Automation of inner processes in a company may seem confusing, difficult to implement, or even unattainable – especially in the case of small businesses that do not have large budgets. But in fact, it helps them achieve real financial savings and operate as efficiently as large enterprises.
Automation can be a powerful tool that agile businesses can use to be more flexible, effective, and achieve better results.
What is automation?
Automation is all about releasing your team from repetitive tasks that a technique can do. Instead, your employees will be able to do more valuable work and unravel creativity.
The main principle of automation is to define tasks where the program or application can overcome human contribution. The profitability to implement automation should be more beneficial than leaving manual tasks to the employees.
It is important here to distinguish between workflow automation, which is non-invasive and does not generate high costs, from RPA (robotic process automation). RPA, i.e. robotization of processes, is a much more complex solution used in production that requires greater financial and time expenditure.
Processes worth automating can be found:
- in customer service departments (where chatbots can answer basic questions, provide product proposals, or handle simple customer inquiries)
- sales departments (prioritize incoming requests and store initial customer information)
- marketing departments (automatically collect leads or select offers from newsletters)
- and many others
Why automation is so important?
Let’s find out 9 reasons why automation is beneficial for agile businesses.
Robots handle tedious tasks
Automation, contrary to the fears of some people, does not replace humans but allows them to concentrate on more important tasks or issues that require more attention.
According to the UiPath survey, 85% of business executives see automation as an opportunity to retain new talents. Delegating repetitive processes to the algorithm frees employees to experiment and upgrade business operations. This can be seen in the example of trade specialists.
According to Salesforce, they spend only 34% of their time on actual sales. The rest of the day takes creating bids that are difficult to delegate, but also scheduling meetings or updating documentation – the perfect space for automation.
More time is left for creative tasks
Although automation is a great tool, not every activity can be computerized. Creative activities, requiring personal involvement or critical thinking, are still left to people.
If employees are burdened with data-drowning and repetitive duties to a large extent, they may struggle to produce creative, extraordinary ideas. Transferring at least some of the work to the computer gives teams more respite and time for an unconventional approach to duties.
Errors are minimized
Another issue worth mentioning in the case of automation is the higher reliability of the technique. Proper automation ensures mistakes become rare and only result from human errors, e.g. incorrectly entered data (by the client or employee). This saves time on finding possible flaws or omissions at work.
Service gets speed-up
Speaking of automation, its impact on customer service must also be taken into account. It helps among the other things: to answer a large part of questions without any employee intervention, update the number of available products, fill labels or contact the person who abandoned the cart while shopping.
And there are plenty of software tools for that on the market. As a result, customers get what they want faster, whether it is information, product, or service.
More money is saved
The introduction of process automation translates into real savings for the company. Faster customer service, efficient team management, or automatic prioritization of inquiries allow employees to cut working time. Hence, there is already a short path to measurable savings of employees’ workload, and thus an increase in the company’s revenues.
Areas to automate in your agile business
Automation can play a significant role at all stages of the sales process. Automation can be widely observed in the first contact between the customer and the brand when the interested person can obtain more and more detailed information during a conversation with the chatbot.
Bots relieve service departments from answering basic questions, allow staff to solve less complicated problems, and even propose products or services selected individually on the basis of an examination. By 2023 nearly 30% of customer experience processes will arrange sales automation.
Customer service automation supports agile business at the level of collecting customer preferences. It brings notifications about new inquiries, reminders about the customer’s needs, or notifies customers about the offer in the event of a longer lack of contact. All that data can be efficiently stored and processed with the help of the BigQuery toolkit.
Google BigQuery is a cloud-based database with the highest processing speed for huge amounts of data. First of all, it serves as the data source for business reports of any parameters. Complete and structured data in hand helps extract valuable insights from them much easier. This will bring reporting and visualization that can be selected for any needs and budget. Actually, another advantage is that data from there can be easily transferred to other products.
Vice versa, popular free services like Google Data Studio and Google Sheets are used to import data to BigQuery respectively. Because of their flexibility and scalability, cloud services immediately became popular among business owners.
The marketing department, regardless of whether it plans events, social media expansion, or content activities, can successfully take advantage of the automation of many processes.
The basic one is work planning for individual employees, which can be handled by such work operating systems as Jira.
Assigning tasks, moving them to the appropriate column depending on the status, and prioritizing are only some of the possibilities that will make it easier to track progress and allow you to spot possible problems with projects.
Jira is a project management tool that helps streamline teamwork. The principle of the service is similar to the task manager on a computer: it monitors running processes (projects) and controls the number of resources (employees) to work on them.
Tracking requests coming through various channels allows you to organize work and avoid omissions that occur in the case of manual work organization.
In turn, the integration with Outlook and Gmail helps transfer e-mail content to the Jira task, and the connection with Dropbox facilitates sharing files with other team members or companies within the application.
The platform improves and speeds up communication, allowing you to quickly assign a task to another employee or inform about a change in its status. Roadmaps do not prescribe detailed tasks and methods of implementation, they set goals, priorities and indicate the dependence of the work of one department on the work of another.
Agile business managers can visually track the path of each task from creation to result:
- generation of ideas and hypotheses
- creation of a prototype
- coordination of a design concept
- content creation
- quality assurance
Speed in finding appropriate documents and sources, transparent access to tasks currently being worked on by team members, as well as automatic data import and export allow you to find yourself efficiently in projects and perform your work without distraction.
With automation, companies can track timelines, tasks, projects, and implementation milestones. You can easily access the project and control how the work is going.
Reducing the number of tasks is useful, for example, for sending messages, reminders, and planning. The introduction of automation tools shortens the chain of approvals and ultimately speeds up this process.
Trello is one of the most popular online project management systems and is especially popular among small companies and startups. It allows you to effectively organize work according to the Japanese methodology of Kanban boards.
Find out why Kanban Zone is a better Kanban project management tool vs. Trello.
The first and main effect of process automation in an agile business is economic. The more optimized the process, the faster the business cycle and the company gets the result of its activities, and thus saves time, resources, and effort, which allows you to grow faster.
The second important benefit is the concept of continuous improvement. Indeed, the ability to improve processes and constantly increase the return on investment is the factor that always works in favor of an agile business.
Thus, when justifying the need for automation, it is necessary to take into account not only the first iterations of the processes. It is necessary to remember that teamwork improvement will only increase over time.