and poor application form didn’t give necessary information about customers. Business management was forced to spend too much time searching and compiling information about their tenants. Some notes from a phone call, info from the application form, doctor’s notes, prescriptions for drugs, notes from mentors, billing information, and billing notices – all this information were scattered over the various sources.
We developed a modern website, created a full-fledged and detailed CRM for adding, editing, and analyzing data about each customer of each sober house in a system, and connected systems to automate payments and application processes. We created an efficient framework, where all information could be compiled.
In fact, after implementing this system for a network of four sober houses, we were invited to develop a similar, but much bigger USA-wide system with extended functionality for sober houses and their associations. More about this case read on our website. About the results of implementing the first version of our automation system for sober houses in Boston in numbers, read in our article about how to increase company efficiency by $45 000 and 90 hours a month.