CEOs and Entrepreneurs usually have to deal with one big problem – too much to do, too little time. It’s a good problem to have, and where there’s a problem, a tenacious professional can find opportunity. The opportunity here is productivity.
Efficiency is the driver for our modern business scenario. Automation is a tool that can boost efficiency and productivity to allow the busy CEOs a better shot at the Herculean task of managing their time.
Mundane and repetitive tasks exist for everyone, in personal as well as their professional lives. Achieving ways to automate and systemize things can enable you to save big on time, not just for yourself, but for the business as well. Thankfully for us, the modern world is full of automation options. So here are a few automation options that you, the CEO can employ to make the best of your time.
1. Lessen Administrative Overhead
Nothing sucks the joy out of a workplace like reams of red tape. One of the things on top of your list should be shredding that red tape with a Samurai sword. See possibilities for automation in any process that is repetitive – rather than handing those over to Jack, who does mundane tasks continuously and thinks of offing himself.
Setting up a system, delegating tasks and automating processes can save you a lot of time, quicken deployment and increase effectiveness. For example, HR-Onboarding and offboarding becomes very simple and secure once it is automated. In an automated process, new employees can hit the ground running, without waiting for the haze of administrative processes to clear.
The same concept can be applied to business, where new customers can be directly added to a CRM without manual intervention. Sync office calendars and files so people don’t miss their meetings and can collaborate with ease. As a CEO, all you have to see is reports and not be caught up in processes that shouldn’t be demanding your attention in the first place. If you can shave 10 seconds off a 1 minute job, that’s a saving of 16%.
2. Automate the Simple Things
We usually get so engrossed in the big picture that the little details skip our attention. An average employee can spend as much as a quarter of a day dealing with email. The higher one goes up the chain, the more time email consumes. As a CEO, you probably spend the better part of your day dealing with email.
A lot of time can be saved here by introducing some automation. Use filters in your email program to properly tag and mark email. Similarly, canned responses/autoresponders can save you a world of worry and time. Using a software to reach out to your team rather than emailing them individually (or typing in their email addresses) is another option.
However, it’s not just office email that’s taking your time. You may also be spending a lot of time on social networks, cloud storage (iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive etc.), apps and some personal use as well. Platforms like IFTTT and Zapier can come in very handy in situations like these.
IFTTT uses recipes to perform a task, given some conditions. For example, the app could automatically lower your smartphone ring volume once you arrive at work, save your Facebook likes for reading later, generating reports for some platforms etc. There’s an endless list of possibilities here that you could exploit by whipping up the right recipe.
3. Get Along with Database Queries
In the modern world, it really sucks if you have to dive into databases regularly to perform simple tasks. Need to send an email to prospective customers who responded to your campaigns? Don’t ask the technical team to add and fish-out these prospectives from the database, talk to them about automating the process!
Database queries are simple and excellent tools that can save you a boatload of time. Rather than going through a process where a customer reaches out to an employee to display interest, make it so that the customer can enter information through a web form. Your automated systems can trigger an email to this customer – one that matches their position in the sales funnel.
Simple as well as complex tasks can be handled by database queries. All you need to do is setup a system that fires the process.
4. Big Data Analytics
Big Data is the buzzword these days. Businesses generate reams of structured and unstructured data. Several businesses find excellent use for all that information, while many are left clueless because they can’t fathom a way to process all that information. Here’s a response with our buzzword of the day: automate it.
Algorithms can very efficiently and effectively extract information from data. You get better insights into customer behavior and a centralized viewpoint for workflows. Rather than having meatbags pore through the data, it’s better to hand it over to the machines (and perhaps score some brownie points with our future overlords).
Machines do all the grunt work in big data and take actions depending on instructions. The human element here is about gaining insights from the processed data.
5. Systemize Processes
Systemize what you can and remember not to cover it in red tape – it’s a very fine distinction. Development and Operations departments for example, need to have a very clear system. Bank on the use of templates and collaborative tools to cut down overhead as much as possible and increase productive times. The team does not need to spend its time re-inventing the wheel, neither should they be having cumbersome discussions about the road to follow.
Make sure the process is clear, streamlined, and has manual as well as automated checks . Make libraries for scripts and modules so different teams and departments don’t end up spending time on developing the same script. Encouraging collaboration can make sure that scripts answer to the requirements of different teams.
6. Touch the Clouds
Use cloud computing where possible to make sure processes are easily accessible to those involved. The cloud can offer ease of collaboration, access from around the world and scalable support for your business processes. Keep a close eye on the core competencies and strengths of your business and rely on cloud computing for feasible processes.
The cloud can be put to use for several services, like IT systems provisioning where a service like IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) can provide on-demand (virtual) machines, processing power and storage.
PaaS (Platform as a Service) can be very helpful for a development environment and application developers – the popularity of services like Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure speak volumes of this service. Similarly, SaaS (Software as a Service) can be quite handy and useful with the wide variety of software and systems available in the cloud.
7. Run Checks on Systems
So you’ve set up automation, systems and processes. Ideally, these should work flawlessly – and most of the times, they won’t give you any trouble. Having a watchdog in the form of regular system checks will ensure that an automated system is dependable.
Automated systems with service-level alerts can ensure that processes work smoothly, and complete their job on time. The system will throw alerts when a process isn’t working properly or is taking longer than expected to complete its job.
Setting up timely alerts, reminders and even a regular manual interaction with the system will go a long way in ensuring that critical time-dependent processes stay on track.
8. Go for Marketing Automation
Marketing Automation is a big one. Not only does this save your business money in the form of time saved, it is a tool that actively generates more business – and more money. Statistics are overwhelmingly in the favor of marketing automation – and we daresay, so is common sense.
Reports suggest that 79% of top-performing companies use marketing automation, so it is quite surprising to see that only 42% of companies actually use marketing automation. The gulf between these two numbers should speak for itself – it’s fair to say the winning businesses are on the side of marketing automation.
A majority of businesses who do use marketing automation say that they have seen a significant increase in sales revenue, lead nurturing and customer engagement.
A CEO is probably best placed to push automation and efficiency to the organization and there is every reason you should accomplish that in your professional and personal spheres of life. There are clear benefits and since a CEO should be looking at ROI, you’ve pretty much got yourself a keeper in automation.
All said and done, sales are what drive your business, and marketing drives sales. There is no reason why you should be missing out on the marketing automation party. To get your business started on marketing automation, reach out to us using our contact form, or call us at (919) 636-9835.