Owning a business is more than a job; it’s a way of life. All day, every day, you’re tasked with finding answers to complex questions, from how to reduce marketing costs to how to streamline manufacturing. The next time one of these problems comes across your desk, consider today’s most promising and efficient business solution—process automation.
Computer programs, such as ZohoCRM, allow you to automate basic marketing tasks, including lead generation, sales cycle analysis, sales projections and quota tracking. Many of these software packages also let you create detailed, shareable libraries of marketing materials and statistics. Automating these simple tasks allows your salespeople to spend their time on the high-level projects that will make your company profitable, such as designing new ads and converting leads.
Free and low-cost applications, including HootSuite, Buffer and IFTTT, can almost completely automate your business’ social media presence. You can write status updates in advance and program them for release at specific times. HootSuite allows you to monitor up to 5 of your social media profiles from the same application. Using IFTT, you can pre-design your responses to customers’ posts on your page. Process automation for your social media allows your business to interact with customers on all platforms, all the time, keeping your brand fresh and relevant.
If you’re building or assetmbling parts on a manual or cycle stop set-up, it may be time to consider upgrading to a programmable logic controller system. A PLC system determines your machinery’s output based on a programmed input. So, if your manufacturing facility has robotic arms that lift and turn parts, a sensor will first check for the part. If the part is present, the PLC will instruct the robotic arm to lift and turn. If the part has been dropped, the PLC will ask the arm to pause. You won’t have to wait through a full cycle of wasteful and potentially damaging production to reintroduce a dropped part. Instead, you’ll be able to resume manufacturing immediately. Automating production prevents damage to your machinery and factory floor while maximizing your time and resources.
Programs like Quicken, Mint and TurboTax offer financial planning tools for home and business money management. If you’re a small business owner hoping to easily sort your personal expenses from your business costs, these types of financial programs are ideal. You can automatically download online banking transactions and categorize expenses. Set up the proper parameters and you can even split a single expense between your business and personal accounts. Automating these basic financial tasks will give you a clear picture of your company’s fiscal position, without spending hours poring over the checkbook or scanning online bank statements.
Process automation is a modern, efficient solution to many of the problems your business faces on a daily basis. Everything, from your machinery to your social media presence, can be at least partially automated. This automation is crucial to your success because it reduces the time and money your company spends on simple tasks, allowing you to focus on the more nuanced and productive aspects of building your business.