Automating everyday tasks is affordable and effective in saving you time and streamlining processes. Here's what you need to know.
As the CTO for an online software company that specializes in saving customers time, I often forget that other people aren't as aware of the benefits of automation as I am.
Of course, it’s easy for someone like me to automate internal processes and then tell others how beneficial this is, but with this article I hope to explain why you should consider automation too.
Not only is it easy, affordable and incredibly effective to automate a number of your daily, weekly and monthly tasks but there are countless advantages.
You're already a fan of automation
If you've learned a few basic Excel formulas and therefore use spreadsheets to keep on top or your accounts or manage expense reports, you're already using automation. You know that it takes a fraction of time to do sums using Excel compared to using a calculator or even your brain.
Imagine now applying this same speediness and ease of use to more complex tasks like managing employee schedules, processing payroll, or any kind of data collation, analysis and reporting.
There are a bevvy of tools that exist to assist in doing so (we'll get to those shortly), but depending on your business's needs, you may need to hire a consultant to aid in assessing your processes and implementing automation technologies and techniques.
Invest in automation, invest in your business
When I talk to fellow business owners about automation and explain that there are thousands of automation specialists ready and willing to speed up practically any task, there is resistance based on the issues of money and time. What I am suggesting is that we stop seeing automation costs as just another expenditure and start viewing it an investment.
I appreciate the prospect of sourcing the right person and then ensuring they do exactly what you want them to can seem like a very long and expensive process, but it doesn’t have to be.
Thanks to sites like UpWork (formerly ODesk) and Elance, you can find affordable developers with years of relevant experience and good feedback to help you automate your processes. If you explain your requirements and ask prospective contractors what they can do for you, you’ll quickly get an idea of which ones are the best fit.
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To automate is to never forget
Forgetfulness costs businesses money. With reports suggesting employee tardiness costs national economies billions, it shouldn't be ignored that managers and business leaders are human too and they can forget things.
By automating regularly occurring tasks, you not only speed up getting that job done but you also ensure it's done on time.
Automation improves transparency and accuracy
Nowadays, not only do authorities expect companies to be transparent, but customers do too. When you automate processes within your company, you create reliable trails of information which can be reviewed and shared, as and when required.
It is much easier and safer to rely on a computer program to carefully document and prove that internal processes have been followed than a human. In other words, there is no room for human error when you automate!
Image via Lifehack
The solutions may already exist
Automation is not a new thing, and the last few years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of apps and plug-ins launched to provide automated solutions for everyday tasks.
When it comes to email, chances are that you can already automate a series of tasks within the email program you use, like filters and automatic replies.
For example, in Outlook you should check out what Quick Steps can help you do. If you use Gmail you should check out this post on how to use Filters to automate your Inbox. A simple Google search will help you find some suggested solutions for other platforms.
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For other apps you use, you should check out providers like Zapier which enable you to set up your own automated actions. The above demo videos shows how their platform works with the apps you already use. For example, you can automate the saving of all email attachments to Dropbox or you could automatically send a new entry in your Google contacts to a Mailchimp subscriber list.