Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) account for 97% of all businesses in Australia. These businesses range in scope, size, and industry, but they share one important problem. The need to increase productivity. Improving productivity is the only way to stay competitive in today’s economy. While there are many ways to increase productivity, one of the most important is automation. Automating repetitive tasks frees time and resources for your team to focus on important and meaningful tasks.
The importance of automating tasks for small businesses
Small businesses need to automate tasks for the following reasons:
1. Increased Efficiency
Automating tasks increases efficiency in multiple ways. Firstly, automated tasks are faster and more accurate than manual processes. A human accountant could make a mathematical mistake when calculating your financial ratios. But Microsoft spreadsheets can’t make mistakes.
Secondly, automating tasks frees your employees to focus on more important tasks. For example, instead of calculating financial ratios, your accountant could figure out how to save your company money.
In these two ways, automation frees your business to maximise its resources and improve productivity. Your business will accomplish more with less time and fewer resources.
2. Consistency and accuracy
Automating tasks removes human errors. Think back to our accountant example. Automated tasks are completed in the same way repeatedly. This lack of variation improves consistency and accuracy. This principle doesn’t just apply to data entry tasks.
Take customer service tasks for instance. Automating customer service tasks ensures customers receive the same responses. You don’t want different customers to receive different responses for the same queries. Standardisation keeps your workflow consistent in quality.
Automated tasks are easier to scale up. With manual tasks, you need to increase your labour force or their number of hours. With automated tasks, you may not need to increase anything. For example, Microsoft Excel will process 1,000 calculations for you at the same cost as processing 10.
This enables your business to spend less money and energy to scale up. Suppose you have an automated inventory system for your Shopify brand. When you scale up, you won’t need to hire additional labour to track your inventory. The system will do it for you.
Areas where automation gives the most benefits
Automation is the most useful in the following business areas.
1. Accounting and finance tasks
Traditional accounting involves manually tracking data and performing calculations. This is no longer an efficient approach in today’s age. The sheer number of documents and data involved makes manual entry and calculations too complicated. Yet, tracking financial data is vital for any Australian business.
Automation can do most of the work for you. For example, you can automate transaction recording with software like Xero. You can even use Xero to generate financial reports and process payroll.
Automated accounting software even improves doing your taxes in the following ways:
- Error minimisation: Automation ensures your data is accurate and complete.
- Better tax law compliance: Automating financial data ensures you follow all tax requirements.
- Audit assistance and protection: If required, you can use your records to quickly verify your company’s tax compliance.
2. Marketing and sales tasks
Marketing and sales automation involves using AI to streamline marketing and sales tasks. Marketing and sales are both critical aspects of business management. But they’re also both time-consuming and expensive. Automating marketing and sales will free your sales and marketing teams for more valuable work.
For example, CRM software like Salesforce can automate lead management for you. Hootsuite can schedule and publish your social media posts.
3. Human resources tasks
Automation helps HR better manage the hiring and employee management process. For example, your HR team can use automation for the following purposes:
- They can build a centralised pool of candidates when hiring.
- They can search across resumes for keywords.
- They can build automated workflows that let team members review resumes in real-time.
- They can automatically send email notifications during the onboarding process
- They can streamline communication between the HR department and management.
Automating these tasks improves your HR team’s efficiency and saves them time and resources. They can then redirect their saved time and energy to important tasks, like retaining your top talent.
4. Customer service tasks
There are two aspects of customer service automation: internal and external. Internal automation involves improving the workflow among customer service team members. This speeds up the communication process among your customer service team.
External automation involves automation parts of the customer interaction process. For example, you can use AI chatbots to answer common customer questions. The chatbots have instant response times and provide identical information. The result is that customers quickly receive relevant information.
Both types of automation have the same effect. They save time and energy for your business.
5. Inventory management
Inventory management is a vital task for product-based businesses. Tracking orders, managing inventory, and maintaining records are all complex tasks.
Automating inventory management saves you time and resources. You’re also left with more accurate records. And it’s easier for you to expand with an automated inventory management system than a manual one.
Automation has real benefits for small businesses. The International Data Corporation found that businesses that automate receive an average return of 223% on their investment. Increased automation also correlates with higher job satisfaction for employees since they’re free to perform more meaningful work.
That being said, automation isn’t always desirable. AI software can’t always more efficiently replace human labour. So don’t automate everything at once. Instead, follow a case-by-case approach. Analyse each task for its automation potential. And only automate tasks that would save you money and energy.
In conclusion, automation has great potential to improve small businesses. It frees time and energy across departments by ending monotonous work. And it gives your employees time and space to focus on meaningful work. This enables you to see improvement in both your bottom line and your employee’s job satisfaction.
That said, automation isn’t easy. It’s a complex process, and you won’t want to overdo it. You may even need a helping hand to start the process. If so, you can contact PowerbITs today to receive a free consultation for your automation needs.