The Top 5 Processes Every SME Should Automate Now!

Business automation has become a key part of driving success forwards and is no longer the preserve of big corporations.   With platforms such as AUTTO, small businesses can now afford to easily incorporate automation in every aspect of their business, leading to huge time and cost savings.   It can be quite confusing for small business owners to identify exactly which daily tasks should be automated. So, in this post, we explore our recommended top 5…

 

  1. Sales Completion 

Salespeople hate paperwork but heaps of forms are inherent when closing a deal. Documents such as:

  • Sales Agreements
  • Invoices
  • Client information gathering
  • Updating CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems can all be automated.

It transforms the sales process into a highly time-saving, more accurate and less laborious one for the team responsible.  This frees up their time and energy to do what they do best – sell more and grow your business.

 

  1. Managing Approvals

Automation cuts down on time spent seeking complicated approvals across the business. Getting approval for example for a PO over a certain amount or for a discount being offered to a client would usually require manual input from multiple people.  Each of these can hold up the time taken and make the process open to human error.  Automating this process makes it seamless, accurate and cuts time dramatically.

 

  1. Employee Onboarding

Taking on new staff is a time-intensive process for all and for the new employee, there is nothing worse than arriving for a new job, full of excitement than spending the first day filling out forms! Let automation handle the lot.

  • Employee contracts are created and signed digitally,
  • Processes are created to ensure all new hires have access to the passwords,
  • Keys and important files they need from day one
  • Automatic background checks, verifications and screenings.  This last one provides an important audit trail, vital particularly for those companies that have regulations. This leads us neatly onto…

 

  1. Audit Trail for Compliance

Many industries have regulations specific to them and must demonstrate compliance with certain processes – a lengthy and painful process. Automation takes the headache away by automatically providing an audit trail to prove compliance. At AUTTO, for example, we use our own software in-house to ensure and prove all new employees have had the information security training required to honour our ISO 27001 status.

 

  1. Information Gathering and Creating Reports

For organisations that need to gather and compound large amounts of data to produce bespoke reports for clients, automation will transform their business.  The time it would usually take to collect and collate info and create a relevant client document can be shortened dramatically with automation.  That frees up time to grow your business.  Small business consultancies, balance scorecards in the construction industry and talent management can for example all benefit from this.

 

So there it is – our top 5 automation suggestions.  If you’re interested in automating your business, talk to us now. We’d love to hear from you CONTACT US or sign up for our FREE TRIAL!

Automation in times of crisis: Lockdown requires creativity and a shift in the way we do business

As workers hunker down during lockdown and organisations scramble to continue to provide products and services to their customers, pundits whisper in the background that productivity is going to shrink, that businesses may close and the economy will take a hit. This is possible, but the businesses that thrive will be the ones that are nimble enough to quickly adjust and smart enough to do it efficiently.

It’s time to act quickly
This is a time of challenge, where remote working becomes the new norm and skeleton crews maintain vital on-site services. This means that companies need to quickly adjust to doing more with less. With less resources, less onsite employees, and possibly less customers. SMEs are in survival mode. Now, more than ever, is the time to quickly automate repetitive tasks, so staff can focus on everything else.

Lockdown requires creativity and a shift in the way we do business. With less resources than large corporations, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can be particularly vulnerable in times of economic uncertainty.

SMEs have agility on their side
However, SMEs can be agile in a way that larger corporations often can’t. They can make decisions and act on them quickly, shifting focus to fit new circumstances and changing customer needs.

One thing SMEs don’t have is excess staff. As staffing shrinks, employees are required to work differently, perhaps working off site, or in a different capacity. It becomes vital to discover ways to keep the lights on with less staff intervention.

Shifting staff focus
This is where business process automation can help. At AUTTO, we often talk about how micro-automation can affect small changes to make a big difference. This means automating the common actions, the actions that are similar in multiple business processes. These processes are often common and always predictable.

In times of crisis, the predictable becomes less common. Staff are called upon to address more variation in customer requests and more exceptions to traditional ways of working. It becomes even more important to automate all of the processes that can be automated so staff have the time and ability to look at the exceptions.

Choosing the right technology
This automation needs to be appropriate, useful and easy to deploy. Here’s a quick rundown of the elements needed to ensure a consistent experience for employees and customers alike:

The right technology: Ensure your staff have the tools they need to do their jobs as effectively and efficiently as possible. Ideally, these tools will be intuitive and easy to use without the need for lengthy training or additional skills. No-code automation is a vital part of this need.

Seamless access: Staff providing your services need to feel supported and engaged. Providing seamless access to the tools they need to do their jobs can help enable this. Cloud-based technology is vital to providing easy access, without the need for extra equipment, from anywhere with an internet connection.

Culture: Open lines of communication and greater staff visibility can help create a culture of collaboration and trust, improving employee morale and productivity. This can also help to create an inclusive environment for remote workers.

Business as usual: Understand that there is no “business as usual.” As this crisis ends and we return to more traditional ways of working, the systems we implement today could have far-reaching implications for the future of business.

If you would like advice on how to incorporate digital business automation into your firm, feel free to contact us at AUTTO.

The future of work

Will boring jobs eventually be eliminated?

Are parts of your job repetitive, mundane or dare I say it, boring? Are you suffering from boreout? Yes, it’s a thing. Boreout is a syndrome caused by mental under-stimulation in the workplace due to inadequately challenging tasks.

If you do suffer from boreout then you need not worry, because in time it’s likely that some parts of these jobs will be automated.

Any routine, repetitive task can be automated. Automation saves people time so that they have more time to spend with their customers, provide a better service, even sell more. If technology can take care of mundane, low-skill tasks, then people have the time to focus their attention on more challenging projects and other exciting activities. Menial tasks don’t spark joy. Tasks that require a person to stretch their intellectual capacity do. When you move out of your comfort zone, take on a challenging task and learn new things, then dopamine is released by your brain as a reward. Automation also reduces costs, so there’s more money available to come up with exciting new products and services. Creating and designing new products and services is a stimulating activity and will keep you engaged for longer.

Due to this, studies are showing that increased use of tech is increasing employee satisfaction and that people are starting to believe that AI is set to deliver more interesting jobs rather than create a threat of redundancy.

 

business documents on office table with smart phone and digital tablet and graph financial diagram and man working in the background

 

Recent research findings on the role of tech on employee engagement published in the Harvard Business Review show that 82% of employees believe that the performance of tech provided to them has a significant impact on their happiness at work. 77% of good employees may leave a job if they do not get access to the tech and tools that they need to do their jobs well. While 73% of young employees have much higher expectations for easy-to-use tech than older employees do.

What does this mean for the companies who invest in automation?

Businesses need to invest in their employees as much they invest in automation. The key here is to get humans and machines to work side by side. If employers can get this right it just might be the key to competitive advantage. Most importantly employers need to try create a culture where their employees have a sense of purpose, use their talents, feel autonomous and empowered to make decisions. Leaders need to create an environment where employees can speak their minds, offer their input and request the tools that they need to do things better. These things create happier employees and better engagement, ultimately creating the best environment for success. It’s essential that leaders convince their people of the benefits of automation and take them along on the journey. That way they are more likely to see technology as an enabler and not as a detractor.

In a post pandemic world, technology is the only way forward. Without it we would not be able to function virtually. Not being able to be in the same building anymore means that tech needs to provide a seamless, uninterrupted experience for remote workers. And with remote work comes a loss of connection, so employees want more access to their leaders and other colleagues. Forward thinking companies have already adapted to this way of work to support a distributed team, track and manage projects and provide and encourage team camaraderie through ongoing virtual activities.

Companies that embrace tech and provide stimulating and engaging work environments for their people will futureproof their businesses.

Contact us now to find out how we can help you get there.

Lockdown has taught us to be more connected, not less.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world this year, in particular businesses and their staff. This disruption has made businesses re-evaluate their processes and investigate technology that facilitates remote working. While some companies have struggled, others have quickly adapted to this new style of working.

Now more than ever, we’re more connected to our colleagues, prospects, customers and suppliers via cloud phone systems and communications. As cloud communication experts, we’ve been implementing software and tools to help our staff work efficiently. We’ve also helped advise businesses and supported them with our services to help them stay connected and better equipped in these scenarios. Here’s a few thoughts on what’s worked and what hasn’t.

The power of the phone

While today’s digital age has given us more options for how to communicate, the phone still remains the preferred method of communication for businesses. Often overlooked for video and live chat, being available by phone is crucial for business operations – whether you’re in the office or not.

This is where cloud phone systems have really come into their own during lockdown. Having access to systems like 3CX (a modern, software-based PBX) and Microsoft Teams helped make the transition to remote working easier and less disruptive. Having the ability to run audio meetings, make phone calls with a click of a button and send instant messages to one another has ensured that businesses are functioning normally, even when staff are working from their kitchen tables, bedrooms and living rooms.

Businessman hand using mobile phone with digital layer effect as business strategy concept

 

Unifying communications

Regularly communicating with colleagues is vital to keep a business up and running. We’ve found that combining strong unified communications platforms has helped both our staff and customers stay productive and connected with one another.

Platforms like Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack and Zoom have seen a significant rise this year but its Microsoft Teams which has seen the biggest growth, having hit 75 million global daily active users this year. It occupies a prominent space on the desktop and good integrations with other Microsoft products. Users also appreciate its familiar look and feel.

It hasn’t quite got the full feature set of a PBX but coupled with 3CX it’s a force to be reckoned with. Of course, if you’re happy with the built-in features and don’t need reporting or call recording then you should consider Direct Routing as an alternative to Microsoft’s restrictive call plans.

 

Managing productivity

Task management software like Trello and Jira have helped many organisations – including ours – stay on track and productive while working away from the office environment. These types of platforms allow teams to see upcoming tasks and deadlines, keeping them on track, organised and accountable. We’ve found that our colleagues feel more connected as they can see what everyone is working on and dive into the detail whenever they need to.

There’s still no substitute for getting teams together and working collaboratively but if you can’t be there in person then these tools definitely help keep projects on track.

However what Trello and Jira don’t do is take the pressure off your teams by digitising and automating routine tasks and processes. You can free up your teams time and ease the pressures on communication by making sure your business operations are fully digitally enabled, important documents can be produced easily and faultlessly and even automate compliance and guidance.   As you digitise more of your business then you will see its overall cadence increase as routine work happens almost instantaneously.

 

double exposure of businessman or salesman handing over a contract on wooden desk

How COVID-19 has changed us

We crave human contact and socialisation. Lockdown has made this more difficult than ever. Being away from the office has interrupted many business processes, including the simple act of speaking to work colleagues face to face.  Digitisation of those processes with platforms like AUTTO can help of course.

Companies where employees work together well and interact regularly are the ones that succeed. Having a good line of communication with colleagues helps organisations run as normal and ensures there isn’t a loss of productivity or business.

Software like 3CX and Microsoft Teams has helped us work together and stay connected. We’ve found that lockdown has made us more connected than ever because we (and our customers) are now really making the most of these tools.

Video calls have been a breakthrough for business communications. As regular users of Teams, we’ve taken full advantage of the video conferencing and virtual meeting capabilities of the platform. They’re easy to setup, manage, chat and share files seamlessly in one forum. With lockdown and the lack of human interaction, looking at the people you’re talking to makes everything easier and let’s face it, more normal and less boring during isolation.

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AUTTO is a no-codebusiness and document automation platform. No-code means you can build tailor-made automated processes without having to be a developer.

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