Not all tasks are equal. Some are vital building blocks of your goals, while others drain mental energy. Many, however, are simply time-consuming, eating away at your most precious resources — and your bottom line.
The solution to this dilemma is automation. Setting up tasks to run in the background with minimal intervention benefits every area of business. In a world where workers unwittingly waste nearly $2 trillion doing repetitive tasks and even CEOs spend over 20 percent of their time on tasks that can be automated, it pays to examine how each task gets done.
Here’s a quick guide on how to get started with automation, plus some ideas for your office.
Tasks that can be automated: How to identify them
To make automation a success, go to your employees first. Ask your team to audit their time and think of how they can better carry out their responsibilities. For example, maybe one administrator spends nearly 40 percent of their time on repetitive tasks, and an automation program can cut that down, allowing them to better contribute their talents to the company.
Also revisit your processes and workflows to see where they can be faster. The Harvard Business Review recommends thoroughly analyzing your tasks by deconstructing them to better understand those that can be automated. When you and your team break down each task within your processes and workflows, you can research which tools will best suit your needs.
7 tasks you should automate
Need a better picture of how automation can benefit your office? Here are seven business tasks that can (and should) be automated.
1. Back up data
It’s the worst outcome possible: Critical records and important files disappear because of a power failure, faulty electronics, or even just an accident. The best way to avoid this situation is to consistently back up your files by keeping them in the cloud.
Backup tools designed to keep businesses connected to the cloud assure that workers never have to think about the last time they saved a document or updated their portable hard drives.
2. Approve accounting documents
From paying invoices to filing purchase orders, accounting tasks require tedious data entry and a sharp eye to avoid costly and annoying mistakes.
Workers who manage both accounts payable and accounts receivable oversee plenty of recurring tasks that can be automated with bookkeeping software. These programs check math, prefill forms based on past information, send out queries for quotes, add and subtract form amounts from allocated funds, and send forms to higher-ups for approval.
3. Document travel expenses
No one wants to meticulously collect receipts only to lose them or later find that they’re illegible. Document scanning apps allow traveling workers to take pictures of receipts, add notes, and instantly digitize them.
All of this paperwork is then stored in the cloud, so human resources managers and employees alike can instantly communicate on expenses, reducing the chances of discrepancies and speeding up reimbursements.
4. Schedule social content
Most businesses know the importance of being active on social media. But not all of them have the time to post consistently, one of the keys to getting likes and comments.
Social media tools can automatically schedule posts and promotions so you can focus on creating engaging content and planning social campaigns. These tools can even analyze your reach across social media channels so you can tweak your automation for the best engagement.
5. Improve customer service
Your customers want responses quickly, and you want to let them know you care about their issues. Thankfully, customer service includes many tasks that can be automated.
You can send an automatic email to respond to inquiries, use a chatbot to interact with customers, or collect responses from a satisfaction survey. Customers feel better connected to your company when they see a message that says you’ll take care of their concerns as soon as you can.
6. Schedule meetings
It’s often difficult to find a good time to schedule a meeting — especially as work becomes more global, with employees scattered across various time zones. Calendar tools can identify room in several calendars at once to schedule meetings at an appropriate time for everyone.
7. Nurture sales leads
Customer relationship management (CRM) programs can automate aspects of the sales funnel journey so your sales representatives can deliver higher quality service. CRM tools create a database of lead contact information and interactions, forward incoming inquiries to sales representatives, and give you a broad view of which leads are likely to convert.
Jotform for automation
As you delve into the world of automation, you’ll see it doesn’t truly come alive until you have the right tool. Jotform allows you to fast-track your processes and give you a leg up on tasks that can be automated.
Starting with the basics, Jotform’s thousands of customizable form templates simplify document management for human resources, e-commerce, and other industries. And they’re online, so you never have to worry about losing information. You can even monitor and fill out forms on the go with the Jotform Mobile Forms app.
You can build approval workflows in Jotform Approvals to automate a wide variety of business requests with your forms. For automated data collection and analysis, there’s Jotform Tables, a spreadsheet-database tool that gathers form information and displays it in interactive formats, such as calendars, budgets, social media calendars, to-do lists, timesheets, and call logs. And Jotform connects to other automation programs through a wide variety of integrations.
Take control of your tasks before they get out of hand — with automation, your tasks will actually serve you.