A Guide to Pushing Fewer Buttons Through Automation

 In Best Practices, Blog, Business Intelligence

Name a more satisfying workplace accomplishment than figuring out how to save time while increasing accuracy and not sacrificing productivity. We’ll wait.

Did you come up dry? Don’t worry, it’s not due to a lack of imagination on your part. Nothing beats that sweet, sweet feeling of knowing that your processes are running efficiently. Except maybe the feeling of knowing that they’re running efficiently in the background while you’re focused on other, more important tasks (or maybe on your morning coffee).

The drive for workplace efficiency is where automation comes into play. Not surprisingly, automation solutions are becoming more and more common in the product-centric business software marketplace.

Automation is, without a doubt, the way of the future. Having to push the start button every time you need to initiate a common task already feels a little too old-school for a growing, motivated company. When we’re operating in a world where Marty the robot is in charge of finding spilled milk in the grocery store, wasting your valuable time on clicking buttons, entering data twice, or double-checking that your business processes are running smoothly shouldn’t be “just the cost of doing business.”

Why automation?

The main goal of any automation solution is to save a company time and money by providing ways to trigger common or redundant business tasks (such as emailing a customer when their order has shipped or creating a vendor receipt when inventory is received) automatically. Best-of-breed options will also offer data importing and exporting services and the ability to integrate with your other business software.

But how do you know which automation product is right for you and your company? As with any business software, there are a lot of considerations to keep in mind as you shop for the perfect solution.

The right automation solution will free up your time and drastically reduce the number of buttons clicked throughout the course of the workday. While conducting your research into the various automation options, using the following guidelines will make sure that your automation software does what you need it to do.

Automation is, without a doubt, the way of the future.

You’ll want to look for an automation solution that provides you with:

Time savings

This is an obvious requirement, but one that’s easy to overlook once your sales representative starts showing off all the bells and whistles of the software you’re considering. If the software is difficult to set up, requires a lot of maintenance, or otherwise tacks additional time onto your workday, that’s a big red flag.

The whole point of automation software is to save you time — don’t opt for a solution that’s going to require more time and effort to operate than it saves you.

Scheduling options

More likely than not, you’ve got certain business operations that occur on a regular, predictable basis. Maybe it’s an inventory audit at the end of every month, or maybe you send a sales report to management once a week.

Your automation solution should allow you to schedule these tasks in advance to get the ball rolling without you having to click a button or even be in the office.

Pertinent notifications

Even if you don’t want to push the button yourself, you might want to receive a notification that it was pushed. On the other hand, you probably don’t want to receive every single notification about each activity that your automation solution conducts.

Make sure that the automation software you choose lets you customize which notifications you receive, and how often you receive them.

Workflow improvements

Your automation solution shouldn’t just eliminate certain steps in your processes — it should enhance your existing workflows. Whether you use an ERP that offers customizable workflows within the software itself or your “workflows” are a more generalized system of conducting day-to-day operations, your automation software should make those workflows flow more smoothly and efficiently.

Data exchanges

Whenever you introduce another piece of software into your business suite, you run the risk of data inaccuracies across your various platforms. This is a potentially catastrophic issue that needs to be top of mind when choosing your automation solution.

The right automation software will easily import and export data between your other programs for you, ensuring that your data is consistent across platforms.

An intuitive interface

Ease of use is a big factor to consider with any software. If your automation software is hard to understand or use, or it’s complicated to the point where you and your coworkers run the risk of using it incorrectly, it could very well end up costing you time, rather than saving it.

The importance of an intuitive interface for automation software is heightened when you consider the potential consequences of using the software incorrectly. What if you intend to set up a scheduled email containing sensitive inventory data to your vendors, but you email that information to your customers instead, and because you scheduled the email to go out Friday evening, you don’t find out that you spammed your customers until Monday morning? Yikes!

An intuitive interface will not only make using the software that much easier, but it can save you from embarrassing errors and other costly mistakes.

Integration with your ERP solution

This might be the most important consideration on the list. Any software that has the potential to affect your inventory should integrate directly with your ERP solution, and that includes automation software.

Direct integrations prevent data discrepancies, keep inventory levels and financial data up-to-date, make communicating with your customers easier, and so much more. In short, there’s no good reason to not integrate with your ERP, but a long of great reasons to do so. While you’re shopping for the right solution for you and your company, prioritize software that offers a direct integration to your ERP software. You’ll be glad you did.

Automating your business processes is an exciting way to jump-start some positive growth for your company. To learn more about AutomationAgent, SalesPad’s automation solution, reach out to us, or sign up to watch this recording of one of our previous automation webinars.

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