The greatest resource a small business has is time. This means that every minute (or even second) spend on a low-value or repetitive task is time wasted. The solution that is becoming increasingly more accessible to businesses of all shapes and sizes is process automation.
We spoke to some small businesses with experience in IT – namely TechQuarters, a London-based organization providing business IT support London based small businesses (like themselves) have used extensively in the past to become more efficient and productive. We asked them about process automation, and they had a lot to say about it.
What is Process Automation?
Firstly, it’s worth being clear on what exactly process automation is. In simple terms, it’s the use of machines for completing tasks and processes. With the amount of work that takes place entirely on computers, apps and the internet, it’s very easy to automate workflows. Any process on a computer is simply a series of actions and triggers that a machine can be programmed to recognize and execute without the input of a human user.
What Are The Benefits?
There are lots of benefits to using process automation in an organization. According to TechQuarters, who have experience with this from supporting their clients, small businesses in particular have a lot to gain from implementing the technology.
Make Time for Staff
As we mentioned earlier, time is money for a small business, and a minute saved is a minute earned. Most people would be surprised by how much time small tasks can add up to. Using automation to free up the time of staff means they can spend that time elsewhere – thus, the overall productivity of the business increases.
Eliminate Human Error
Everyone makes mistakes, and the risk of a mistake being made increases the longer someone spends on repetitive tasks. On the other hand, a machine is capable of executing a task or process without error every single time – it follows the rules that were programmed and never loses focus, gets distracted, or deviates from the task at hand.
Data-driven Decision Making
Automation can be applied to all kinds of activities. This a great example of the collection and compilation of data, which can be a time-consuming process when done manually. The software can easily be programmed to automatically collect and organize new data according to criteria, thus businesses have ready access to well-organized, valuable data.
Examples of Process Automation
- Lead and Contact Management
A great example of automation that has been in use a lot over the years is the use of CRM automation. Many customer relationship management systems nowadays have the ability to automate the collection and transmission of data, for example from sign-up forms on a company website. TechQuarters, who are experienced Office 365 consultancy experts, suggest Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CRM automation.
- Email Marketing
One of the most valuable and (proven to be) successful forms of marketing is email marketing. The ability to send a personalized email to contacts is very good for building brand awareness and reputation – however, it can take a lot of work. But, with automated email marketing can allow businesses to schedule emails – such as welcome emails, sign-up anniversary emails, etc. – to be sent to customers and contacts automatically.
- Social Media
Yet another hugely valuable (and entirely free) form of marketing is social media marketing. However, once again, it can be a big undertaking. Thankfully, a lot of social media marketing systems are available with automation capabilities. Examples of social media automation include scheduling posts to go out automatically, but there are other capabilities too. For example, social media management can be made to detect when your brand is mentioned and automatically notify you. Another example of social media automation is the management of ads on social platforms.