Essentials of office automation
The effectiveness of business process automation
Best Automation Software
Automating business processes can bring a range of benefits, from cutting out errors to increasing efficiency and scalability.
By ensuring automation software features heavily in your tech stack, you can enjoy these, and many other, benefits.
What is automation software?
No long-winded explanation is needed here! It is software that automates your business processes, giving you back time to focus on higher-value tasks and growing your business.
The fantastic thing about choosing automation software and building your tech stack these days is that you can find software for almost every department and task.
How to choose automation software
Choosing automation software is pretty straightforward. That said, you still need to make sure that your business will benefit from using it. If you are a very early-stage startup, for example, then automation software can be a fantastic platform from which to grow your business, but you need to make it count.
When choosing automation software, you need to ensure it:
- Can integrate with the other tools you plan to add or are already a part of your tech stack. Treat this as a red line in your search. If any software does not offer integrations, do not use it.
- Is easy to use. There are fantastic tools out there that will make a massive difference to your business - once you have completed all the tutorials. But who has time for all that?
- Provides value and is scalable. Why have we put these together? Well, the best automation tools tend to offer different price tiers and structures. This means you can start small and then increase the features you use as your business grows. A common criticism leveled at automation software is how expensive it gets if you want to unlock all the features from day one, but this is how to avoid that happening.
- Has fast support. Whether you are a small business or an established company, you cannot afford for things not to be working even for a limited time. Because an effective tech stack is heavily integrated, one app not working can affect performance elsewhere.
By doing your homework when choosing automation software, you can tick all these boxes and ensure you get maximum impact from your tech investment.
Top 6 automation software tools
Yes, we are starting one of these lists with ourselves again, and why not?!
As much as we joke, there is a serious element behind this, especially if you are a startup. It is easy to spend (waste) hours creating documents. I have no doubt many of you outsource such stuff to lawyers or maybe even use services like Upwork or Fiverr to get it done.
However, by using document automation software, you get better long-term value and eliminate the potential for mistakes. What’s more, you can create contracts and other documents at scale and personalize and customize them as much as you require.
If you want to use automation in your business, then Zapier is a must!
Earlier, we said you should treat integration capability as a red line, and Zapier is the app that will make this happen. The best thing about Zapier is that it enables you to integrate all the apps in your tech stack without using code. You do not need to hire expensive developers to use APIs or make sense of the best way to make your apps speak to each other.
HubSpot is probably the best example of a tool with so many features you can quickly end up spending a fortune on things you do not use. Thankfully, when using HubSpot, you can tailor your services to what you need and then increase the features you need as your business grows. Exactly what we were talking about earlier around the importance of your automation software being scalable!
Best of all, HubSpot’s freemium account option is packed full of features. As such, you can spend plenty of time deciding whether you find it useful enough to want to progress onto paid plans later. They also offer bundle plans that provide exceptional value and help you optimize your business for growth.
What can you use HubSpot for?
That is up to you. HubSpot is fantastic as either a standalone CRM tool or marketing platform and makes it easy to automate your processes around these. You can even host your website using HubSpot if you are starting your business from scratch!
I will admit, Salesforce might err towards being a tool where you need to do all the tutorials to get the most out of it, but it so good that it cannot not be on this list!
As the world's most prominent and widely used CRM software, Salesforce can help you do everything from building your sales pipeline to nurturing leads. It can even get your customers to sign a sales contract or sign-up for one of your subscription services. All without you doing anything outside of setting it up!
5. Sage 50cloud Accounts
One of the golden rules of identifying tasks you should automate is that a job should be repetitive, time-consuming, and deliver little value in terms of return for your business. Almost everything accounting-related, from employee payroll to completing your accounts, fits the bill here.
Sure, sending invoices to your clients gets you paid, but if you are spending a couple of hours a month doing that, that is a couple of hours you can better spend elsewhere.
Sage 50cloud Accounts is an excellent platform for automating all of your accounting processes and integrates brilliantly with things like time tracking software to ensure mundane tasks like payroll happen without you needing to do anything.
6. Breathe HR
I talk about some of the big reasons for resistance to HR automation and tech in this article, so I will not repeat myself here.
Automating HR processes is one of the easiest wins you can get as a small business owner. When used to its' fullest potential, HR automation software can help you get away with not having a dedicated HR department.
From standard administration stuff like managing employee data and annual leave to things where you will need to have some involvement, like recruitment, automating your HR processes will save you masses of time. You can do all of that and more with BreatheHR.
Using automation software in your business
As you can tell, there are many benefits of using automation software in your business. Still, most benefits fall into one of two camps, and sometimes both:
- Taking on time-consuming and necessary but low-value processes that drain your time (and motivation!).
- Allowing you to automate processes like sales, marketing, and customer service to enhance service delivery and scale your business.
The benefits of using automation software, and the ease of doing so, are clear.
If you have not yet adopted automation software across your business, you are hugely diminishing your productivity and growth capability.