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Your operation is the engine room of your business and automating the processes there can free up valuable time to spend winning more business or serving your customers better.

If you’re wondering what operations processes can be automated then we have plenty of ideas, as well as specific examples of apps which can be connected to streamline your team’s workflows.

 

Why should you automate operations processes?

Once you’ve sold your product or service, you will need to fulfil the order and answer any queries your customers may have.  You may have to produce the end product and then arrange delivery, or have a number of procedures associated with delivering the service you provide.  If these processes are inefficient then you will waste time, and your customers’ experience will be poor.  If you fail to respond to customer service queries, for example, or make errors in the operation then you will lose business, and therefore money.

Therefore, automating your operations processes has a number of benefits:

  • Fewer manual tasks.
  • Less errors.
  • Consistent processes.
  • Saves time.
  • Happier staff and customers!

 

Which areas of your operation can you automate?

Operations functions vary between businesses, but many share core tasks which can be incredibly inefficient.  These include project and task management, document storage, communications via email, phone or SMS, word processing and spreadsheets.

The first thing you need to do is make a list of your software applications and then document your processes.  We have written about how to document your processes in great detail, and it’s well worth taking time to do this as you can often remove duplication or redundant steps when they’re all mapped out.  There’s no point trying to automate an inefficient process!

Once you have a list of processes then you can prioritise them to get some quick wins, automating the ones which cause most pain first.

 

How to automate project management processes

Even if you don’t use premium project management software, you’ll likely have some kind of system for managing your to-do lists.  You might keep track in notes on your phone, or use a spreadsheet.  The free versions of some apps are often rich in functionality, such as Asana or Trello.  Or you might use Microsoft To Do, ToDoist or Google Tasks.

These apps can be connected using Zapier, which means you can trigger workflows when new tasks are added.  If a new Zoom meeting is scheduled you can automatically add it to your calendar and create a task for any prep you’ll need to do.

You can connect your emails to the project management app, to create new projects, tasks or subtasks for flagged emails.  Zapier can integrate with Gmail and Microsoft Outlook, and you can also track time spent on a task and record it against the project automatically using a tool like Toggl.

Female worker carrying two brown boxes for a delivery.

You can link your task management app to finance software such as Xero or Quickbooks, for example to send an invoice when a particular task type is completed.

 

How to automate document storage processes

Your business is likely to process many different types of documents, from invoices and purchase orders to proposals and contracts.  If these aren’t stored in an organised manner then you won’t be able to find one when needed, and having an automated filing system means that you can relax in the knowledge that it’s all taken care of.

There are a few options for document storage apps which can be connected to your other systems using Zapier, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive.  Examples of how you might automate document storage include :

  • Storing PDF email attachments (such as expenses).
  • Storing contracts once they’ve been signed in your CRM.
  • Archiving images which have been posted on Facebook.

You can also trigger automations from the storage app, for example if a new file is added to a specific folder on your Google Drive then you could send a notification to your team using Slack.

As part of your customer onboarding, you could create a folder for them in your storage solution automatically when a deal is marked as ‘won’ in your CRM.

 

How to automate communication processes

There many different communication channels which can be automated using Zapier, including:

  • Email.
  • SMS.
  • Slack.
  • Video Conferencing.

Examples of how you can automate these include setting up Zoom meetings when an appointment is made using a calendar app such as Calendly or a CRM like Dubsado.

You can create a sales cadence for new leads in Pipedrive, as explained in more detail in this blog post.  This would automatically send emails and prompts for telephone calls or direct messages at specified intervals.

You can add people to your email list and tag them to receive specific campaigns using platforms such as Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign.

Other communications apps which can be connected to your other software include Slack, VoodooSMS and Slybroadcast.

 

How to automate document and spreadsheet processes

It’s likely that you’ll generate many standard documents in your business, and if you use a cloud-based app such as Google Docs or Zoho Writer then you can create text-based files and documents really easily.

You can create presentations using Google Slides where data is populated automatically from a Google Sheet spreadsheet.  Or you can post a presentation automatically on a Slack channel or on social media such as Twitter or LinkedIn.

There are so many automations you can configure using spreadsheets such as Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.  You can trigger a workflow when a new row is added, or a row is updated.  You can automatically add rows using a trigger in another app.  You can even create new spreadsheets, or new sheets in an existing spreadsheet.

The possibilities are truly endless, and if you want to find out more, with examples of triggers for each app and action events then Kelly’s book, Automate It with Zapier, is available on Amazon.  It is perfect for guiding you through a range of automations and you can download her templates to get started really quickly. Here are links to Amazon (.co.uk) and Amazon (.com) to get yours now.

The book is perfect for new Zapier users as well as seasoned pros. 

And finally, if you’re really keen to transform your business using automation then we will be launching the Solvaa Automation Academy in early 2022, providing you with a bunch of training courses to help you run your business on autopilot.  You can join the wait list below to keep up to date with the latest news. 

 

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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