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Virtual assistant at a work desk facing the camera and smiling with a computer monitor in the foreground.

 

Our Chief Problem Solver, Kelly, recently had the pleasure of speaking at the Practically Perfect virtual summit for assistants, talking all about the tools and technologies which can help VAs, executive and personal assistants to boost efficiency.

If you’re a service provider such as a bookkeeper, accountant, business analyst, virtual assistant, or online business manager (OBM), we have created a free masterclass (which you can access below), so that you can learn all about supercharging productivity with automation too.  If you help businesses with their day-to-day tasks and want to help them improve their business processes, or implement these principles in your own business, then this masterclass is for you. You can sign up below.

 

Kelly’s own lightbulb moment

Back in 2015 Kelly was sitting at her computer on a dreary Sunday at 4pm, finishing her VAT return, which was due the next day.  Doing VAT returns manually anytime is bad enough, but she had just finished yet another 70-hour week of managing her veterinary clinic’s sales, operations, and finance by day, and then was knocking out social media and other marketing activities at night.

Although they had the right systems doing the right jobs, it was all done manually, and nothing was connected.   Data had to be entered in multiple places, and there was plenty of room for error.

What’s more, the more successful the business became, the more work there was to do!  She was so busy treading water that she never had the time to connect the automation dots.

Then Kelly discovered Zapier, which has the ability to connect more than 2000 software tools that firms would normally use independently to run their businesses.  She was really excited because it validated that she wasn’t crazy, and it was possible to work smarter not harder.  The tasks just needed simplifying, integrating, and automating!

 

How Kelly helps businesses now

The beauty of Zapier is that you don’t need to hire an expensive developer to connect your systems.  You too can harness the power of automation to increase productivity, and Kelly has proved this as she doesn’t have an IT background.  She is proud to be one of the very few female Zapier Certified Experts listed on Zapier’s own website.

Now, Kelly works with businesses every day to streamline their processes and reduce (or eliminate) manual tasks.  Learning about Zapier literally changed her life, building a business, which means she can work from anywhere in the world, with flexibility in her day.  She really does work smarter, not harder, and her mission is to prevent other business owners from falling into the same overworked and overwhelmed state she was in.

 

How can business process automation help with productivity?

Many companies have systems that don’t communicate with each other.  Their processes are super manual, extremely time consuming, and prone to human error. 

Introducing the right software tools and connecting them together allows them to significantly improve productivity. 

Business Process Automation (or BPA) is all about using technology to perform repeated tasks that would normally be done by a human.

Supercharging productivity with automation means you can focus on the tasks which truly matter for the success and growth of the business.

Beware!

Automating business processes comes with a warning though; you shouldn’t automate an already-inefficient process.   Instead, take a step back, look at the process holistically and identify the steps which would benefit from BPA.

 

What are the benefits of business process automation?

The main benefits of business process automation are:

  • Reduced manual data entry and error.
  • Reduced operational costs.
  • More time for sales activities.
  • Better customer service.
  • Increased staff engagement and satisfaction.
Virtual assistant at her desk, checking her smartphone with a computer screen in the background displaying a colourful bar chart.

The no-code revolution

An integration is simply an exchange of data between two applications.  Many cloud-based applications, such as Xero and Pipedrive, include their own prebuilt integrations.  Their developers have spent time writing code to link with the apps which their users most often need to share data with.   Their websites will list these apps, but these tend to be limited and are unlikely to connect with the smaller, less-used applications.

If you want to connect with another app that isn’t available as a pre-built integration then what are your options?   Developers are expensive to hire, so it’s unlikely to be financially viable.

Instead, you can use no-code tools that act as a bridge between thousands of cloud-based apps.  These allow users to build business-specific workflow automations with a simple visual editor using pre-built integrations.   These integrations seamlessly perform repetitive tasks without human intervention.

The beauty of no-code solutions for linking different applications is that you don’t need advanced technical skills to use them.  Our favourite no-code tool is Zapier, and we love it because it’s easy to use, has a powerful free version, and connects over 2,000 applications!

 

Examples of automations using Zapier

These are some of the popular business processes we’ve built using Zapier, but the possibilities are endless!

  1. Removing duplicate data entry in multiple systems to SAVE TIME.
  2. Reminders for Zoom and other meetings means NO MORE MISSED CALLS!
  3. Sending an email sequence when finishing a job to ask for customer feedback results in MORE TESTIMONIALS.
  4. Supercharge your customer onboarding by automatically adding their information to your CRM, sending them a contract, creating meetings and setting up workshops to STREAMLINE YOUR BUSINESS.
  5. Analysing your processes to connect the apps will REDUCE MANUAL ADMIN.
  6. Never forgetting to chase a lead again by setting up a sales sequence of text messages and emails means you will WIN MORE BUSINESS!

How to set up your first automated workflow with Zapier

With just a few simple steps you can set up your first automation with Zapier.

  1. First, you’ll need to register for an account with Zapier. We recommend the free version so that you can have a go without any commitment, and you even get a free trial of the professional plan for 14 days.
  2. From your dashboard, select one of the apps you use to see what integrations Zapier will suggest. You can then choose which app you’d like to connect it to, and Zapier displays a list of pre-built integrations that people have already used.  This is so useful as it will give you ideas about how you can use Zapier in your own business.  You can simply click ‘Try This’ to set one up for yourself!
  3. For each zap you’ll see the ‘trigger’ step which is ‘when this happens’, and the ‘action’ step which is ‘do this’. For each app that you connect you tell Zapier what will trigger it and then what to do when the trigger happens.
  4. All you need to set up the zap is to connect to your apps by logging in once, and authorising Zapier to use them, and that’s it! Zapier will remember the connection parameters and use them every time the zap triggers.
  5. Turn on the zap, sit back and relax, knowing you’re working smarter not harder!

How automation can help improve your turnover as a business consultant

We recently shared a blog post 5 reasons why automation can help assistants, which includes how learning automation can help you earn more.  If you’re a service provider such as a bookkeeper, accountant, business analyst, virtual assistant, or online business manager (OBM), who helps businesses with their day-to-day tasks then you could offer business automation consultancy to help those clients optimise their processes.  It doesn’t take long to become familiar with Zapier and once you’ve seen how useful it can be, you’ll want to share the love!  It’s an extra string to your bow, which could prove to boost your turnover…

 

Next steps

Would you like to find out more about supercharging productivity using automation with Zapier?

Step 1: Sign up for our FREE MASTERCLASS below.

Step 2: If you’re a beginner then you might like our free e-book, An Essential Guide To Business Productivity.

Step 3: If you’ve used Zapier a little then our Zapier cheat sheet lists all their inbuilt apps such as SMS by Zapier and Formatter by Zapier.  You can harness these inbuilt apps for many different workflows, so we highly recommend digging deeper and learning more about them.

Step 4: And finally, we are so excited to be launching a new course in 2021, Harnessing The Power Of Zapier. You can get on the wait list here so you don’t miss the latest news and launch details.

GO FORTH AND AUTOMATE!

 

Read more about how our certified experts use Zapier workflow automations to simplify processes and increase efficiency.

Solvaa is a process and automation consultancy specialising in improving sales, operations and financial administration workflows. We help you to simplify and streamline existing processes, integrate your business tools to make data transfer more efficient and automate manual tasks to increase productivity. We are Zapier Certified Experts, Pipedrive Certified Experts and Xero Certified Advisors. 

Contact us today to discuss how Solvaa can help you simplify, improve and automate all aspects of your business with Zapier to save you time, reduce costs and keep you agile as you grow.

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