Automating business functions no longer belongs in the realm of giant corporations alone. Almost any startup or small enterprise can take advantage of the tools and services that can help boost overall productivity. That is because many startups are also offering automation targeting SMBs.
If you are seeking to apply it in your business, you may want to start by focusing on one function first. Test a program or service provider to see how it will affect productivity and your bottom line. Then determine how you can add more value to your organization through automation. Here are 7 areas to consider if you want to give it a try:
Accounting and financial processes
With a dedicated program to record your business’ financial transactions, you will be able to minimize human errors. You can automate such processes as the tracking of expenses, payment of bills, and even invoicing. The system also promotes accurate reporting, timely settlement of payables and collection of receivables, and compliance with legislation. Shaving a few good hours off your daily grind can have a significant effect on your decision making and labor costing by the end of the year. If letting software manage your books seems iffy, start with the kind that allows human input in complex processes.
For starters, this area has a lot of moving parts. Whether you have a large, midsize, or small team taking care of your digital marketing efforts, you can leverage existing technologies to boost productivity and pad the bottom line. Some examples would be InfusionSoft for lead capture and follow-up, Spokal for inbound marketing, and Needls for digital presence and outreach. You may opt for a more expensive yet organized, all-in-one solution or a combination of individual tools and services. It depends on your needs, priorities, and budget.
Client or customer communication
When it comes to dealing with email marketing, there are many reliable service providers out there. And depending on your size and client base, you can choose one or combine a few of them. Each of them offers automation features based on customer data such as their preference and behavior.
This aspect needs a lot of attention especially if your work is location-independent. In addition, you have to encourage free flow of ideas, immediate feedback, and transparency among collaborators. When shopping for options, factor in the interface, features, and integration capabilities alongside the price. Slack is a popular choice among remote teams. It has brought instant messaging to a new level. Sometimes, users come from different countries and work in different time zones. But the app makes sure all concerned do not miss a beat. Meanwhile, although they can be clunky at times, Skype and Google Hangouts are also good alternatives.
Analytics and other reporting tasks
Consolidating data does not have to be tedious and repetitive. Good thing there are existing tools for organizing and extracting data based on campaigns. Some even allow sophisticated reporting including beautiful data visualization. Aside from impressing their boss — that’s you — your employees can minimize human error due to the cut-and-paste process. They will also stop wasting their time.
Social media management
With every private person you know posting on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter regularly, you might think that social media is easy to manage. However, the game is different when you are trying to drive engagement and expand reach, raise brand awareness, and deal with customer feedback in the digital space. Fortunately, there are platforms and solutions that can help unburden your social media management team. For instance, SproutSocial not only automates post scheduling but also ensures content is pushed on social media to the right audience and at the right time.
Preventive maintenance plan
Say goodbye to manual tools like spreadsheets in scheduling and tracking the components of your preventive maintenance plan. According to Limble CMMS, on average, maintenance managers spend two days on data entry each week. That adds up to more than 800 hours per manager each year. Avoid incurring that loss with a computerized maintenance management system or CMMS. Through this software, maintenance managers as well as technicians can monitor and forecast maintenance dates, tasks, technician schedules, repair reports, and inventory needs through computers and mobile devices. Typically, CMMS also reduces maintenance costs and brings return on investment in about 3 months.