There’s been a lot of hype and excitement in recent years about the automation revolution. We’ve already seen how remote working has changed the way we work, as we adjust to a ‘new normal’ of working wherever works for us. The rise of AI and machine learning, too, is proving to have far-reaching effects on businesses.
With the arrival of these new technologies, we’re able to make better use of the time we have. This is because they allow us to perform time-consuming tasks more quickly or simply automate them altogether.
Of course, there are lots of software tools that are already proving useful in helping us to get everyday tasks done quicker. Productivity apps are hugely popular because they provide us with insights as to how we can use our time more efficiently.
You might not have realized just how many common workday tasks can be automated to save time and effort. In this guide, we’ll provide you with an overview of why automating tasks can be highly beneficial for your business, as well as your job satisfaction. We’ll list seven tasks in particular that you can automate.
Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have picked up some great ideas that’ll help you waste less time and get more done at work. Let’s get started.
Saving time and money by automating tasks
As the adage has it, time is money. This is nowhere truer than in the world of business, where margins are fine and competition is fierce. If you want to glean a competitive advantage over your rivals, you need to ensure your business is efficient and productive and that it keeps up to speed with new technological developments.
Of course, businesses have introduced a plethora of new technologies in recent decades to enhance productivity and profitability. With technologies such as cloud infrastructure , your working life could be made a lot easier.
But there are still lots of tedious tasks that take up too much time on our days. Perhaps you haven’t given it much thought, but it’s probably the same in your daily routine – the chances are you waste a lot of hours doing repetitive, menial jobs. The question you should ask yourself is whether you need to do them yourself.
A lot of these tasks – and, indeed, some not-so-menial tasks – can be automated away with the help of various tools. The potential benefits of automation have been discussed at length in the media and business circles over the last few years, and a robust IT setup should now include tools such as mobile device management applications.
It’s fair to say that most of us have a certain image of automation – one that usually involves robots – but in fact, the term is quite a broad one. Automation also takes simpler, workaday forms which have already become part of the fabric of our everyday working lives. Minor tasks can take up a lot of your time, and automation can help here.
Some tasks can simply be delegated to other members of your team; task delegation is a strategy that’s tried and tested to work well for many enterprises. However, you must take care not to overload your colleagues with additional work as they’ll also have their own to take care of.
By automating or delegating minor tasks, you can ensure both you and your employees have more time on their hands. This will allow them to concentrate on more important things, allowing you to provide an even better standard of service to your customers and clients.
Seven tasks you can automate
With the right software tools, simple tasks that would otherwise take up a big chunk of your workday can be automated away. Not only does this save your team time, which they can then put to use in other areas, but it helps to eliminate avoidable errors. This can cut labor costs and other expenses. Call centers, for instance, have already automated a range of processes.
It’s important to first work out which tasks can be automated. There are several factors to take into consideration here: the cost of automating the process, the potential savings on offer, and the prospective benefits in terms of cost savings and improved efficiency. Many admin tasks could be subject to automation.
In this section, we’ll take a look at seven tasks your business should be able to automate with the minimum of fuss. If you’ve never given the matter much thought before, you might be surprised to learn how much your business could benefit from improved task management.
Let’s take a closer look.
1. Managing your finances
If you’ve run your own business before, you’ll know what a hassle it can be to keep your finances on an even keel. Juggling pipeline stock, consumer demand, labor costs, and all the other associated challenges of running a business isn’t easy.
There are tools you can use to manage both your business and personal finances. These are already proving wildly popular with firms and households alike, especially given the challenges many people are currently facing. If you regularly find yourself poring over your balance sheet, it’s worth looking at alternatives.
A whole host of accounting-related tasks and processes can be handled automatically by software. These include paying bills, tracking receipts and transactions, and managing invoices. Automating these accounting processes leaves you with more free time to perform other tasks, as well as improving accuracy and reliability, and reducing the danger of human error.
2. Streamlining communication
As anyone who’s spent any amount of time working in an office will tell you, communications between colleagues can quickly go awry. It’s easy for emails to be overlooked when you’re trying to keep on top of multiple communication channels at once.
Thankfully, there are apps and tools which you can use to reduce your reliance on email. RingCentral’s all-in-one business communications solution, for instance, brings video conferencing, phone calls, and integrated messaging together in one place. This means instead of juggling multiple apps, you can use one.
For internal communication between colleagues, instant messaging – both teams and one-on-one – can reduce the need for emails, encouraging quicker responses and reducing the risk of communications being missed or overlooked. You can invite new colleagues to join conversations and send files via private cloud storage and online file sharing.
You can use automation to simplify communication with customers, making things easier for them as well. Automated chatbots can answer customers’ questions, helping them to find what they’re looking for without the need for an employee to intervene. Chatbots can also direct queries to human agents where necessary.
3. Organizing your emails
Of course, the rise of instant messaging and chatbots doesn’t mean we can leave email behind altogether. For many, email is still a highly useful communication tool. We need to ensure our inboxes are well organized because, again, this can go a long way toward saving valuable time and energy.
You’re probably used to sifting through inboxes crammed with emails; we all know the feeling, after a week or two’s holiday away from the office, of coming back to a jam-packed inbox and sifting through everything that’s there. This in itself is a very time-consuming task.
But there are ways in which automation can help to reduce the burden. For example, you can use email rules to organize your inbox. All major email clients should offer email rules, which help to ensure your inbox doesn’t become cluttered. These allow you to move certain emails to particular folders, create new item alerts, and so on.
You can also automate email responses. Use your email client to create email templates, which you can use to respond to specific types of query, thereby saving yourself time which you can put to other uses instead.
4. Scheduling and automating social media posts
As we’re all aware by now, social media is crucial to succeeding in business. The days when we could afford to neglect social media or write it off as a fad are well and truly over. Businesses which fail to appreciate this are likely to suffer for it.
Consumers expect to be able to engage with their favorite brands and businesses on these social media platforms. Moreover, they expect these brands to entertain them with a steady stream of interesting and relevant social media content. This is why so many businesses put so much time and effort into their social media feeds.
Nevertheless, devising and drafting social media posts, and then posting them, can be a time-consuming business. You can save time here by scheduling social media posts in advance by using marketing automation software. Using project scheduling software will also come in handy. This is one of many effective task management strategies that can save time and effort.
This means you don’t need to have yourself or a member of staff on hand to manually put out social media content. It also helps ensure your followers and fans get a consistent flow of regular content, which gives them something to watch out for and engage with. This is important for keeping consumers engaged with your brand and driving sales.
5. Arranging meetings
We’ve all been there – trying to arrange a meeting with colleagues or a client, only to struggle to round everybody up. Even if you do succeed in getting all your participants in the same room – physical or meeting online – there’s the challenge of keeping proceedings in order, preventing people from going off on neverending tangents.
There’s only so much you can do to stop that kind of thing, but automation can at least make the process of organizing meetings considerably easier. Booking, rescheduling, and canceling meetings is simple using the right software tools, as is inviting attendees. These attendees are also instantly notified of any changes that might occur.
You can set your software up so individual meeting rooms and other resources can be booked out; this helps to ensure you have enough physical space and the right equipment to make your meeting a success.
In addition, you can make sure automated reminders go out to attendees in the run-up to the meeting, saving you the job of having to remind them yourself.
6. Customer relationship management
Relationships with customers are the bedrock of long-term business success. If you can turn first-time customers into loyal, returning customers, this should provide you with the foundation you need for future growth.
Businesses have already introduced a range of measures to boost customer service. Automatic call distribution – or ACD – ensures that incoming calls are automatically routed to the appropriate agents. Calls can be allocated according to complexity and the skill sets of individual agents, known as skills-based routing, ensuring a smoother customer experience.
Managing relationships with customers tends to take a lot of time. Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps to automate many of the tasks associated with it so that human employees can concentrate on more specialized, value-adding tasks and tend to the more complex needs of customers.
CRM tools are used to manage customer interactions – including both potential and established clients – providing detailed insights into specific customer relationships. They can be used to gather and analyze in-depth customer data, giving you a clearer picture of what consumers are looking for when engaging with your business.
Likewise, customer service applications make it easier to provide your customers with a better, more attentive service than you already do.
7. Booking time of
We’re all entitled to a break from the work routine every once in a while. After all, it’s unhealthy to work too hard – a change of scene is sometimes what we need. But in the past, booking time off work has itself been hard work.
Thankfully, it’s now possible to automate the process of booking a holiday from work. By syncing employees’ calendars to one another, managers can easily keep track of who’s booked which dates off once their requests have been approved.
This ensures staffing is kept at an appropriate level while some members of the team take a well-earned break, as well as allowing colleagues to check when other team members will be on holiday.
Working more efficiently through automation
This short guide is just a partial overview of some of the tasks that can be automated. There are numerous others, and altogether, they can provide employees with more free time at work, which they can then use to do other, more important tasks.
Although these might sound like minor tasks to automate, they can account for an excessive proportion of the day. This is why it’s important, where we can, to use the tools at our disposal so they can take care of these tasks instead. This can make a major contribution to increasing productivity.
By automating tasks such as the ones we’ve listed, employees are likely to be more productive and happier too, because they’re spending less time doing repetitive and often boring tasks. Most of all, of course, by making employees more productive and potentially boosting staff retention, automation can – crucially – enhance profitability.