Once in the realm of science fiction, automation has now advanced to a level few could have predicted. The evolutionary leap from geared mechanisms to scalable algorithms is set to forever change the way people interact with technology and each other.
And the best thing is – advanced automation technology is no longer available to the select few enterprises that can afford it. Small business owners can take advantage of automation software and optimize processes for better efficiency.
To help you understand the benefits, this article takes a closer look at three popular applications. Plus, you’ll get to know the pros and cons of building custom-developed automation.
Calendly is powerful automation software that allows you to easily create schedules and facilitate more efficient communication. This app does away with time-consuming and laborious administration before setting up a meeting. In fact, it instantly connects hot prospects. But how does it all work?
The app links to your calendar and other business apps such as video conferencing software, CRM, and marketing automation tools. You’re required to set your availability within the app itself, but from there on you’re only a click away from a meeting.
To explain, the invitees to a meeting get an email with an embedded Calendly link. They then get to choose a time slot based on the rules you’ve set up. Of course, the software recognizes different time zones, allowing for more efficient scheduling.
And if you want to meet with your team, Calendly gives you an option to do it in just a few clicks. Select the team members, pull their availability from the software, and then automatically find the time slot that works for everyone.
First, Calendly saves precious minutes of your time by allowing for a more streamlined workflow. And the integration with CRM and marketing software provides better communication with your clients.
You won’t need to spend hours emailing your team just to figure out who’s available and when. But ultimately, it’s about building better relationships with everybody involved. A single link to access or confirm a meeting reduces friction and keeps team members focused on their work.
In an effort to keep up with the Cloud technologies, Microsoft has added a few apps to their existing suite. Flow, one of those apps, works as a trigger-based system that automates workflows.
The idea is to provide a superior level of automation for data gathering, alerts, notifications, etc. And again, Flow aims to cut the time you spend doing the administrative work and give you a chance to focus on productive tasks.
As indicated, this software offers workflow creation based on predetermined triggers. For example, you can create a flow that posts messages on Slack when other software in your enterprise fails. Plus, you can set up timed downloads to Dropbox and other Cloud services.
But this only scratches the surface of Flow’s capabilities. The software allows you to create multi-step workflows, including approvals. There’s also an option to set up notifications that are triggered by Power BI analysis. And the great thing is – it all happens in real-time.
The software recognizes three basic types of workflow – automated, button, and scheduled. The first one gets triggered on auto when a specific event occurs. This can be when you get an email from someone or a team member changes a file within a Cloud.
Fully customizable buttons trigger a flow when you press them. As for the scheduled flows, they can recur or happen only once.
Be that as it may, you’ll probably find Flow’s integrations the most useful. The app works well with SaaS apps, business messaging apps, advertising software, etc.
With more than four million customers, Zapier is surely among the most popular automation apps. What’s more, it connects to more than 1,500 apps and has the power to save you up to 20 hours of work a week.
These numbers sound impressive indeed, but what exactly can Zapier do for your small business? Chances are you already use a bunch of productivity and business apps – it’s Zapier’s job to bring them all together.
To be exact, this software acts as a tool to create and link different functions across business and productivity services. This might sound like a lot of work on your part, but Zapier follows a rather simple methodology.
All you need to do is set up a chain of commands that follows this logic – if X occurs, then use Y action or structure. The major highlight is that you can chain multiple actions and apps within the Y or a single Zap.
How Does Zapier Help Your Business?
By now, you can already guess the time and resource-saving benefits of automated actions and tasks. But it’s best to take a closer look at a more concrete example.
Let’s say, your business spends a significant amount on Google Ads. If so, you need to know how and when to optimize your campaigns to get the best return on your investment. And this is something Zapier’s revamped integration with Google Ads can help you with.
Custom Developed Automations
Without a doubt, custom-developed automations are the best way to go. These allow you to create company-specific scheduling protocols, dashboards, integrations, and more. However, custom-developed automations are not immune to challenges.
It’s important to know that these solutions take quite a bit of time to develop and they can be expensive. And if you factor in the maintenance, updates, and/or licensing, this might not be the right choice for a small business.
Nevertheless, the moment your budding enterprise reaches a certain growth, you might find commercial automation software insufficient. At that point, you need to take time to carefully analyze your business needs and pinpoint areas for improvement.
Then you should expect to work with your developer for more than a few months to make sure those needs are met. And the key thing is that the software itself needs to be scalable and modular. This means it should be easy to make changes on the go for further automation.
Push Towards Unprecedented Efficiency
To keep up with the demand and business needs, automation software keeps evolving. Some of the more advanced solutions contain AI tools that can flag up workflow bottlenecks or potential problems.
And all this is tuned to help you create a digital mechanism that lets you stay on top of your business without sacrificing time or money.