Running a small business is hard, and sometimes it seems like technology can just add to the workload. Thankfully, business process automation is becoming more and more accessible.
In 2018, social media posting and online store management have become almost mandatory for most businesses to keep up.
So yes, some has been added to the plate, but we also have new tools to make time-consuming tasks fly by.
Here are the seven things your small business should automate in 2018.
1. Social Media Posting
Your social media presence is a great place to start. There is a huge opportunity to increase productivity with business process automation.
Social posts have to be spread out over time. This means setting aside several times throughout the day to post, breaking focus that was being spent on other projects.
Also, if you forget to post, there’s no way to go back and make up for downtime.
This means you can set aside a chunk of time once a week to create and schedule your content, and then not worry about it for the rest of the week. A huge improvement on breaking up your day to post.
Of course it’s ok to supplement scheduled posts with in-the-moment content if inspiration strikes. But it’s nice to not have the pressure of posting multiple times per day.
Some social media tools have plugins that can allow the automation to go even further.
Do you have a blog? WordPress has plugins that can allow you to automatically share new blog posts on different social channels.
There are even services like MeetEdgar, which analyze posts that have the best impact and automatically recycle that content.
Take a look at the options in this space and see which one would work well for you. Most offer free options or trials, so it’s a good idea to test them out and see the impact before committing.
2. Office Supplies
Yes, it’s time to automate ordering and delivering of office supplies.
Many businesses regularly get shipments to refill supplies over the course of the year or make regular trips to the store.
If someone is doing this for your business, you have an opportunity to save time with small business automation.
Services like Office Depot subscriptions or Amazon Subscribe and Save allow you to schedule items to be delivered regularly. Whether it’s paper and pencils or water and crackers, you can have them automatically show up when you need them.
Cutting the number of tasks on your, or an employee’s, plate frees up brain space for more important projects. Putting office supplies on auto-pilot is a great way to cut down on repetitive tasks, which is a main goal of business process automation.
It’s important to audit these services every few months to ensure that you aren’t overspending or being undersupplied. We recommend evaluating each quarter to see how things are going.
3. Expense Reporting
If you are reimbursing employees for work-related expenses, it’s time to automate. It will save time and headaches for all involved.
Stuffing receipts into your wallet, squinting to read crumpled totals and pouring over confusing guidelines. These are all hallmarks of how expense reporting has worked.
We know the whole process is a bummer, so we made Fetch. A fully modernized expense reporting app, that really does make the entire process easy for employees and admins.
Fetch couples a sleek, simple mobile app for submitting expenses with an easy-to-use admin dashboard for approving and managing reimbursements. You can even pay employees back from within Fetch.
Take a look at your own process. See if both the people submitting the expenses and those managing and reimbursing them are happy.
Likely, there’s room for improvement.
4. Time Tracking
Whether you’re tracking time to bill a client or tracking employee hours, technology has made business process automation easier.
Punch cards and time sheets are subject to human error and require work to total up hours.
There are a lot of apps in this space, so do some research and see which one is going to fit your needs the best.
One of the most popular is TSheets. Apps like TSheets allow you to track employee hours and even schedule shifts.
Mobile apps make it easy for employees to work remotely and still be able to clock in and out.
Another big advantage of automating time tracking is getting data and reports of how time is being spent. This can help you find and eliminate inefficiencies in your business.
There is a large opportunity for business process automation here. Many companies still use text documents to manually type up invoices for clients.
This is time-consuming and vulnerable to human error.
Software, like Freshbooks, allows you to quickly and easily create professional looking invoices. It will even automatically calculate tax and charge the client’s credit card.
This is also a great way to organize your business income as the invoices will already be in an accounting platform. This makes it easy to get totals and confirm if invoices have actually been paid.
Some invoicing software even includes a time-tracking feature.
Onboarding new employees takes time, and often requires another employee to put their work on hold while they help train.
It’s also common for one employee to understand their job more than anyone else in a small company. It can be hard to train a replacement to do the same quality of work if an employee leaves.
Business process automation can reduce the burden the training while improving outcomes.
Trainual helps business owners to document the different job functions within their business. No more confusing walls of text in Google docs or hours wasted trying to explain a task to a new employee.
Trainual lets you get the basics to a new hire in a manageable, easy to comprehend way.
Poor training is a big issue for businesses. Having a complete system in place can be a game changer for the effectiveness of new hires.
Ever find yourself typing the same things over and over? There’s an easy to avoid that.
Text expanders like Breevy allow you to type a full sentence with just a few keystrokes. There’s a little set-up involved, but it makes a big difference when you get to stop typing the same string over and over.
Some programs now have built-in text expanders. So if the repetitiveness of emailing clients ever gets to you, know there is a quicker way to say what you need to say.