How Automation Can Streamline Your Business

automation can streamline

We all face repetitive tasks that drive us up the wall, destroying our productivity and adding to our daily stress as business managers. Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can outsource those repetitive tasks to a 3rd party. Of course, that takes money you might not have. So, what’s a company manager to do? Automation can streamline most repetitive business operations, alleviating stress and improving productivity at a fraction of the cost of outsourcing and with much less disruption than tackling these dreaded tasks yourself.

automation can streamline
Photo by Zan on Unsplash

In this post, we take a look at some of the ways automation can streamline your business, relieving you and your business of all of its most hated tasks. Read on to learn more.

Automation can streamline many tasks

When you introduce automation to support repetitive business tasks, it takes a little time and effort to do the initial setup but the time you save by automating these tasks is well worth the time and effort. It’s like cleaning out the garage or a little used closet–things are messier before they become more organized. So, buckle up for the ride and anticipate that things get worse right before they get better and you’ll be mentally prepared for the effort.

Of course, outsourcing is an alternative, as well. But outsourcing your dreaded, repetitive tasks is expensive and you lose control over the process. If the process is integral to your success, this loss of control puts you at the mercy of the firm you outsource to. If they fail, you might fail, too. Court filings are replete with examples of 3rd party vendors who failed to file client forms on time, generating penalties for the company, absconding with company funds, filing bankruptcy which tied up your corporate documents and funds until the courts sorted things out, or other problems that negatively affected your business.

Automation can streamline these tasks without the high cost or loss of control. With automation, changes you want to implement go at your pace and, for the most part, you can easily switch between automation tools without a financial penalty.

Better yet, some automation tools are tailored to meet the specific needs of your business or industry. For example, Ollie automation software is an excellent tool for streamlining operations for breweries, all without compromising on functionality or control. The comprehensive brewery automation tool is also user-friendly and cost-effective.

Below are some examples of how automation can streamline tasks to make your business more productive.

Social media automation

In today’s digital world, social media isn’t an option, it’s mandatory for almost every business. Yet, social media success is highly dependent on producing a stream of content on a consistent basis. Most companies use multiple social media platforms to enable them to reach more of their target market, offer content in a format that their market prefers, and provide a frequency that supports their marketing goals without overwhelming their target market. Below, you can see the optimal schedule for posting content to the various social media platforms.

concepts for digital marketing
Image courtesy of Louise M

Each platform also features the best time to publish, which varies based on the platform and your target market. Moreover, you need to stagger your posts, when publishing multiple posts per day. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out that stopping what you’re working on at the optimal posting time for each platform throughout the day isn’t sustainable. You might need to stop a meeting to publish or interrupt a complex task. Returning to the task after posting isn’t as simple as switching screens. It means a wasted mental effort to switch to a new task, with the accompanying loss of concentration and wasted effort.

But, don’t fret. You can find a number of social media and content automation tools to fit your needs and budget from free to $100/ month for small businesses. Choosing the right tools depends on which bells and whistles you’re willing to pay for, how many social media platforms you use on a regular basis, and your budget. I use Buffer and find it provides much of what I need when it comes to automation for a reasonable price.

This type of automation can streamline your social media strategy by allowing you to schedule posts based on your market (and Buffer, as well as other automation tools, helps identify when you should post based on past performance). Once you set the schedule, you can create any number of posts that then go out according to that schedule. You can easily craft an entire month of posts in short order, then forget this task for another month. Just don’t forget to monitor the performance of your posts to optimize your future strategy and to change posts based on major events. For instance, on Sept 11, when the planes took out the Twin Towers in NY, it seemed insensitive for brands to continue with originally scheduled social media posts promoting their brands and events. The same would be true if you receive negative public relations.

Automate your analytics

Monitoring the performance of your digital marketing campaigns is the key to improving performance. Yet, it’s time-consuming to scroll through reports every day. Instead, you can automate your analytics by developing dashboards that bring together key metrics you should monitor daily. Further, you can use a visualization tool such as Tableau to transform these metrics into data visualizations that you can interpret at a glance.

Applicant screening

Sure, right now businesses face a glut of applicants for their positions as unemployment hits record lows. But, that’s not the norm.

Instead, businesses commonly face a large applicant pool for a limited number of jobs. Screening all these candidates is time-consuming but, if not given sufficient attention, you might miss a highly qualified applicant that might transform your business.

To manage this task, several tools use AI (artificial intelligence) to screen every applicant for the right combination of experience, education, and skills you request. Once the tools delete a large number of applicants without the right resume, they deliver a select pool of qualified candidates for you to evaluate.

Automate receipts

Businesses have to keep receipts of all their expenses to prepare financial statements, tax filings, and so the taxman can audit them if requested. Unfortunately, keeping all these paper and digital receipts in a file and then entering them manually into accounting software isn’t a lot of fun. It’s the last thing you want to do on a Friday night after everyone else has gone home.

The trick here is to use technology to automate receipt entry. These days, clever software lets you take a picture of a receipt, categorize all the details, and automatically enter an expense into your accounts. This way, you don’t have to go through the laborious task of entering data ever again.

Reduce false security alarms

False alarms come from every source imaginable from accidentally triggering the alarm, such as when an employee burns popcorn in the microwave, to deliberate attempts to disrupt your business, to power fluctuations. Responding to every security event gets tiring. After a while, you become apathetic and don’t respond with urgency when an alarm sounds. The same happens when a digital alarm is triggered by an attempted breach of your company firewall.

Of course, security is a real issue in many businesses. Breaches occur all the time, so this dynamic is troubling.

The trick here is to leverage technology. Some owners invest in a commercial security system for my business that has smart software onboard. Instead of just reacting to sensor inputs, the system determines whether your business is facing a real threat or not, using additional data. Stray cats won’t set it off, but people wearing balaclavas climbing over your back gate will.

Automating lead generation

Using an automated email sequence to send email messages based on prior actions performed by a subscriber or a group of subscribers is called lead generation. Sure, you might reach out to subscribers with an email message but that runs the risk of forgetting to send the message out to one or more subscribers. Sending messages without first segmenting your list runs the risk of sending irrelevant messages to the list.

Instead, automation can streamline your lead generation. Create a series of emails for a particular group of subscribers to encourage them toward conversion. With some tools, like Salesforce, you can automatically determine the right message from this series based on the actions, or lack of action, produced by the subscriber to prior marketing efforts. This generates an appropriate message for each subscriber based on the information available.

Automate payroll

Figuring out staff salaries and taxes is challenging. If you’re not an accountant, rules change, and employees update their tax status constantly. It can take hours every month to prepare payroll. That’s not what you want.

The good news is this: there may be a way around it.

How?

Again, it all comes back to software. Many modern business accounting solutions can figure out payroll for you. Plus, because they are cloud-based, developers automatically update them over time. This means that it will take a lot less time to do your payroll, freeing you up for other tasks, many of which are more enjoyable.

Conclusion

So there you have it: some of the ways you can automate your most-hated business tasks. Which will you try?

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