If you’ve been reading our past posts on automation, you’ll appreciate the massive amounts of time and money you can save by automating manual and repetitive business tasks (you can even use automation to make more money). Using easy-to-operate field services management software, you can reallocate your employees to more hands-on needs, such as customer service or detail-oriented logistics. This ensures your more repetitive tasks don’t weigh down your human interests, saving you money, and keeping them happy with work that doesn’t burn them out. And to help with all that, we’ve even laid out the top four tasks to start your automation journey with.
So you’re probably keen to jump right in and start automating. The question is, how — how to automate your business?
The key is to define consistent workflows that computers can implement. Once you have a detailed understanding of the workflows your staff use and have mapped them out, you can teach a computer to follow those workflows automatically. In short, you need to automate your workflows — and to do that, we’ll show you an automation workflow!
But before we can run, we first need to crawl.
What is business automation?
Business automation is like having the best secretary in the world, combined with an octopus with a genius-level intellect. Business automation takes care of everything you don’t want to do but have to do anyway to keep the trains running on time. When you put automation in place, you can very literally sit back and watch everything work without your interference after the initial setup is complete.
Business automation removes simple human errors. Have trouble getting payroll out on time? Not anymore. Have hiring issues? A thing of the past. Have inventory that is not quite accurate? It’s time to automate. Take the ‘human’ out of ‘human error’ and watch the errors drop to zero.
Business automation is quite simply, employing a computer to follow a set of predefined tasks in sequence, so you get a specific result from a specific input. For example, the input might be a quote request form and the output would be a quote for the cost of services to solve the prospect’s challenge.
What’s workflow automation?
Another name for ‘predefined tasks in a sequence’ is ‘workflow’. In the example above, the workflow would be:
- A prospective customer finds your website then contacts you asking for a quote
- You look at all the details, figure out what the solution needs to be
- You figure out what resources are required to provide the solution
- You calculate the cost of those resources
- Then you add overheads and a profit margin
- Then you create your quotation
- Then you send the quote to the prospect
Sometimes there are variables along the way, but you can find ways to streamline the process. For instance, prospects might be able to email you, fill in a form or call you for a quote. You probably want to keep their options open, but you can streamline things by having a form for quote requests that prospects either fill in online or which you fill in for them over the phone (you’d eliminate email because there’s no way to force prospects to answer all your questions that way).
Once you’re getting your data in a reliable way, it’s easy to automate the rest of the workflow by coming up with rules that reliably transform the information from the form into a detailed and accurate quote. You then set up a computer to take the data and systematically apply the rules to produce the quote document. And hey presto, you’ve automated a workflow.
In our example, your automated workflow might look something like:
- A prospective customer finds your website then fills in your quote request form (if they call for a quote, you fill the form in for them over the phone)
- The automation software matches the answers on the form to predefined services from a database of all the services you offer
- The software populates your quotation template with the details and prices of those services
- The software then emails the quote to your prospect and if they called you for a quote, you can read out the quote total over the phone (depending on your set up, you might decide to require a person to press ‘send’ on the email but the rest would be automated)
Much better than spending all weekend creating quotes right?
What is an automation workflow?
While workflow automation is the process of automating a workflow, an automation workflow is the process you would follow to automate something. In general, it goes like this:
- Identify a manual process that’s either repetitive or could be repetitive if you systematized it
- Map out the process
- Determine formulas that can be used to take the inputs at each point in the process and turn them into the required outputs
- Use a piece of software to implement those formulas
In some cases, that might require bespoke software. But for most businesses, the software already exists — you just have to customize it. For example, pretty much any business could use Siri Shortcuts on a Apple device to automate simple processes. The software already exists, it’s just a matter of customizing it.
For field services businesses, the task is even easier because FSM software is built specifically for businesses that perform services ‘in the field’. All that a field service business needs to do is tweak it a little to match their unique needs. For instance, if you prepare estimates rather than quotes, you’d use an estimate template instead of a quote template. And if your business involves responding to emergencies, you would use the software’s dispatch functionality but not its scheduling functionality.
Why automation is important — the value of automation to your business
Business is cutthroat and everyone is looking for an edge. For you, automation is not only an edge, it’s an entire sword. On one side of the blade is your business’s in-house administrative processes, including payroll, human resources, asset management, and even inventory control. On the other side is your customer-focussed processes where job-specific information is processed at the speed of light, so you can deliver a top-notch service at top speed.
Automation gives you the ability to work fast, faster than others, and keep ahead of the competition. And with these high-impact tools as your secret weapon, you’ll be the go-to source for all work in your field in your area, with new customers beating down your door to work with you. Everyone wants to work with the best. Workflow automation makes you better than the best.
Automate your business
Sick of hunting for the same answers again and again? Tired of complaints from customers about your lack of efficiency? Automation is the first step to gaining the freedom you deserve — the escape away from these issues and so many more. And all it takes is the right computer program to match your business needs.
Better yet, automation software is safe, protected, and never rests. You can rely on it, trust it, and be sure it will never betray you or leave you for a higher paying gig.
Almost any business can be automated, and that’s especially true when it comes to mobile businesses. Field services management software is a specific kind of business automation software that works for everything from HVAC repair businesses and plumbers, to security services and computer repair technicians. If you provide services to customers at their homes, offices, factories or other workplaces, then you an use FSM software to automate your business. And we’d be honored to show you how you can use Optsy FSM software to slice your admin time, save money and grow your business sustainably.
Book a no-obligation, free demo of our robust, easy-to-use FSM software now. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.