We often talk about the benefits of business process automation but do you find the idea of automation a bit daunting? You may be keen to improve business performance, reduce human error and get rid of all the boring mundane tasks but wonder where on earth to start!
Wouldn’t it be easier if you had an automation blueprint? Like a recipe for automation success? That’s what we are talking about here, because at Solvaa we have developed the ‘𝟦-𝘚𝘵𝘦𝘱 𝘚𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘢𝘢 𝘈𝘶𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘔𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘥𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺®‘ which we use for all our clients to successfully create and implement business process automation strategies. It’s the perfect way to learn all about automation and how to use Zapier.
Read on to find out what our methodology is all about and how you can use it to become an automation superhero!
Why should I use a methodology?
There are many different business methodologies out there, and the reason they are successful is that they provide a framework for implementing business improvements. There are methodologies for different aspects of business modelling, including SWOT analysis, Lean Management, 5W1H, Total Quality Management, Agile – and many more! People throw these different terms around and there’s always a new kid on the block.
The reason they all exist is that it makes life easier to have some kind of framework, a strategy for doing the work you need to do in an organised, structured way. It’s like a recipe – you may be able to bake a cake with a dash of this and a drop of that, but if someone has shared the perfect Victoria sponge recipe then it makes sense to follow it. It gives you more chance of success, and takes the guesswork out of it.
It’s difficult to know which methodology will work for your business though, as there are so many to choose from and they may not be suited to what you’d like to achieve. Look no further though – we’ve done the hard work for you, and over the past few years have designed our own methodology for what we do best – creating and implementing automation strategies for clients so that they can reap the rewards of automation and work smarter, not harder.
What is the ‘4-Step Solvaa Automation Methodology®’?
Having implemented automation strategies for dozens of clients, we have combined the best parts of many of the well-known methodologies into our own blueprint, which we call the ‘𝟦-𝘚𝘵𝘦𝘱 𝘚𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘢𝘢 𝘈𝘶𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘔𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘥𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺®‘.
It’s a systematic approach to implementing automation in your business and is based on sound business process management principles. It’s also simple to use, so will work whether you’re a solopreneur or a medium-sized business; whether you’re working in a team or on your own to create workflow automations.
As you may have guessed, there are four key stages in the ‘𝟦-𝘚𝘵𝘦𝘱 𝘚𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘢𝘢 𝘈𝘶𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘔𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘥𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺®‘:
Step 1 : Identify
The IDENTIFY stage is all about gathering data and analysing the existing processes. You’ll be looking for opportunities to automate tasks where possible.
Step 2 : Plan
The PLAN stage is where you do the preparation work ahead of implementing the changes and building the workflows.
Step 3 : Execute
The EXECUTE stage is when you’ll actually create the automation workflows and test them.
Step 4 : Review
The REVIEW stage is the final step and is where you’ll monitor the new process. You’ll check there are no issues and get into the habit of reviewing it regularly for changes
Identify : the crucial first step
We regularly notice that people get frustrated when they embark on an automation journey when it doesn’t go as planned. They may not get the results they were hoping for and therefore give up.
This usually happens because they haven’t conducted the IDENTIFY stage which is absolutely crucial for automation success. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page at the start of the project.
It includes a project plan and a full analysis of your existing processes, including documenting them. You can then simplify them and decide which are the best candidates for automation.
Plan : Planning for success
The PLAN stage is important because it’s here that you will review your apps, and decide whether they can be connected using Zapier. Zapier is our favourite no-code automation tool because you don’t need to be a developer to use it and can quickly build powerful automations yourself. It connects over 6,000 apps, including many you will likely use every day in your business. During this stage you will assess the workflows and draft out how you will automate them.
Execute : Implement your automated workflows
Once you’ve designed your workflows you are ready to execute them. This will include optimising your existing apps as well as using Zapier to automate them. You should then test them thoroughly and document them for future reference. These can be simple documents created with Word or Google Docs, or dedicated apps such as ClickUp or Notion.
Review : continuous improvement is key
Another mistake that people make with automation is implementing process changes and automation and then sitting back, assuming your job is done. This is dangerous, because things can alter over time – whether it’s the data you’re processing, the apps you’re connecting or the people involved in the process – and you need to be able to cope with any or all of these changing.
That’s where continuous improvement comes in – which is at the core of our final stage – REVIEW.
Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve your processes. The final step of our ‘𝟦-𝘚𝘵𝘦𝘱 𝘚𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘢𝘢 𝘈𝘶𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘔𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘥𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺®‘ is to adopt a continuous improvement mindset. We would recommend a regular review of processes, in effect starting at the IDENTIFY step each time, to check for inefficiencies and errors. As the business grows you’ll introduce new processes which you should consider too, and could implement new apps as part of your software portfolio. Every time something changes it could impact your automation strategy, so by reviewing continuously you’ll always be ahead of the curve.
Getting started with expert support
Although we have outlined the principles of our ‘𝟦-𝘚𝘵𝘦𝘱 𝘚𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘢𝘢 𝘈𝘶𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘔𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘥𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺®‘ here, we appreciate that you’ll most likely need more information to be able to implement them yourself. If you want to learn more about Zapier, whether as a new user or seasoned pro who’s keen to know more, then having someone guide you through it can be a game changer.
That’s why we’ve launched the Solvaa Automation Academy. Our signature programme ‘Simple Automation Blueprint: Zero to Hero” is an 8-week blended learning course with on-demand videos, templates, resources and weekly group coaching sessions. Our Chief Problem Solver and Automator, Kelly Goss, who is also the author of Automate It with Zapier, will teach you how to supercharge your business processes with automation. It’s more than just a Zapier course (although we do show you how to use Zapier like a pro) as you’ll learn about Process Mapping, Business Process Improvement and Business Process Management too – principles that can be applied to other areas of business too! We run regular cohorts so there will be an opportunity for everyone to participate.
We will take students through every step of our methodology in detail, and are on hand for support every step of the way. We host live sessions where you can ask all your burning questions and pick our brains about what you’re planning to automate.
We explain all about cloud-based apps, APIs and automation terminology so that if you hear a term mentioned then you’ll understand exactly what it means.
If you’d like to find out more about our automation blueprint and Zapier course then click on the image below to learn how to really work smarter, not harder!
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.