Boriana Valentinova

work smarter

Work smarter, hot harder – automate your growth

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 spending 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 set of functions. Traditionally we structured business processes 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 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. For example, Order-to-Cash, Service-to-Satisfaction or Hire-to-Retire. So, when selecting a service provider, specify in your requirements that you are looking for a holistic, cross-departmental solution.

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.

You can digitise those by converting 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 the status to keep your team on track. It is a more innovative way to avoid working longer or harder with the increased workload.

Such automation brings considerable benefits in reducing process time, increasing productivity, helping eliminate potential human error and making 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.

2. CRM

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.

Digitalising 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 can provide efficient value-adding customer service.

CRM boosts productivity despite the 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 a business’s competitiveness.

3. Accounting

Automating accounting processes is probably one of the most neglected initiatives in the early stages of a business. We tend to leave those processes manual and handle them by filling in spreadsheets we send by email to an accountant. Then they do 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.

Digitalising accounting is not a complicated or expensive initiative (it is one of the most cost-effective process automation). Automated accounting is an intelligent way to reduce repetitive and transactional work. At the same time, it will save a lot of trouble with missing turnaround, tax payment and cash flow forecasts. And significantly will cut paper usage and printing. In addition, you could further enhance it by incorporating an electronic signature feature and online contract signing. Work smarter!

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. Nevertheless, a cloud-based all-in-one HR platform will make managing employees’ onboarding, wages, and insurance easier. 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. Of course, 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 in terms of cash flow and 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, and 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. In addition, there are online benchmark places like G2 where you can find reviews on software and features comparison. You shouldn’t be looking for one 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. If you need further integrations, use solutions like Zapier. Grow your business; work smarter, not harder.