The degree of automation in the business arena is rising so quickly, it’s becoming a question of either automating your business or getting automated out of business. It’s a crucial concern for both long-standing businesses and startups.
Some examples of processes I’ve automated in my business are sales prospecting (D7 Lead Finder, Hunter.io, HubSpot), prospect meetings (Calendly, Microsoft Flow, Office 365), and client on boarding (Process.st, Trello, Zapier).
Often the problem with automating business processes is business owners are confused about where to start. This is especially true of a company that has a solid foundation without much automation built-in. The solution to that problem is to start with a no code platform, such as Bubble.io. This article covers the basics of how to do that.
Automation, Buzzword or Lifeline?
All the talk about automation is reaching a fever pitch in the business world. And, to some, that’s a positive thing that should be encouraged. Others are not quite so gung-ho about it.
It’s undeniable that business process automation is happening, but what does it really entail? Well, it’s not all that complicated. It’s about taking processes that run your business and organizing them through workflows. That is, creating a sequence of tasks to process data.
Think about any process in your business and you can probably easily imagine how it can be automated wholly or in part.
Automating Your Processes
There are two challenges in automation. The first is determining what exactly it is that needs to be automated. The second is figuring out how to organize workflows correctly for that process and ultimately build the solution.
For the first part, you can use a series of logical steps to arrive at an answer. The second part will involve sifting through software development options.
Here’s how to start:
1. What Do You Want to Achieve?
Before you can start working on a solution, you must know what outcome you’re seeking. No amount of automation will help you if you’re not sure what you need.
There are two approaches. You can simply see it as a problem that needs a straightforward solution. And this may be the best approach if you’re dealing with a process or workflow that will remain static for the next year or two. In this case, it’s all about finding a solution that’s already out there for a problem you know you have that you won’t have to customize very much.
The second approach is a lot more future-proof and acknowledges that the solution will need to change as the process and the business both evolve. It involves strategically achieving an outcome and building a solution from — or almost from — scratch.
2. Which Process Needs Automation?
Once you know what outcome you’re looking to achieve, you need to figure out which process is best positioned to make that happen. For any problem, there are likely to be several processes that intersect with it. Ideally, you’ll be able to identify the one that is simplest to automate and makes the biggest impact on achieving the desired outcome.
For instance, if the outcome you’re trying to achieve is a better rate of customer acquisition, you might try to automate the onboarding process, so customers have an easier time accessing your services. Alternatively, you could try to optimize the workflows that leverage your existing customer network.
This might involve looking at one big process through a new lens. Breaking down a big process into discrete processes and further into tasks will help you visualize how that process can be automated.
Trying to automate every process that touches the outcome at once is not usually feasible. Instead, approach this methodically and start with the most relevant processes first.
When you find the processes that you’re most concerned about, figure out how they can be broken down into manageable pieces.
This involves breaking down the decision points of each workflow, steps involved for each participant, which data is required for each step, etc. Doing this now will save you a lot of time and effort later. You can do this by simply diagramming out the process and workflow.
This process will be very similar to what you’ll be doing when the software development starts. No code platforms make it possible to visually create your solutions much the same way as if you were breaking down a process. You can quickly and affordably build a solution tailored exactly to your particular needs.
4. Budget and Expectations
Once you have the outcome laid out and the processes mapped, you need to know how big your budget is going to be. You can achieve a lot on a small budget, but it’s probably better to have a broad range because you will inevitably be exposed to two variables as the automation goes forward.
The first is changing needs. You shouldn’t hope to nail down exactly what you need and how right out of the gates. Unexpected changes will certainly be necessary down the line.
The second is potentially better solutions that you hadn’t considered. As you speak with vendors and explore new ideas you might come across something that is outside your budget but makes for a better solution.
5. Do It With Bubble
At this point, you’re ready to decide on which platform you want to use to implement the automation. Luckily for you, the decision doesn’t have to be too difficult.
Sometimes it pays to get an expert involved, but if you compare the relative benefits of Bubble to other platforms — and you’re invited to do so — you’ll see it’s the ideal platform for most small-to-mid-sized automation projects.
Automate Your Way to Success
Automation is not just a passing fad, it’s the new way to do business and companies ignore it at their own peril. The automation process doesn’t have to be all that complicated. It’s all about finding the right outcome to pursue.
When you know what you’re trying to achieve, it’s a matter of breaking down the processes involved. Then, with the workflows organized, and a budget in place, you just need to decide on the right platform and get to work. To learn more about how we can automate your process, visit us at mvp.dev now.