Automating Your Business – 11 Focus Areas

As Accountants we like to see highly efficient businesses… because that leads to more profit, a higher valuation, and – usually – happier owners, managers, and employees!

Automation is one way to increase efficiency. The benefits of automation include:

  • Eliminating or reducing hours spent on repetitive tasks to improve productivity
  • Making processes cheaper, faster, and less error-prone
  • Improved reporting and data analysis, leading to better decision-making
  • Standardisation of processes, resulting in more consistent outcomes
  • A team focused on more productive activities (without the distraction of mundane work)

Automation is not a new idea but the opportunities to automate continue to grow all the time.

Let’s look at some business areas where automation has proved to be particularly impactful.

1. Marketing

Marketing Automation Software (MAS) can manage outbound marketing campaigns, measure lead generation, analyse customer behaviour, and simplify sales processes. A close ‘relative’ is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software that manages existing customer relationships to improve retention and generate additional sales.

2. Data Sharing

Businesses need to efficiently store and share files internally and externally. There are inexpensive ways to do this, for example, through Google Docs and DropBox. Automated File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) software solutions move files to servers which enables efficient, secure data sharing.

3. Business Reporting

All businesses generate data… but data is worthless unless converted into reports for analysis and review by managers. Automation tools make these reports available in real-time or as frequently as the business needs them. Some reports also forecast future performance to support decision-making.

4. Communication

Given the complex (internal and external) relationships in business, it is not surprising that communication is a hugely time-consuming activity. Automation helps in various ways, such as setting up alerts or reminders to take action effectively and on time.

5. Email Communication 

Many employees rely on email as a primary communication tool but don’t necessarily use it efficiently. Automation tools can help organise stacks of daily emails, sending automated responses to some and directing everything else to specific folders for further attention. This leads to efficiency and more impactful communications. 

6. Meetings

Many businesses use calendar tools to set up and organise meetings. Meeting automation platforms (MAPs) are used to support the meeting itself and improve communication before, during, and after the meeting.

7. Accounting Tasks

Accounting involves many manual steps but automation of Accounts Payable saves time and money in the processing and payment of bills. The same can be said for invoicing, tracking accounts receivable, and expense management.

8. Facilities Management

Automation enables consistent, centralised processes which provide a high level of service and maintain audit trails. This applies to any facilities challenge such as building security, repairs, energy management, vendor management, incident reporting, escalations, safety, etc.

9. ERP Integration

Larger businesses may use an ERP system IN ADDITION TO automation tools to get information from – or feed information into – the ERP. With all systems working from the same dataset, companies get a single, unified source of business data, which guides major business decisions.

10. Hiring

Hiring employees is a process from job posting through to onboarding. Human Resource Management Systems save time in managing candidates, making offers, and developing employment agreements. A well-organised recruitment process also reflects well on your business, especially in a challenging hiring environment.

11. Employee Analytics

Managers need to track employee performance and behavior, ideally through automated customised reports. Understanding this data helps improve employee productivity, satisfaction, and retention.

Investing in automation tools requires a commitment to change. Best to appoint a ‘Change Champion’ to drive the implementation (versus leaving it to a group who take this on ‘part time’).

And measure ROI over two years or more because it can take that long to see the fruits of an investment in automation.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office.

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