Task Automation for Administration
Many businesses look at where they’re making and losing money purely from a financial perspective — What is it in the business that contributes to the dollars on the bottom line? That’s certainly necessary, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. There’s another vital aspect of getting the most out of your business: spending your time wisely. That's where task automation and schedulers can come in handy.
It’s all about efficiency and making sure you and your team focus efforts in the right places. That means spending time on increasing revenue, launching new products, keeping costs down, and spreading the word. Unfortunately, the “catch-all” category of “admin” can be a distraction that prevents you from using your time for more important projects.
You know the admin tasks when you see them. Keeping your invoicing up to date, preparing taxes, importing credit card sales data into QuickBooks, tracking website analytics, arranging payroll, scheduling, and managing your to do list all fall under administration. It seems like there’s an endless list of tasks that need doing, and while those tasks are necessary, they’re still eating into your time. Fortunately, some of those tasks can be automated.
A big time-waster in admin is copying information from one app to another. For example, you get an email requesting a proposal and need to add it to your to do list, or you need to add your tracked time to an invoice. Perhaps you have to manually enter your credit card sales data into your accounting software. Wouldn’t it be better if you could automate those types of task so they happen in the background? Well, you can.
There are services designed specifically to automate tasks and save you time.
Related Article: Integrating Credit Card Sales Data into QuickBooks
Here are some examples of what you can do with productivity and admin automation apps:
- Add people from your Mailchimp mailing list to your client relationship management software.
- Get Gmail emails in Slack.
- Create Google Drive items from files in Dropbox.
- Copy Salesforce cases into Trello.
- Add new contacts to a Google spreadsheet.
- Add a reminder to your Google calendar when you miss a call.
These are just a few of the many small but time-consuming activities that apps can handle for you. A bunch of little, simple tasks can still add up to big losses of work time, time that could be better spent on more complex and challenging work that can’t be easily automated. If you find yourself handling a lot of minor day-to-day administrative tasks, it may be worth your time to research and set up automatic processes.
Steps to Automate Admin
Setting up a process for automating your administrative tasks is fairly straightforward. First, decide what tasks would be easier if a machine or service could do it for you. It will be easier to choose the right service if you already know what tasks you’re looking to automate. Two popular services are If This Then That and Zapier, but any service that helps you cut down on time spent on administration can benefit your business.
- Choose and sign up for a service. If This Then That and Zapier have free options, while other services may have a one-time or monthly cost.
- Once you’ve signed up, connect your chosen service to the apps you use. For example, you may connect to your email account or a task manager like Trello.
- Tell the service what to do. For example, if you receive an email with a particular subject line, you may want the service to take specific steps like entering the subject of the email into Trello.
IFTTT and Zapier both work with slightly different services (although there’s certainly crossover) and it’s worth browsing through their “recipes” (IFTTT) and “Zaps” (Zapier) to be inspired by what other users are doing. However, don't feel limited to those services. There are plenty of ways to take advantage of automation, including task schedulers and virtual assistants. Some businesses have even begun automating parts of their customer service process by using chatbots and building comprehensive FAQ sections or knowledge bases to allow customers to self-diagnose and fix issues. What will work for you depends on what specific tasks you'd like to automate.
Related Article: Chatbots for Business
Ultimately, it’s all about building a more productive workflow. The less time and energy you have to spend on admin, the more focused you can be on helping your business to grow.
Do you have a great tip on automating administrative tasks in your business? Let us know in the comments!
Paul Maplesden is a writer specializing in business, finance, and technology. He finds research and writing about money deeply interesting.