To streamline your online business and set it on a path to sustained growth, it is essential that you automate your business operations as much as possible. Business process automation results in hands-free, systematic and result oriented output. You are sure to reduce overheads and improve your profitability – a worthy endeavor for any business owner or operator!
Automation makes your business scalable while enhancing the visibility. With increased visibility comes accountability, document management gets elegant and efficiency of the process is elevated. The concern which arises is – how do you decide a business process can be automated?
1) Identify processes in your business
There are situations when you need to move data from one place in your business to another. This can happen due to the disjointed systems, 3rd party software, sharing of business ownership, or maybe during a system upgrade. You must identify such processes where there is unnecessary human intervention, manual data entry and space for human error. These characteristics in particular indicate a process that is ripe for automation.
2) Look out for digital data sources
To further orchestrate the automation, determine if at all the origin of the data already has a digital source. Presence of a digital source signifies that the data can be recorded, replicated, transferred from one system to another with a high degree of precision. A digital source also indicates that process automation is possible.
3) Research the platform
Once you have recognised the presence of a digital source, investigate the platform which hosts the data. In other words, identify if the platform is WordPress, SalesForce, Fresh Books or any another 3rd party platform.
4) Find the application programming interfaces (API)
Most quality platforms will offer an Application Programming Interface (API) against which you can perform actions. This will of course need the expertise of a software developer or your tech team. However, a simple and potentially more long term cost effective option is to find an existing plugin or extension that has already been created to handle the task you're looking for.
If the API is available in the host, then certainly the entire process can be automated. The data which is generated from a digital source can be easily put into various designated systems, without any manual human intervention by using the API on the hosting platform. The data gets transferred from one system to another with precision, speed, and using limited resources.
5) When no API is available
If at all there is no API, then probably the process cannot be automated easily or maybe you need to set up an API before proceeding. Setting up of an API will be asking for additional resources, which you must validate in terms of its requirement and cost.
Automation of processes definitely streamlines your business to support the growth and scalability, especially in a highly competitive ecosystem, but you must scrutinize the advantages and disadvantages. Only after validating the need and the profitability with a larger perspective should you decide to automate a process.
Also, understand that not any or every process needs automation. Keeping certain processes with manual intervention is always advisable and recommended.