Automation Is Here. Are You Ready For It?
A few things we have to agree on before we could proceed with the rest of this article:
If properly set up, robots and algorithms can perform routine tasks faster, better, and with more precision than any human ever could
Almost any recurring task or process that has several predefined stages and predictable outcomes can be automated to a certain degree (all the way up to 100%)
If there’s a manual process that can be automated, then it SHOULD be automated
If you generally agree with the statements above, then we are totally on the same page here. It’s a funny thing how people fully embrace certain aspects of modern technology while seem to ignore the other.
Like with automation - everyone kinda knows it’s out there and yet there are so few businesses that are actually using robots and algorithms to automate their processes. If you’re still not sure if automation is right for you, just wait till you get to the bottom of this article - your mind will have totally changed by then.
What Is Automation?
Since “automation” itself is an umbrella term that may include many different things depending on the context, we are going to focus mostly on business automation
, which is also known as business process automation (BPA)
From a business owner’s perspective, business process automation is the use of technology to automate repeatable, day-to-day tasks. The ultimate goal behind any BPA is to get work done faster by routing information to the right person at the right time through user-defined rules and actions.
Why Should You Use Business Automation?
There’s hardly any need to advocate for business automation - however, there are certain benefits to it that you might not have realized before. Here they are:
More streamlined processes
What may have been a mess of miscommunication and unclear responsibilities suddenly becomes a nicely streamlined process. As a result, you get less time wasted, more focus on meaningful tasks that add real value to your business, and faster turnaround times.
Any BPA starts with the process of choosing which processes can be automated. It’s at this designing stage that you get to break down a workflow like you would have never done otherwise and maybe even get some quality insights.
Since automation is all about specific, clearly defined tasks, stages, and responsible people, mapping a process can really help you to identify the weak spot and bottlenecks that can be effectively remedied by BPA.
The main idea behind business process automation is that every detail of a particular process is being recorded. This may really help some companies as the recorded data can be used to demonstrate compliance during various audits.
More standardized operations
Automation is synonymous with standardization. Once you get a certain process automated, it means you can expect a consistent, predictable outcome every time. This is really important for customer service and paperwork.
More satisfied customers
Customer service is the area that can benefit the most from automation. Customers typically expect a uniformly good, consistent, reliable, and quality service that is so hard to achieve with only humans involved.
Together with machines, you can finally meet (and maybe even exceed) all of your customers’ expectations and set higher standards of your customer service.
Automating Business Processes With Bitrix24
Being an online collaboration and automation service for businesses, Bitrix24 features a whole set of tools to help you undergo true digital transformation. We even have a separate module called RPA (Robotic Process Automation) that features standard, easily customizable automation solutions but more on that later.
Not every process can be easily automated though. However, there is a set of criteria that allows us to spot such automatable (is that even a word?) processes.
Here are the key elements to identify a process that can be potentially automated:
It is consistent across the whole organization
It is repeatable
It is free from error
Applying the criteria above to your everyday business processes, you can come up with a solid list of potentially automatable processes.
Let’s see how we can do it in our product - here are five insights to help you automate business processes in Bitrix24.
1. RPA (Robotic Process Automation)
Bitrix24 features a whole module called RPA and it’s all about automation. Here, you can automate both standard and custom workflows.
E.g., you can take a process like document approval, purchase request, expense report, etc. and have them run automatically once they’ve been launched.
For these processes, there is very little effort required from you since they are mostly pre-configured. All you have to do is just choose the process, add/remove stages to match your particular case, and assign the people responsible for the completion of each stage.
Custom workflows require a bit more tuning since most of the time you will be building a new process from the ground up. However, the good news is that:
the whole thing is done via an easy-to-understand visual editor which is super-intuitive and will get you configuring automated workflows in no time
no coding skills are required on your part - it’s all mostly drag-and-drop or set-and-forget
2. Recurring tasks
There is so a lot you can do in the task automation department using Bitrix24. You can simply set a recurring task on repeat so that this task will be created automatically and repeated based on your pre-set parameters.
Another great idea is to use Task Automation Rules that are designed to help you automate your workflow and increase productivity when working on big projects. It is essentially a set of triggers and required actions in Tasks that you can set to have Bitrix24:
automatically send notifications
automatically change responsible persons
automatically change deadlines, etc.
Task automation is really great as it saves you a lot of time and makes everyone’s work a little bit easier.
3. Website widget
If you have to deal with a lot of requests coming from the clients on your website, you will love this feature. Bitrix24 Website Widget provides your clients with a quick and easy way to contact your business: whenever they’re browsing your website, they can click on the widget and choose from three options:
This will help you to direct all the client requests through a single channel, which is already quite convenient - but that’s not it. There are a few more additional options worth mentioning:
working time preferences: you can set the widget to appear only during your working hours and/or days
auto welcome message: greeting people is always nice - especially if they’re your potential clients
4. CRM automation
Bitrix24 wouldn’t be the world-class business software that it is without some advanced CRM automation. There are plenty of things you can automate in this department, including:
sending emails and text messages to your clients
creating tasks and events
changing the information in the CRM card and the deal status thus moving it down the pipeline
Most of the time, you will have to deal with the concept of Automation Rules, which is really simple. An automation rule is essentially an algorithm set to perform a certain action once it’s been triggered or a certain condition has been met (e.g. create a task for an employee once a lead has been added to the CRM).
Once a CRM entity moves to a new status, the automation rule you specified for that status gets activated. Automation rules can specify the activation time and an action: task, notification, e-mail, call or other action of your choice.
5. Workflow automation
A workflow in Bitrix24 is any formalized, standard process that has a start and a finish, pre-defined stages, and/or people responsible for them. Needless to say, certain types of workflows are just beginning to be automated - and that’s what we did!
These are the five default workflows you can automate in Bitrix24 right off the bat:
Once an automated workflow was launched (e.g., one of your employees submitted a leave approval request), it will move automatically through all the predefined stages, request actions/confirmations from all the people involved, and - once it’s finished - notify the person who launched the process.
Needless to say, such processes save you and your team a great deal of time and allow you to focus on something more human while robots are doing their job.