You’ve hired the best candidates, sharpened your marketing to target customers more accurately, and taken the first steps on ambitious product projects. But if you still find your business struggling to grow and innovate, there’s a problem you may have overlooked: productivity-killing manual business processes. These essential but repetitive manual tasks take up time and attention that, with automation, can instead be devoted to truly business-critical activities.
Here are three reasons your business may be lagging behind its potential — and how automation can help.
- Too much time spent collecting data. Data is the lifeblood of any business, but manually collecting and analyzing information can quickly become overwhelming. Automated tools such as intake forms let you collect error-free, consistent, and organized data from across your business, while providing the visibility you need to make informed decisions.
- Approval processes take days (or even weeks). Major business decisions, such as opening new retail storefronts or hiring for a senior role, always deserve careful review before moving forward. But routine requests such as expense reporting, equipment purchases, and vacation scheduling can be quickly approved when they fall within established guidelines. These kinds of approvals are often delayed because approvers must wade through a backlog of email requests, not because they can’t decide whether to give the okay. With an automated process, you can reduce email churn and use conditional alerts to keep requests moving in a timely way.
- Friday mornings are spent reporting updates on Monday-through-Thursday accomplishments. It’s important for employees to keep managers, teammates, and direct reports up to date on their work, but doing so shouldn’t take time away from the work itself. Automated processes can instantly compile project updates and key results in real time. This frees up time for more meaningful work, and gives stakeholders immediate insight into how work is progressing. Not only can you save time by automating these essential tasks, you can do so with minimal investment in new software or skills.
Determine the Best Path Forward
Not sure where to start? Taking a team-based approach is often the best first step. Work with a single team or small group of people to identify the best processes for automation, such as setting up automated alerts for budget requests or collecting information for a weekly sales report. You can scale out your solution once you’ve fine-tuned it based on your experience.
Start by assessing the business tools that your organization is already using, then look for solutions that teams have acquired for specific projects or problems and which may also be useful for other departments. Consider implementing a work management platform that brings together the smart capabilities your teams have developed independently.
When your employees are freed from repetitive tasks, they can focus on the parts of their jobs that require careful thinking, innovation, and problem-solving — and that have the most potential to move your business forward. A small investment in automation tools and the time to master them can pay off handsomely in faster growth and greater revenue.