Automation is the wave of the future, taking small businesses to great heights by adding an element of multi-tasking without sacrificing quality and attention. For solopreneurs and small business owners, the introduction of technology that can help them automate parts of their business creates the opportunity for passive income and opens time to focus on things that matter.
Employees will see the benefits of automation in business as well, despite the controversies surrounding this topic of discussion. Here are some of the business automation upgrades your employees will thank you for.
No matter which way you slice it, scheduling is a point of contention for both employees and employers. This is especially true for a workplace that has shifts or seasonality to their business. Throw in vacation time, and you’ve got yourself a time-consuming mess. Errors mean employees get double-booked, or you lack enough staff for busy periods.
Business automation through smart scheduling will change this. There are a variety of scheduling packages at this website that look at everything from availability to mobile notifications. You can get smart scheduling software that gives employees the power to submit their shift change requests to a centralized location for tracking, and even have everything integrate with your payroll program for a streamlined approach. Smart scheduling can give you analytics about busy periods and automate the process so that employers can focus their time and attention elsewhere.
Resources are limited in a business, and even something as simple as answering easy questions asked by customers online can be time-consuming and distracting. Chatbots are one form of automation that your employees will be grateful for.
Most organizations use chatbots to answer simple questions or capture information before an issue is escalated. This shortens the time human employees have to invest in finding information and offering a solution. As a result, it shortens wait times for those who have a customer service line where people have historically sat on hold until the elevator music got stuck in their heads.
Invoicing and Accounting
The invoicing and accounting processes within an organization can be tedious. If you’re not on the ball, it’s all too easy to miss invoicing a client, reducing cash flow and making for nightmares at tax time. The solution to this is to automate as much as possible.
Rather than having an employee generate individual invoices, use an invoice template and have them auto-populate from your accounting system. Taking a centralized approach also ensures that you have ample tracking protocols in place for month-end and year-end accounting.
There are also various accounting functions that can be automated as well. Having statements that automatically populate and tax preparation documents that pull from the various income and expense inputs you’ve put together eliminate the need for late nights at the office during reporting seasons.
Whether you have a marketing team or a single social media manager running the show, automation is a must for social media. That’s right: even with someone dedicated to the task of managing your social media, automation is a must.
Apps like Buffer and Hootsuite create a centralized database for tracking the various channels through which you reach your customers, and they reach you. They can send notifications when there’s something you need to address, rather than having five or more tabs open at all time. By scheduling things in advance with automated posting, you ensure that there are no gaps in the schedule and that things are getting posted when they’ll be seen.
To date, Facebook is the only social media platform that gives you a scheduling option within the website itself. All of the others require manual posting unless you have a social media management app in place.
Cloud sharing isn’t something one would traditionally think of when considering automation within a business. To make that connection, you need to think about how things were done before. If you needed a file from accounting, you’d have to go to that person and ask for the file or dig through a cabinet. If it was a document someone had on their computer or one that you had lost in the email tsunami that is most business email accounts, you’d have to email to ask.
What’s the problem with this approach? What if the person is away from their computer and you need that document right away? What if they’re on vacation and won’t be back for two weeks after your deadline?
Cloud-based platforms like G Suite and Dropbox are a form of automation. You can click a button to request sharing access that will go to someone’s mobile device. They can click a button, and you will receive that document. By having things saved on a shared network, you reduce the time-frame of receiving things, can work on live documents rather than figuring out which version is most recent, and reduce the email back and forth.
Email has always been a huge time-suck in business. The average worker spends 28% of their time on email. There’s even a calculator to let you know how many times you could have climbed Mount Everest or read all of the Harry Potter books this year if you hadn’t been on email.
Email sorting applications, like the one built into Gmail or a more sophisticated add-on like Sanebox acts like an old-fashioned mail sorter, keeping your flyers apart from your cash-filled birthday cards from doting aunts. They can be set up so that emails you haven’t responded to from a co-worker appear back at the top of your list after a few days or you can receive a daily digest of important emails to read. Your employees will thank you for reducing this stressor in their daily life, and your bottom line will thank you as a result of the productivity boost.
Automate to be Great
Finding ways to automate your business will give you and your employees more time to put your best selves forward in the areas of your business that require a human touch. Use this time to go find more customers, get more client work done, and make more money!