How can you work smarter with the increasing workload when you scale your business without working harder? How can you cost-effectively do that and not drive spendings through the roof? By automating your processes. Let’s start by understanding two essential components when automating a growing business: processes and project work.
Business processes are steps performed by people to achieve a specific goal. Mainly, each step in a business process means a task or sets of functions. Traditionally business processes were structured into departments. However, we are breaking the departmental silos and working with cross- or end-to-end processes.
Project work used to be exception-to-the-rule-way-of-working. Most activities were department-based and continuous. But, the fast-evolving life and work rhythm and ever-changing market scenarios claim for frequent changes, updates and shorter time to market. Consequently, project work with beginning and end milestones is becoming the new unwritten rule for efficient workflows.
Why is this important to keep in mind? Because many software solutions which could automate increasing workload, continue being departmentally centred. Only a few are flexible and scalable enough to englobe cross-processes and projects and offer 360ª transparency. Like for example, Order-to-Cash, Service-to-Satisfaction or Hire-to-Retire. So, when you select a service provider, in your requirements specify that the scope you are loking for is holistic.
1. Project management workflow
Workflow is the sequence of activities through which a task passes from initiation to completion. Project workflow is the sequence of activities required to plan, execute and follow up on project completion.
Digitalizing those means to convert manual activities such as sending emails, uploading information or preparing presentations for approval into electronic print and on a shared platform accessed by everyone. Project workflow automation platforms also send alerts or automatically update status to keep your team on track. It is a smarter way to avoid having to work longer or harder with the increased workload.
Automating these workflows brings considerable benefits in reducing process time, increases productivity, helps eliminate potential human error and makes procedures more efficient and fast. Besides, it offers 100% visibility of everybody’s work and allows immediate decision making as the project advances through its phases.
CRM is probably the essential solution for happy clients and happy employees because it is a system that helps manage customer data. It supports sales management, assists with data insights. Some CRM’s can integrate with email marketing platforms, ticket management systems and social media. Also, they facilitate communication and cross-functional work. Cloud-based CRM systems offer complete mobility because of remote access.
Digitalizing your customer processes with a CRM from the early stages of your business will bring two significant wins: swift reaction to customer demand and inquiries, and access to relevant customer data. Besides, employees value fast, reliable and hassle-free processes because they are usually praised for efficient value-added customer service.
CRM boosts productivity despite the initial extra time and standardization needed to incorporate processes into the system. But primarily, it brings speed in response to the market, which is crucial for businesses competitiveness.
Automating accounting processes is probably one of the most neglected initiatives in the early stages of a business. And that is because it is not seen as a directly value-adding activity. We tend to leave those processes manual and handle them by filling in spreadsheets we send by email to an accountant. Then he/she does the magic. It isn’t until you suddenly notice you don’t get paid, get a huge tax bill or an angry customer complaining about a wrong charge.
Digitalizing accounting is not a complicated or expensive initiative (it is one of the most cost-effective process automation). An automated accounting process is a smart way to reduce repetitive and transactional work. At the same time, it will save a lot of trouble with a missing turnaround, tax payment and cash flow forecasts. And significantly will cut on using paper and printing. It could be further enhanced to manage electronic agreements.
4. Human Resource portal
It doesn’t matter how much you automate processes; you will always need a team of qualified and trustworthy employees. Retaining them is a good idea in today’s competitive talent market. Still, human resource processes are not considered a priority when we digitalize. Nevertheless, a cloud-based all-in-one HR platform will make it easier for you to manage employees onboarding, wages, and insurance. It will save you time and effort and offers transparency to the employees who want to track their payroll, benefits and learning opportunities. HR portal will also process automated requests and approvals and even travelling expenses.
You can achieve all this automation by subcontracting service providers. Depending on the size of your company (typically the number of employees), the budget will vary. But in any case, going digital with these processes brings enormous savings, not only in terms of cash flow but also in speed, productivity and quality levels. And above all, such automation will allow you to focus on activities that directly affect the growth of your business. Such as marketing and sales, product/service development, talent attraction. So automate smarter, reduce the hard work and focus on generating value for the future.
There are many good solution providers for almost any process automation. It is a competitive market, and the benchmarking of who is the best changes almost daily. Also, recommendations tend to be biased because what works for me might not work for you. Luckily there are online benchmark places like G2 where you can find reviews on software and features comparison. You shouldn’t be looking for one single software to automate all your company processes under the same umbrella. Because that would mean having to standardize in excess and drive operations to be inflexible and difficult to scale, so automate instead with customizable and scalable software, and if you need further integrations, use solutions like Zapier. Grow your business; work smarter, not harder.