Automation has traditionally referred to replacing people on an assembly line with machines and especially robots. However, artificial intelligence and other advances in technology have made automation possible for a wide range of processes. It has also made process automation an option for small businesses, regardless of what type of business you’re in. Still, you may be reluctant to make changes to core business processes and want to know why automating them would be beneficial. Here are a few reasons why process automation is essential for your small business.
It Can Lower Overhead Costs
Ecommerce and marketing automation can help you save money. You’ll be able to automatically collect information on new customers and their buying habits. You’ll also be able to do things like automatically sending customers emails thanking them for their order and informing them of when it has shipped, for instance.
Email marketing software and customer relationship management systems are designed to work together seamlessly, allowing you to send personalized marketing content to customers based on their profile. You could take things to the next level by setting up chatbots to assist customers browsing your site or in need of assistance. Chatbots can provide 24×7 customer service for just a few hundred dollars a month. That is a fraction of the cost of hiring someone full-time to do it.
Automating internal processes often facilitates remote workers. It may allow your team to go completely virtual. That lets you save money on overhead expenses. Furthermore, it generally allows people to work from home though they’ll collaborate better than if they were in a traditional office. Alternatively, you could hire contractors to do specific tasks rather than hiring additional full-time employees. Automated systems allow managers to keep track of each aspect of a given project. They’ll be able to communicate key dates and milestones, too.
It Can Improve Productivity
You're probably already using several automated tools for customer relationship management and IT support. These applications allow your team to access information anywhere and readily share it with the rest of the team which improves productivity.
The ability to log in and resolve an issue minimizes delays and improves customer satisfaction, too. Automated systems for collecting customer information can eliminate the need for data entry specialists. They don’t have to lose their jobs. Instead, they could move into customer support or software testing.
All you have to do is outline the workflow that should be followed for a given task. Everything that can be automated can be tied into the automated workflow such as transferring data, printing reports, or creating accounts. Work that has to be done by a human can be handled by sending them an email or job assignment. When they complete it, the system is updated and triggers the next event in the workflow. That is true no matter which workflow app you use.
Once the initial setup is complete, the process automation may save you several hours a day. Now you can spend more money working on projects for your clients rather than managing accounts. For larger businesses, business process automation allows you to get more done with the same headcount. You could even handle more work without having to hire more people.
If you want to know more about workflow automation tools, SetApp has a list of workflow apps you can choose from. They showcase apps for everything from file synchronizations and backups to cleaning your desktop to managing your money. They also have apps that make it easy to track your billable hours and invoice your clients.
It Reduces the Potential for Errors
Business process automation allows you to streamline process workflows. Furthermore, automation may significantly reduce the odds of errors. When data flows automatically from one database to another, you don't have to worry about someone making typographical errors or omissions when they're entering the information. You should integrate your eCommerce website with your inventory management system for this very reason. The product data gets updated in real-time. Furthermore, it will update availability information. That minimizes the number of back orders or canceled orders you'll have to deal with.
Automating the release of jobs and performing backups ensures that the task is done and completed according to predefined processes. Automated workflows in human resources ensure that every necessary task is completed. For example, a new employee onboarding system may feed the new hire's data to payroll while IT gets a checklist of accounts to set up. This minimizes the potential for mistakes since there is no guesswork about what needs to be done.
These systems often allow employees to make corrections that automatically update the connected databases, as well. HR staff is freed up to deal with the human side of human resources and complex problems that cannot be automated.
It Makes It Easier to Adapt to Changing Market Conditions
If business process automation allows you to get more work done with fewer people, you are less likely to need to hire more people when there is a spike in customer orders. When you do need to hire new people, they can be trained that much faster because they don’t need to learn how to do the processes you’ve automated.
Let the system manage inventory, process orders, and handle payments. When the process needs to change, you simply need to update your workflows. You may not need to retrain everyone on the team either.
The Data Allows You to Make Better Decisions
Automated systems automatically collect information about your business. The data collected by automated systems often allows you to optimize resource allocation.
For example, you might be able to use the data to make sure team members are working on the right projects or mission-critical tasks. You should be able to use these systems to see who is overloaded and who is under-utilized. Then you can reassign people who are sitting on the bench instead of letting them sit idle. This may reduce how much overtime you ask anyone to work.
Marketing automation allows you to significantly improve the return on the money you invest in marketing. Know immediately the success rate of each digital marketing campaign. You could implement programmatic ad buying and audience targeting as products are rolled out. Your customer relationship management system could tie into your eCommerce website to recommend products to consumers. This increases overall sales.
Business process automation is essential for small businesses that want to remain in business. However, you need to know how any particular tool will benefit the company before you implement it.