If you’ve shopped online, you know how E-commerce makes life extremely easy and simple for the time-constrained and rushed shoppers of today. Your necessities don’t end just because you don’t have time to shop. Be it groceries or clothes, or other essential items of daily need, you’ll find E-commerce increasingly taking over our lives. This is, in principle, what automation is all about.
To understand it in the context of a small business, just think of an office setup where every department functions in isolation. There’s no seamless networking of individual functions and things just don’t happen smoothly. Now you can imagine how difficult it would be to run such a business. Not only will it be operationally tough to handle, productivity in such an organization would also be low.
Automation is important
The answer to this problem lies in automation. Automation is the key to success in small businesses, especially when you look at it from a marketing perspective. In the absence of automation, tracking your marketing pitches, emails and prospective, as well as existing clients, can become extremely cumbersome and can, in fact, lead to serious problems if you end up with old data instead of the latest facts, figures and communications.
This is why you’ll find an increasing number of business managers opting for specialized software such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), which enables integration of applications to automate back office functions such as technology, human resources, and services. Or you can opt for CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software to make management of your sales, marketing and support functions simpler, operate from a single platform.
The ease of business enabled by such software systems will give your small business the kind of fillip it needs as a result of a more streamlined network, and better inter-functional coordination.
Benefits of automation
As evident, there are immense benefits to be accrued from automation of business. Workflow can be simplified and integrated by making communication between teams and individuals seamless and organized. Automation helps record every piece of communication in the right place, making it easier for all concerned to access and track it, and keep themselves updated on any project.
Secondly, by creating ownership at each step of the workflow process, automation ensures and enforces accountability of action, or inaction, as the case may be. So you can ascertain, virtually at a glance, who needs to initiate, approve, reject or undertake any other task at any step of the workflow process in relation to a project. This naturally leads to higher level of transparency in the system, with enhanced accountability. You can also use the system to locate the problem areas and address them on priority.
Some more advantages
Of course, there are also some attendant advantages to be had from automation. Manual errors can be minimized, if not eliminated, through automation, which naturally has higher levels of accuracy. Such errors can prove particularly costly in terms of late payments or payment made for goods that are never received, as well as slow approvals for sales. By going in for automation, you ensure that you save on costs by cutting down on such expensive errors.
Then there’s the added advantage of being able to check not just an individual item’s status, but also virtuallycheck out your entire system at a glance. This could involve months of data sifting, which you could never really do manually without spending weeks, if not months. Preparing your report on a workflow process becomes that much easier, making it simpler for you to track the number of requests, approvals, rejections, time spent on each task etc.
By building a systematic process network, automation also helps establish a clear and streamlined hierarchy for approvals. This makes assigning of responsibilities easier, irrespective of the reporting structure in your organization. The more streamlined the system of assigning responsibilities, the better your project execution and implementationwill be, leading to a higher rate of success, and more profitable business generation. It’s all about defining the systems in your business to make the entire organization charter more focused, systemic and processoriented. It also means reduction in errors and minimization of losses resulting from such errors. Errors, as we know, are more prone to arise in a business environment lacking proper systems and processes. And automation helps cut down on the possibility of errors through the establishment of clear systems.
Automation, thus, is a boon for small business owners, helping them bring cohesiveness and integration to their systems, and enabling a better hierarchical establishment with defined roles and responsibilities. By underpinning responsibility and accountability, it also helps improve efficiencies and productivity in the organization. The more streamlined your systems, which can only be ensured through automation, the better the functionality of your business operations.
Automation enables higher levels of adherence to standards you’ve set for your business and all your team members. It also helps easier collation of data and its interpretation when it comes to measuring the success of every individual team member as well as the collective progression of the organization. In today’s business environs, automation is a given, which you can ignore only at your own peril, and at the cost of heavy losses to your business. It’s one of the most important parameters of the growth charter for your business, and one that you need to continually evolve and update in line with your changing business requirements.