Automation can be a great way to streamline processes in your company that will allow you to grow and remain strong and relevant in the marketplace. You don’t want your skilled employees spending all their time doing mindless and repetitive tasks that aren’t growing the business. Automating gives them more time to work on more important things. Technology and automation aren’t going away, so read on to see how your company can get ahead.
Make Sure You’re Ready to Automate
Be careful not to automate too early. New businesses tend to need a lot of human touches to establish processes and work closely with new clients. Be sure that you have a firm foundation and processes set in place that can be automated. You can’t automate something that is being done on a case-to-case basis – it needs to be a common procedure. Once you’re in a stable place in your business and you find yourself and your employees doing repetitive tasks, that’s when it’s time to automate.
Don’t Automate Things that are Important to the Customer Experience
Issy Sharp, founder of the Four Seasons Hotels has been quoted saying, “Systemize the predictable. Humanize the exceptional.” Although automising systems can make your company more efficient and streamlined, you don’t want to get rid of the things that make your services appealing to customers. Make sure you’re not automating things that make your company valuable, different, and that are part of the customer experience. There are plenty of services offered that would allow you to automate almost everything in your company, but just because you can automate something doesn’t mean you should.
Define Your Process Before Automating Parts of it
Before you automate a process, you have to have a detailed and consistent process in place. So to ensure this process of automation goes smoothly, perform the proper preparation.
Start by defining your process. Defining a process will help you organise your business and catch inefficiencies or opportunities for error.
A good way to do this is to film yourself doing a task with a tool and then watch it back, breaking down the steps as you go.
Start Small and Simple
Remember to start small – you can chip away, automating the process bit by bit. It can be daunting and leave lots of room for error to automate a whole process all at once. Once you have the individual steps that make up a process broken down it will be easier to pick out single parts to automate.
When picking what parts to begin automating, start with the easiest processes and pick tasks where there is no human value added. For instance, don’t begin by automating email responses or other things where human creativity or knowledge could be instrumental in customer experience. Begin with something that will only affect you internally.
Look for repetition and mindless activities. You want to automate tasks that are repetitive, time-consuming, and easy for algorithms to replicate accurately. Get together with your team for input on things that fit these criteria.
Generally, things that should be automated are anything ‘below your pay-grade’ so to speak that could be done cheaper, faster, or better.
Build a Culture that Values Automation
The highest performers are the ones that automate the most because it frees them up to do more important things and increase productivity. You should encourage your team to look for opportunities to automate in everything they do. Many employees are afraid to point out tasks that could be automated because they are afraid it will lessen the necessity of their job, but in reality, there are always more things to be done and time is too short. Your employees should be thinking about what they could get done beyond these menial tasks.
If your company is larger, it might be a good idea to create a position focused solely on automation. While automated tasks make things more efficient once they are in place, it can be difficult to implement them. Having someone whose specific job this is will streamline this process and ensure it actually gets done.
Document and Set Goals
Document everything you do in the process of automating. It will help you re-create this efficiency in other tasks and help you automate more processes quicker in the future. It will also show others and yourself looking back all that you have accomplished and can be used to train employees. Documenting in every aspect of what you do is always good practice.
Set goals before you start automating. The point of automating is to free up time to accomplish other things, so make sure you set goals about what you would like to get done with this extra time to see how successful you are. Explicitly define your goals and make sure they are measurable. This way, you can track the results of your automation and refine your processes further.
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