Automating your accounting and admin workflows has many benefits, including saving time, money and frustration, but also eliminating unnecessary errors.
However, implementing automation in your organisation is not a task to take up lightly. Before you jump in, first read our best tips when it comes to automating your business workflows to make sure you start off on the right foot.
1. Not All Processes Should Be Automated
Once we’re convinced that we should automate our business workflows, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to automate everything. But not all processes could or should be automated.
Tasks that are ideal for automation are any repetitive tasks or processes that are time-intensive, have large amounts of data and transactions, and which are prone to human error if done manually. In short, any tasks where you don’t need human intervention can be automated.
Any tasks where you need critical thinking and decision-making, which only humans can do, should not be automated. For example, you can automate your stock ordering system to automatically issue an order for items that reach a certain stock level. But say for instance that you need to replace a certain part because that part is not available from suppliers anymore, you’d need a human to make that decision and you may even have to test different items before deciding which items to order as a replacement. That is not something you can leave up to the computers to decide.
2. Audit Current Workflows First before Making Changes
You can’t automate and improve workflows if you don’t know how the current process works. First, identify all processes, document the various steps and tasks involved in each process, and then analyse the workflows and decide where to improve. If you’re interested in learning more about how to do this, read this blog: 6 Steps to Streamlining Your Operational Workflows.
Once you’re familiar with the manual process, you can start to identify and design automated workflows where needed.
3. Don’t Automate All Workflows Immediately
Unless you’re starting your business from scratch and you want to automate all your processes from the start, don’t try to automate all your manual tasks at once. If you do, this will cause overwhelm and confusion with your employees, and you’ll see the rate of errors skyrocketing.
Start with the areas that can benefit the most from automation first, and once that is working smoothly, you can automate more processes.
4. Automate Connections between Apps
One of the areas that waste a lot of time in organisations is the duplication of data entries – for instance, adding client information to your accounting software, to your CRM, as well as your meeting scheduling app.
Instead of inputting these details into every app, connect your applications with each other so that these types of information can be captured once and then be pulled through to other programs without wasting any additional resources.
5. Involve Your Whole Team
One of the biggest mistakes you could make is letting an outsider, who is not involved in the day-to-day operations of a department, make decisions on how to automate the workflows in that department without the input of the relevant employees.
The team working in that department knows best what works and what doesn’t when it comes to their current system, so it just makes sense to involve them in the process. Additionally, you’ll need their buy-in when you start to automate their tasks. If you don’t, your new automated workflows will fail.
For the best results, give one of the people in the department the responsibility to record existing processes, and then let that person, as well as the rest of the team members in the department, help you to test new workflows and automations before implementation.
6. Train Your Team on New Systems
Implementing new systems could only work if the team performing the relevant tasks know how the new systems work. Change is hard, so expect a lot of complaining and errors in the first few weeks.
Make sure you spend enough time training your staff on how the new apps work and then check in often until everybody is comfortable with the new processes and systems.
7. Think Long Term
Always think about what would make sense and the most significant difference in the long term. Don’t implement a new automated system if you know you’ll want to replace it in a year from now, or when you reach a certain level in your business. If you can, choose apps that are flexible and which can adapt as your business grows.
8. Consider Ready-Made Solutions First before Coding Your Own
Many of the available ready-made solutions on the market could meet your business needs. You may need two or three different solutions to automate various tasks, as opposed to one large program that you code yourself, but this is not a problem as long as these apps can seamlessly integrate.
Having your programs coded takes time and money. If you could instead pick up solutions that are ready for use – already tested and bug-free – you’ll avoid a lot of headaches.
Ready to embrace automation?
Automating your business workflows is one of the best things you can do, especially if you plan on scaling your business. It’s not always easy to implement automation and integrate with other systems, let alone to choose the right solutions for your business. If you need help at any stage in your automation project, reach out to us for assistance.