Process automation is an exciting endeavor for business owners because of its promises of cost-cutting, error reduction, and employee efficiency. If you are considering investing in technology that will automate one or more of your business processes, don’t get stuck in the trap of a utopian automated workplace.

If you don’t approach process automation in incremental steps, you can end up biting off more than you can chew. That leads to analysis paralysis where you can’t take the necessary next step toward project completion. Don’t waste your time or money on process automation without first considering these tips.

  1. Only automate a process that is already efficient. It works well but could be faster, easier, or smoother with the help of automated updates and centralized communication.
  2. Target processes that require rework between systems. One of the biggest benefits of process automation is creating a bridge between business systems that can’t otherwise communicate with each other.
  3. Look for the easiest ROI. Processes that require a lot of people, are conducted on spreadsheets, or are a time suck will quickly pay for themselves in increased employee productivity.
  4. Thoroughly understand the process before you begin. Set a goal for the solution you want to see in the end. That is the only way to properly analyze resources available to you and scope out what needs to be accomplished.

Know your technology options. Automation solutions are available through custom development, software as a service (SaaS), and packaged solutions. Evaluate the short and long-term implications of all options to ensure you make the best call for your business.

Gravity Web Services works with companies of all sizes to analyze and create custom solutions for process automation. We work alongside business owners and executive managers to help them document the process, walk through the experience, figure out the automated flow, and then determine how to make the process easier — now and as the company grows in the future. This can be acomplished with a full custom solution or SaaS option fully adjusted to your business.

Following are common areas to look for possible automation and process improvement. Remember to focus on processes that are frequent and repetitive.

  • Customer Service – the speed and ease to manage customer interactions
  • Sales Forecasting – maintaining contacts, lead generation, and prospect communication in one place where multiple people can access it. See Zoho CRM for an example of an SaaS solution.
  • Human Resources – processes for newly hired and/or outgoing employees
  • Accounting – time logging and expense tracking
  • Marketing & Communication send newsletters, email campaigns, track website requests
  • Operations – pulling data from an MRP or ERP in an easily communicable format
  • Executive Management – pulling data and reports from many different systems, people, and departments to create a dashboard of business activity and profitability
  • Supply Chain – improving the frequency and quality of communication from every step in the production process
  • Order Processing – bringing the accounting, customer service, and operations functions together into one smooth system for the company and the customer experience
  • Purchasing – creating a central system for tracking quotes and purchase orders to develop a repeatable and easily trainable process

Improving your business process shouldn’t be daunting, and won’t be if you have the right partner to guide you. Take incremental steps to achieve small wins, and build from there. Not only will your budget remain in control, but your employees will have time to buy into new ways of working, and you will have time to tackle the other business processes that still need refining.

Gravity Marketing is celebrating 10 years in the business. That’s 10 years of growing client businesses alongside our own. It’s also 10 years of trial and error, risk and reward, lessons learned, and problems solved. In this series, Gravity Marketing’s president and founder, Mike Kuharske, shares the top insights he’s gained over 10 years as an entrepreneurial marketer.