All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. That may be the case for the likes of Shakespeare but when it comes to automating processes in your business, it’s time to drop the act.
It’s 2018. We all know that automation is good for business – it streamlines cumbersome and complex processes, reduces human error and saves everyone a lot of time, money and pain. But while many businesses extoll the benefits of automation, it’s clear that some are more skilled in the art of thespianism. In this case, it’s not automation; it’s automation theatre – the imagined practice of automating a process in your business while, in fact, you’re just using up everyone’s time.
To truly automate, you need a thorough understanding of a process, including the finer details of each step and the hidden 'steps' that people perform but of which they aren’t necessarily aware.
What is automation best practice?
How do you know if a process is truly automated or if everyone’s still play-acting?
True automation can be identified using several criteria, and while the automated process doesn’t need to exhibit all these characteristics, it should display most of them.
The ‘normal’ process should be completely hands-off with no user interaction at all. A user will trigger the automation as part of the normal process, but from there it needs no input.
Any automated process should provide ‘visibility’ into the activities. This allows users to understand and diagnose the automated process. It also ensures that the next item – manage by exception – can be acted upon.
Manage by exception
Any automation needs to deal with a wide range of circumstances, including situations which it can’t handle normally. Good automations need to notify users of such an exception and provide proactive monitoring so they can resolve the situation.
The best automations provide idempotent recoverability. If the process does fail or require user intervention, it can be recovered by simply re-running the process.
When should you use automation?
Any time a user needs to enter the same data twice you have a great candidate for automation. Creating an invoice in your practice management system and copying over to Xero? Automate. Downloading data from your cloud platforms into Excel for reporting? Automate. Copying details into a templated document for PDF generation? Automate.
This is your cue. It’s time to stop acting and start automating.
Automation in practice: what can it do for your business?
Before approaching BlueRock, Click Frenzy, an annual online sales event, had one staff member spending 100% of her time on manually processing invoices. The day-to-day operations of the business required that three separate invoices be created for every single sales order. That’s hundred of invoices and a whole lot of wasted time.
BlueRock was engaged to automate this time-consuming and error-prone process and help the Click Frenzy team reclaim their staff member. Our automation experts designed and developed a solution that enabled the team to split their sales orders into separate invoices without any manual processing. With seamless integration between the company’s CRM and Xero, invoices are automatically created as soon as a sales order is electronically signed by the customer.
With automated invoice processing, the Click Frenzy team saves hours of time and has confidence that their invoices are error-free. What’s more, more efficient processing means invoices go out sooner and are paid sooner, making managing cash flow and finances that much easier. The team can now focus on what really matters – like growing their business.
Ask the experts
Are you reading this asking yourself, “I’d love to automate [task name here], but where do I start?" That’s where we can help. If your process is repeatable and your tools provide an interface, our team of experts can assist you with automating it. We’ll guide you on your journey, understanding the problem, designing the system, choosing and evaluating the right tools and implementing the answer. Get in touch to ask us how we can help you streamline your processes and free up your people for greater success.
- Zoho CRM