It is easy to get trapped on the workplace treadmill, struggling to keep pace with daily tasks. Few opportunities arise where we, as busy professionals can take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture.

Recent events have made many businesses re-evaluate a lot. From my discussions with various business owners, it became abundantly clear that there are positives we can take forward from the recent pandemic. The most common and significant of which is to “Focus on what really matters” and this doesn’t just mean on work, but our family and hobbies too.

As previous behaviour patterns have been interrupted is important we reflect and rebuild to allow our employees to “focus on what ‘really’ matters”.

Automating tasks, activities and processes that would otherwise take up valuable man-hours can gift back time and more than you’d expect. In fact, just implementing marketing automation can save an average of 6 hours per week.

Now, If you or your team have a spare 312 hours a year then it probably isn’t worth you finishing this article.

In this blog, I’ll give you 6 questions to ask yourself before automating a process within your business. Remember, automation isn’t just for marketing, these general questions are a tool for automating any process within your business or place of work.

What’s your Goal?

As you can imagine, without understanding the goal of your automation moving through the proceeding questions can be a little tricky. 

Start with the end in mind. In terms of an end goal, people associate automation with increasing accuracy, saving time or enhancing customer experience. One or more of these high-level goals can be great when reflecting on what you have achieved down the line. 

At a lower level, we can set individualised goals, things we want to achieve from the specific automation. These are much more specific, helping you to develop a basic framework. 

Are you just trying to make a bad process made faster?

A mistake made by the masses is the choice to brush a bad process under the proverbial rug.

Automation provides significant value, therefore isn’t normally cheap. Automating processes with unnecessary human interactions or other inefficiencies can lead to increased cost and risk of things going wrong.

Before choosing to automate, this is an important question to ask. I wouldn’t be surprised if it results in saving both time and money in the long run.

Are humans required? If so, where and how much?

Humans are great, we have many skills that computers do not, but unfortunately quickly handling, entering or interpreting data at a rapid speed is not one of them.

The greater involvement from people, the more likely an errors will occur*. Processes that include vast amounts of human interaction should be streamlined, and occasionally, not automated at all.

What data and information are required?

As previously mentioned, don’t just automate an existing process, aim to make it more efficient. Asking this question can help reassess the best data and information used for specific processes, making them more efficient than before. 

Where are you going to get stuck?

Due to the very nature of some processes, there are opportunities for miscommunication or a lack of communication at all, leading to bottlenecks.

It remains important to keep an eye on your automated processes considering that bottlenecks are not always stable, they can change based on external factors. Short-term bottlenecks, caused by team members going on holiday or being off ill can lead to temporary problems.

How often will this process get reviewed?

As with many things, tracking, monitoring and adapting is key to long-term success. Ensure that you have a plan to review your automated to check whether they are performing as expected.

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