Automation is destined to be the catalyst for business growth. By automating repetitive tasks, businesses can expand their operational capacity without expanding their actual operations or team. Businesses who are trying to stay lean will always find a solution in automating workflows and parts of their business processes.
Automation as a solution, however, isn’t always easy to integrate. There are preparations to be made before automation can bring real value to the business. Failure to make these preparations will result in automation creating more backlogs rather than reducing them. To help you avoid running into a similar problem, here are some practical tips for bringing automation to your existing business process.
Know What to Automate
The start of the transition to automation must always be a thorough analysis of existing business processes. Without fully understanding the processes inside your business, it is impossible to assess the tasks suitable for automation. This too is a step that is easier said than done.
One of the approaches known to be effective is through better project management. Good project management becomes the simplest way to get a good view of how workflows inside the business affect overall operations.
You can turn to a suitable Kanban board to organize projects and tasks in visual form. There are a lot of Kanban tools to choose from too, with top names like Kanbanize offering more features to utilize. In the case of Kanbanize, you can choose how the board can be customized and structured to your advantage.
Once tasks are represented by cards on the Kanban board, taking a closer look becomes a lot simpler. You can, for instance, identify potential bottlenecks based on task dependencies and cycle time. Metrics like lead time and performance are also easier to track.
Know When to Automate
Upon migrating to Kanban-based project management, you will see repetitive cards appearing multiple times on the board. These are the cards – the tasks – that you can automate almost immediately. Repetitive tasks often eat into business resources, which is why automating them is hugely beneficial.
Before automating repetitive tasks, however, you also need to consider when to automate those tasks. While some repetitive tasks take a lot of time to complete, automating them before the rest of the workflow is adjusted could cause more issues in the future.
This means you need to look at the cards around those repetitive ones for clues on how to best automate certain parts of the workflow. The same exercise will also help you understand the best time to start automating internal workflows for higher efficiency; you measure your readiness to automate based on how well the automated tasks can be integrated with the rest of the processes.
One additional component to take into account is the readiness of your team members. You cannot expect to automate things overnight. Instead, you want team members to take part in the transition, refining the automation process as you go along to achieve greater results.
Know How to Automate
The last piece of the puzzle is automation itself. How you automate tasks is just as important as the tasks you automate and when you integrate automation into existing workflows. You cannot expect to automate tasks without the support of suitable automation tools.
Early migration to Kanbanize and the Kanban method is a good start. Kanbanize is easy to integrate with other cloud and business solutions, which means automating certain tasks that are already on the board is incredibly easy. Adding solutions such as Salesforce is also easy when you have the entire sales funnel already visualized on the board.
Other third-party tools handle both automation and integration. Services that synchronizes data across multiple business solutions are very common. There are also services like Zapier that utilize triggers to initiate specific automation routines at specific times.
Be prepared to get it wrong, especially if this is your first time leveraging automation. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes when you are trying to simplify internal workflows. Additional changes and refinement can be made once you see the automation routines being implemented and tested.
As a solution to business expansion, automation is without a doubt the best. Even better, the current automation tools make it possible for complex tasks – often with multiple dependencies – to be automated. Technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are pushing automation beyond what we thought was possible.
For businesses trying to scale up while staying lean, these new advancements in automation make the solution even more appealing. The more tasks that you can automate, the more crucial resources that you can free up, and the sooner you can reallocate those resources to other, more important tasks. It is a cycle that starts with the automation of your first task, but one that will help you advance and grow at an incredible speed.