Using Automation to Streamline Workflow

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The road to simplicity is paved with algorithms.

How Do You Use Your Time?

According to a study from the McKinsey Global Institute1, up to 45% of all workplace activities in the US can be automated with technology we have now.

Business leaders and entrepreneurs know that one of your most valuable resources, if not the most valuable, is time. Many are notoriously stingy with it: Bill Gates is just one famous example, known for taking it to an extreme and scheduling his time in 5-minute blocks2. Ask any successful person what they hold most important, and they’re likely to tell you the same.

Thankfully, automation can help you repartition your time and spend your energy where it matters most.

A Better Way

Most businesses have several tasks that need to be completed daily, weekly, or monthly: automation can complete many of these in the background, leaving you the important decisions that machine learning software or other tools cannot make (and saving you from several mundane tasks in the process).

Take an example from working with big data sets.

It might take someone hours to create a manual report, whereas a piece of software can instantaneously create the same report for a client. All of us make mistakes, whereas computers do not have the same potential for error. Ease of repeatability in this case can also lead to greater insights and increased value to the customer through the use of queries and conditions.

This is just one common example of automation used today. Companies such as IBM are leading the way to even more possibilities with research into A.I. and machine learning and, though still in its early stages, innovations like their cognitive automation software may bring us to a future limited only by our imagination.

Your Solution, Piece by Piece

But let’s take a step back.

Endless speculation can be made about the future of automation, but right now it still has incredible power to completely change your workflow.

Fully comprehensive solutions are available for many aspects of business, but (at least at this point) it’s usually quicker and cheaper to automate pieces of your workflow where it most makes sense and would return the greatest benefit.

The following are tools that you can use today to simplify your workflow and achieve better performance.

Streamline Your Process Management

You may be using a program such as Basecamp or Trello already.

Rather than switch to a completely different project management system, you can use Process Street to add greater functionality and streamline your workflow. This software isn’t just compatible with the two programs listed above, but integrates with over a thousand applications that automatically update as you use Process Street: from file-hosting services to email and more.

In best-case use, their process templates drastically limit the amount of manual data entry you have to make. Conditional logic allows the creation of adaptive checklists that you can automatically assign to your team on a schedule you set, and a unified dashboard lets you to keep track of all activity and progress across platforms.

There’s even a free version of the software may meet your needs, depending on the size of your business.

Achieve Better Sales and Marketing Results

Sales automation is a great next step, especially considering that a majority conduct most of their prospecting and sales online.

Most companies engaged in marketing of any form have already implemented automation, and of those who have a vast majority consider it very important to their success. Conservation of time and increased sales are just some of the stated benefits.3

Outreach is perhaps the most complete marketing automation solution currently available. It identifies leads and keeps track of everything from the first email to demo to final sale, and intelligent analytics help you to make the best move and even know when to make it. With much of prospecting’s manual and repetitive work automated, you can spend more time meeting with future customers.

A simpler solution popular with small business owners, Hatchbucks makes it easy to created targeted email campaigns, view lead behavior in real-time, and determine the effectiveness of a campaign (or where it might need to change).

Marketing automation expands beyond the inbox, but it remains one of the easiest ways to reach people and one of the best with high ROI and more opportunities for engagement.4

Benefits for Employer and Employee

Payroll processing is another candidate for automation.

For the business owner, tax calculation, filing, and payment services provided by many payroll processing companies such as Paychex allow you to focus on more important things- your service and your clients. If you decide to do the taxes by yourself and make a mistake, you will be liable to pay the subsequent (and often very large) fines.

The company also offers services for better human resource management, including automated renewal into important programs and reports on compensation and benefits. Rather than cashing checks, many employees (and employers) appreciate direct depositing of paychecks on a regular schedule.

Depending on the size of your business and how much you wish to pay, more complete solutions are offered. Their excellent customer service will be happy to help you get started and decide which options provide the most benefit to you.

The Road to Simplicity (and More)

Over half of companies in marketing believe that automation is difficult5, but it doesn’t need to be.

Automation can be easily implemented into your workflow and return nearly innumerable benefits in many situations. As more research and innovations are made, it will become an increasingly important part of business with incredible potential to change the way people work.

All that’s left for you to decide is what to do with it. 

Thomas Albritton

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