How can automation help small businesses?

If business process automation could replace the repetitive, manual tasks carried out by your staff every day, imagine how they could use all that extra time.

Rapid advancement in Automation and AI are pillars of the digital revolution yet previously out of reach for SMEs. Not all automations need major system integration or a team of system experts. Today’s automation tools for SMEs have been designed with the user in mind. Low or no code tools such as Microsoft Power Automate make it possible for a departmental employee – with dedicated time and attention – to design an automated workflow that will dramatically lighten their daily workload. The low costs of these tools and their usability brings process automation well within the realms of possibility for SMEs.

The advantages of automation are wide-ranging and need little explanation; saving time, motivating employees with more interesting work, providing a better customer experience, and offering a modern workplace that attracts high performing staff.

What processes should small businesses automate?

Knowing where to start with business process automation can be daunting and it’s crucial to get this right in the early days. Often, we see businesses try and take on big, complicated processes in the hope of making big wins early on. Often this approach fails and affects the adoption of automation across the business in the longer term.

We recommend taking the opposite approach and starting with small wins. Starting with an uncomplicated process allows you to become familiar with the tools while you’re still getting to grips with the concept.

Small wins give staff a taste of what’s possible. This creates more automation ideas and a culture of continuous improvement. Here are just a few examples of some simple automations that make an enormous difference:

  • Distributing actions from a single form to different people or teams. When you receive an electronic form, different fields might contain information that requires action from different teams. Automation tools allow you to create rules based on the content. This ensures information, requests or actions are distributed to the relevant people.
  • Publishing a snapshot of useful information. The automation tools gather the data and posts it to your internal company channels in whatever format you choose. Who’s on holiday today? How are we doing against sales targets? What is our customer satisfaction score?
  • Automatically populating a shared file. Gathering information from other sources, the automation tools can populate a shared file for wider visibility of meeting room bookings, holiday or leave requests.

As a rule, you can ask yourself these questions to help you decide when and when not to automate:

Five questions to ask yourself when deciding what processes to automate

  • How often is the task repeated?
  • Would automation increase or reduce risk?
  • Is the process changing often?
  • Is the task prone to human error?
  • Is the task demotivating for staff?

If you’d like to know more about business process automation, you can Download our free guide here.  or simply get in touch.


Our certifications