You\u2019ve 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\u2019s 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. \nHere are three reasons your business may be lagging behind its potential \u2014 and how automation can help.\n\n 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. \n 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\u2019t 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. \n Friday mornings are spent reporting updates on Monday-through-Thursday accomplishments. It\u2019s important for employees to keep managers, teammates, and direct reports up to date on their work, but doing so shouldn\u2019t 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. \n\nDetermine the Best Path Forward\nNot 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\u2019ve fine-tuned it based on your experience. \nStart 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.\nWhen your employees are freed from repetitive tasks, they can focus on the parts of their jobs that require careful thinking, innovation, and problem-solving \u2014 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.