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6 Steps to Take Before Automation

6 Steps to Take Before Automation
Dan from MergeYourData.com

Thinking about automation for your business? It’s a great idea, but is it the right idea? Since we’re automation experts, we’ve put together 6 steps you need to take before committing to automation. Sometimes automation isn’t the best option, and these steps will help you determine whether automation is right for your situation.

P.S. Our ‘Should It Be Automated?’ Checklist is a great companion to this post.

The ‘Should It Be Automated’ Checklist tells you when automation is the right tool to use!
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1. Document your process

If you don’t have an outline of your process written down, it cannot be automated. Automation is a formalization of a process (the more detailed the better).

How can something be analyzed and systemized if it’s not documented? It can’t be!

2. Understand the amount of time and money this process costs

Again, the more detailed the better. But ultimately you just need a broad idea of how much time and money this process takes.

Is it 4 hours per week? Is it 100 hours per quarter? Is there a direct cost associated with the process?

Multiply the number of hours the process takes up per year by the hourly cost of an employee to do it (fully-loaded cost). This will give you an idea as to whether paying for or building an automation makes sense financially.

3. Calculate the value this process provides

What’s the associated revenue for this process? Does increasing the efficiency of this process allow you to do a money making activity more frequently, increasing revenue? Does the process reduce risk or rework (if it’s a quality or legal process)? If you stopped doing this process would you lose revenue or decrease profits?

Answering these questions helps you know the exact value the process provides and how much more it can provide.

4. Simplify or eliminate the process

Elimination is the ultimate efficiency gain. If it turns out that you documented the process and you don’t need that process, great! This means you’ve identified unnecessary work. No automation needed. Some questions to see if you should eliminate a process are:

5. Identify growth limiters in your current process

Is the current process dependent on a human’s presence to be done? Can that human be replaced by an automation? It doesn’t have to be the whole human part of the process, it can just be one part of the process!

For example, if a human is spending 10 minutes downloading information from a website for each time the process is conducted, this part can be automated! Let’s say the entire process takes 1 hour to complete. That means the process could be conducted 8 times a day. So automating those 10 minutes saves up to 80 minutes of work. That means you can now do the process 9 times a day! That adds up to 250 more times the process can be completed per year.

Growth limiters due to human components of a process make it expensive to expand your business, since you have to hire additional employees. This makes costs rise linearly (or faster) with additional productivity and revenue. If you can keep costs down with automation while still removing the growth limiters, that’s a recipe for rapid business growth!

6. Determine if the process is the correct fit for automation

Does the process have small variations all the time? That means it might be a bad fit for automation. There is a threshold to this though. A physical example of this is: if you have a machine that needs to pick up shapes, but those shapes can be 1 cm wide or 1000 meters wide and 2 pounds or 500 tons, automation isn’t a good fit. The same principle stands for software. A good rule of thumb is: will the automation be able to cover 90% of use cases. If yes, continue to the next criteria.

      • Will the automation pay for itself in money or time in 6 months?
      • Will the automation allow growth that wasn’t possible otherwise?

Another example; If you’re a dog walker who hasn’t documented your pet visit procedures, you can’t scale! By documenting and automating the employee onboarding, training, and visit process, you no longer are the only person able to be a dog walker! This will allow you to expand your business by easily hiring employees and scheduling more walks than one person can handle.

Once you go through each of these steps, you’ll know your business even better. From here you can determine if automation makes sense. Both from a time perspective and a money perspective.

If you don’t know which processes to look at first, check out our blog post on Top 10 Things Small Businesses Need To Automate. Or feel free to give us a call for a free 30 minute consultation. We’ll answer all your automation and small business questions. 407-906-6902.


Tl;dr

  1. Document your process
  2. Understand the amount of time and money this process costs
  3. Calculate the value this process provides
  4. Simplify or eliminate the process
  5. Identify growth limiters in your current process
  6. Determine if the process is the correct fit for automation

MergeYourData.com Automates Businesses

We hope you were able to take away some value from our blog. If you don’t know how or where to start with automation, MergeYourData.com offers Business Automation Services if you want experts to get your business where it needs to be.





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