Sometimes we hire people into a position and give them tools to make the work happen. While the person can do the job, it’s very likely that the way we are telling them how to do the job is time consuming or could be improved. 

Months later when we are doing a routine task with them, we may notice that the way they are building reports, collecting data, or going about a given task is time consuming. Obviously, we want to help them be more efficient in their work. A more efficient staff can increase their output and reduce costs, while making the person happier in the process. It’s a win-win situation. 

So, what are some ways we can make people spend less time collecting data and more time taking action?

When talking with different business owners, sometimes they are surprised at how easy it is to start the automation process. I believe the best way to go about automating different tasks is to cause as little disruption for the staff as possible. For instance, I’ve seen many people download data (either in CSV or Excel format) and use Excel to filter the data out. Assuming the process takes 25 minutes per day, we are talking about 2 hours a week consumed by  this task per person. That’s over 2 weeks a year of wasted effort! Not to mention that if the person leaves, someone else has to figure out how to make the report and they may miss some steps in the process, creating chaos and more wasted effort. The solution in this case may be an Excel macro. A macro is a programmatic way of telling Excel what to do with the data. We have used it with several clients and it’s an easy way to get started with automation. 

What if you’re not using Excel but your own system?

Another common scenario is people downloading data from one system to update another. You may have your sales representatives downloading sales data and giving it to some manager or a person in accounting to estimate commissions, for example. In this case, you need information on both systems but they don’t talk to each other. Nowadays, most cloud providers have marketplaces where you can find connections between the systems. I would recommend searching for that first. If there’s no connection between the systems, then you may want to consider building your own. Building your own connection is easy, creating streamlined communication between your systems. Your staff will no longer waste time doing that task and disruptions are eliminated. 

More complex needs

While the two methods I explained previously are good starting points to applying automation to your business, sometimes, companies have more complex needs. If your company is using several systems and it feels you have reached the limit, then it’s a good idea to think about building your own system. Your own system can connect to others while providing your employees with a clean user interface that reduces the time it takes them to accomplish tasks. Moreover, having your unique system allows you to think outside the box and improve other aspects of your offering. For instance, you may create a system where your employees execute tasks and provide visibility for  your customers to  access that information and even receive notifications about new activity. 

You are the solution, let us show you how

Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel comfortable coming to your office to tell you the company processes are inefficient and suggest solutions. Therefore, it’s upon us, the business leaders, to identify and help articulate the problem and empower employees to be part of the solution. If you think you have a process that’s not effective, I would love to brainstorm with you possible solutions. Let’s connect and start the process of improving your operations.