When you run a business, you learn quickly that productivity is one of the primary keys to being successful. It’s just simple arithmetic. When you do more with the time you’re given you’ll increase the rate that revenue comes in. These days, a lot of the focus of increased productivity is being turned on business automation. That is, creating a way for common tasks and processes to be performed without human labor.
The history of business over the past few hundred years has told this story time and again. From replaceable parts to the assembly line to computerized logistics, boosting productivity and efficiency ultimately boosts revenue.
And this is true whether you’re a giant enterprise or a sole proprietorship. Doing more with your time means you have more time, regardless of anything else. But what are the ways that any business can increase their productivity to become more efficient?
There are common business functions that you must perform regularly regardless if you’re a local dentist, an international car manufacturer or anything in between. Accounting, marketing, customer service, sales — these are all necessary functions of business that can keep legions of workers busy.
Focus on Automating Existing Processes
You’re probably familiar with images of those big robotic arms used on assembly lines in factories. Robots have been used in manufacturing for a long time now, and that’s because the tasks they were designed to perform were relatively easy to automate.
When you’re looking to increase the productivity and efficiency of your business, the first things you should consider are all the various tasks that must be performed for it to operate. If you don’t already have one, make a list the processes.
Later, as you go down the list make note of how complex each process and what is required to do it. The processes you find that are relatively simple, repetitive and that must be completed on a regular basis are prime targets for automation.
Updating spreadsheets, paying invoices and posting to social media can all benefit from computerized automation to free up the time for you or your employees. Often, automating processes will also have a benefit of reducing mistakes, particularly in tasks that rely heavily on data entry.
Marketing Technology Tools
All businesses need marketing of some sort. Without it, you may as well be crossing a dangerous wilderness with no map or compass. Not having a marketing plan is essentially planning to fail.
And marketing isn’t just about big visions and catchy jargon. There’s a lot of day-to-day grinding that comes along with it. Compiling data for reports, posting to social media, emailing influencers and doing customer research — good marketing takes a lot of work.
And that’s where marketing technology comes in. Tools like HubSpot and Hootsuite simplify your digital marketing efforts and allow a single person to accomplish what would have taken an entire team of people less than a generation ago.
Automated Payment Systems
Accounting is a crucial part of any business. In the old days, the sheer amount of paperwork required for accounts payable and receivable functions required whole departments of workers. These days, those same tasks can be performed by far fewer workers.
With the advent of electronic billing and documentation, many processes within your accounting department are now also ripe for automation. Recurring billing, automatic payments and creating purchase orders can now be accomplished with automation software.
When you automate specific processes like billing, you cut down on the time you or your employees must spend on repetitive busywork. Because of the fewer clerical errors that result from automating mundane accounting tasks, the time spent correcting them is also lessened.
Customer Response Management
For many businesses, customer service has long been a necessary evil that requires significant investment without a guarantee that will actually offer a decent return on the investment. That has made it ripe for automation over the years.
In truth, even without a drive for increased efficiency from bottom-line obsessed business leaders, customer service would still require help due to the sheer number of customers that commonly call or write.
Automated voice systems and chatbots are just two of the ways that businesses have turned to automation to ease the burden and increase the efficiency of customer service operations. Technologies like these have allowed human workers to assist more people during the course of their day.
How Should You Approach Automation to Increase Efficiency?
It should be clear that automation is continuing a trend in business that has been under way for hundreds of years. Your business’ ability to harness it properly will have a direct impact on your productivity and therefore your bottom line.
When you consider the different functions in your business that could be automated, you should also consider how the change in workforce roles will affect it. Automation allows you to run a leaner and more efficient business, but how that plays out is up to you.