Affordable, easy-to-use software and apps have made it easier than ever to set up your business systems and access them wherever you are – you can easily run your company from a laptop and your iPhone and have a constant, real-time view of your numbers.
But there’s one huge benefit of software that you may not have explored in as much detail. And that’s automation. Software allows you to automate your business processes in a number of ways – and this has four massively useful benefits for your company:
- It frees up your time.
- It removes the possibility of human error.
- It makes you more efficient and profitable.
- It makes your business scalable.
Sounds good, doesn’t it! So, let’s take a look at a few different areas of your business where automation can add some serious value.
At My Accounting Place, we’re massive fans of Xero accounting software. It’s beautiful software that let’s you run your business finances from the cloud. It’s simple to use and helps streamline your accounting so you can get on with running the business.
But there are two things that make Xero incredibly useful for automation:
- As your accounting platform, it contains tonnes of data on your business, your numbers and your customer interactions.
- Its open API means there’s a whole community of Xero Add-ons that add new functionality and automation to your systems.
This combination of software, data and automated processes is the key to making automation work for you. For example, Xero lets you set up your invoicing and payment processes online, so customers are sent electronic invoices to pay directly through PayPal, with automatic reminders and a fast, straightforward method for you to get paid.
And Xero Add-ons expand this automation extensively.
Is data management software that magically scans your paper invoices, bills and expenses and pulls the data into Xero – so no more hours of manual data entry or losing that paper invoice you know needs paying.
Is a simple way to get the most from being paid by direct debit. You get the efficiency of online payment and the cost-savings of this straightforward way to get your invoices paid.
Is a way to automate the tedious process of credit control. By automatically emailing your customers and chasing for payment, you have more time to focus on the big things; like running your business.
Lead generation and nurturing
Having your customer data in a flexible software solution really does revolutionise your sales process – and your customer relationship management (CRM).
Systems like InfusionSoft or SalesForce take your sales and CRM processes and put them all in one place. Instead of ploughing your way through multiple spreadsheets, scribbled notes and incomplete email chains, you can see every interaction that you’ve had with a target or customer.
And having that overview of your customer base means you can make better informed decisions. You can automatically target the right audience for your next campaign. You can automate your sales follow-up process so targets get the right communications to generate that lead. And your customers get sent useful, regular content that’s automatically targeted to their specific needs and requirements – no more spamming; this is about using your customer data to tailor every interaction.
Having all your documents in one place, available at any time, adds a whole new level of efficiency to your back-office processes. And cloud systems are a hugely practical way to manage these documents.
Microsoft offers their own Office 365 solution that brings standards like Word, Excel and PowerPoint online. So, whatever device you’re using, you can just log in and access those docs.
If you’re more of a Google fan, Google Docs offers a very similar solution, with Google Docs, Sheets and Slides giving you highly workable alternatives to Office.
Microsoft, Google and Dropbox all offer cloud storage as part of their solutions too. So, rather than your docs sitting on one hard drive on your laptop, everyone’s files can be saved on a virtual drive. Your docs are saved automatically as you work, automating your back-up processes and meaning those files are always securely saved in the cloud and accessible to everyone in the team whenever they need them.
Software doesn’t just help automate your finance and customer-facing processes. Online systems like WorkflowMax, Team Viewer and Basecamp bring you project management and workflow solutions to your internal working processes too.
A system like WorkflowMax let’s you record every task in a project and work out time spent, the costs you’ve incurred as well as letting you manage your staff resources and keep an overview of the different tasks.
Having this automated overview of each project is invaluable, and simplifies the whole process of managing your workflow and making sure you deliver on time, on budget and to the customer’s original brief.
An automatic way to improve your business
So, as you can see, automation has the potential to completely transform the way your business works.
The overriding benefit of automation is making sure tasks happen on time, every time without waiting on us forgetful human beings to execute them. Having these tasks automated saves us time, removes the possibility of human error and means the whole business is far more efficient in the process.
And because you’re not relying on human interaction, automation really does help to build a scalable business model that can grow with you, regardless of the size of your team.
So, the more tasks you can automate, the faster you can expand with minimum outlay, disruption and fuss. We’re just waiting for someone to automate our coffee run process in the morning now – flat whites automatically sent to our desk would definitely save us a few minutes each day!
Want to find out how you could automate your finances? Just drop us a line.