May 30, 2022
Essentials of office automation
Businesses are increasingly adopting office automation as part of a broader digital transformation process. Most companies these days are wise to the benefits of using office automation, especially when it comes to boosting productivity and keeping costs to a minimum. At the same time, many businesses do not fully realize what office automation involves or what it means.
While many businesses had already started to work in an increasingly digital manner before 2020, and were pushed further along that path thanks to the events of the past 12 months, going digital and fully utilizing office automation are two different things.
What is office automation?
Office automation is the process of data moving around your business without any human intervention. It also makes data movement quicker and more efficient, and cuts out inaccuracies, errors, and reduces the chances of data going missing.
All this is achieved through the use of office automation tools. Such tools can help to create, collect, store, and analyze the data your business relies on to operate. Many excellent office automation platforms exist. However, you may also integrate other apps with such a platform or implement office automation using your existing tech stack and integrations.
The biggest mistake businesses make is thinking that digitizing and automation are the same thing. However, just because your office does not need a filing cabinet, that does not mean you have automated your business. Many businesses go digital and spend time managing stuff digitally rather than physically. Their teams are still doing the work, so they have not actually automated at all!
What benefits can office automation bring to your business?
You could potentially come up with a list of dozens of benefits that office automation will deliver to your business.
Here are some of the biggest:
- Streamlining and improving processes.
- Identifying bottlenecks in workflows, which you can then improve with human intervention before automating the new and improved workflow.
- Removing human error.
- Reducing the processing time for datasets.
- Speeding up access to data.
- Getting better insights into business performance with confidence an automated system works consistently.
- Higher levels of confidence in your data and, consequently, the ability to make better decisions.
What functions should office automation tools deliver?
We will look closely at specific features next. However, as a minimum, an office automation tool should provide you with the ability to perform the following functions:
- Efficient data storage, reducing the volume of space you need, and storing data in efficient formats. This should include the ability to highlight and eliminate redundant data.
- Streamlining all elements of the data cycle, from collection and storage to retrieval and analysis.
- Instant retrieval of information of any type.
- Reduction of paperwork to zero.
What specific features should you look out for in office automation software?
If you are going to invest time in office automation, there is no point in doing things by half measures! To get more out of your office automation and enjoy a slicker digital transformation journey, look out for these features when searching for software.
1. No-code workflow designers
The whole point of embracing office automation is to make your job easier. Therefore, you need to find a tool that allows you to create workflows and put your office automation into practice without needing to spend $100 an hour on a developer to help you harness an API correctly.
In fact, we can expand this entire point to the whole tool and its ease of use.
The best way to find out how easy a tool is to use? Start a free trial. If you have been playing around for more than five minutes and still do not know what you are doing, find another tool.
2. Integration capability
Your office automation tool is likely going to be one of many things in your tech stack. You might already be using marketing automation software, a CRM tool, and various other apps in your business.
If you are going to add something else into the mix, you need to ensure it integrates with what you already use.
Why? Well, it comes back to this idea of data moving around itself. If you use an office automation tool that can manage data within its system but cannot send or receive data to and from other sources, you will need to do it manually. You are making one set of processes easier with one hand while creating more work with the other!
The best office automation tools will come with built-in integrations, while any that do not should make it easy to connect your tech stack using Zapier.
3. Reporting and analytics features
Whenever anyone tells me how fantastic a new app or tool they are using is, the first question I ask is always, "How do you know?"
Why am I telling you this story?
Because you need to ensure your office automation tool has comprehensive reporting and analytics for two critical reasons:
- You need analytics and reporting to highlight what your automation is doing, and so you can identify opportunities for improvement.
- Given you will invest in a subscription to use an office automation tool, you need to know that it is delivering a return on what you spend.
Without these features, how do you know if office automation has been a gamechanger for your business?
4. Mobile compatibility
It is 2021. I believe quite passionately that, by now, it should go without saying that software should have exceptional usability on mobile devices, either due to responsive design or a standalone app.
Unfortunately, there are still plenty of software providers out there that failed to get the memo, which is ironic considering their commitment to outdated ways of working.
It may sound harsh, but I would not even bother giving a chance to software providers who tell you their app is coming soon or in development. They are already years behind the curve, and you want to use office automation to get you ahead of it.
5. Access control
Even if you have a flat company structure – something we embrace here at Contractbook – you may still need some control around who can access and deal with what data. If nothing else, such a feature can save you a headache when complying with things like GDPR and other regulatory frameworks.
Making office automation part of your digital transformation
Many elements of your business are probably already digital. But how many of them are genuinely automated?
If you thought going digital changed the game for your business, then the impact office automation may have on your business could blow you away!
Start exploring office automation today and save time and money while giving back your team the power to work on more productive tasks that deliver value to your business.
Learn more about how Contractbook can help you with office automation.
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