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Why You NEED Business Automation: A Look at Business Automation & Its Opportunities

The Power of Automation and Integration – How can I take advantage of automation in my business?

Most of us know that automation is essential for our business to thrive in the years to come. However, most of us have done little automation and know very little about HOW to automate.

There are a few key technologies that are vital to automation. In an effort to simplify, we are only going to focus on a CRM and BPM. A CRM stands for client relationship management system and a BPM stands for a business process management system.

What is a CRM? CRM’s come in all shapes and sizes. But for simplicity sake, a CRM should be a foundational system used for storing all types of information as it relates to your business. Everything from contacts to invoices to emails and so on.

What is a BPM? In simple terms, a BPM is the ability to automate and optimize a lot of the mundane tasks and processes associated with your business. It all starts with having your processes either written out or easily understood.

Examples of BPM’s:

  • marketing automation
  • work flows
  • call queues
  • calendar scheduling tools
  • invoicing tools
  • many more

How do I get started?

  1. Setup a CRM if you don’t already have one. I recommend one that integrates easily with other technologies and is easy to use. Many have free trials or previews so that you can see if the user experience is easy to use.  If you need suggestions, I am happy to be a resource.
  2. Either integrate a BPM into your CRM or choose a CRM with a BPM built in.
  3. Choose a simple process in your company that you would like to automate.
  4. Write out every step in that process.
  5. Leverage a BPM to automate as many of those steps as possible.
  6. Become exponentially more productive, have a more organized team, and create exceptional experiences for your clients.

Easy, right? Well, it can seem more complicated than that but the reality is, while it does take some time to setup, the amount of time, efficiency, and happy clients over the long term is invaluable.  When you think about your time as an investment in your future free time, it makes perfect sense!

Let’s look at an example without automation:

Sally is an accountant and has a small business called ABC accounting. Dave is her assistant. When a new client calls in to get the tax return process started the current process is as follows:

Business Automation Systems, Denver CO

Whew!  Tired yet?

Now let’s look at the process after CRM and BPM solutions have been put into place:

Sally is an accountant and has a small business called ABC accounting. Dave is her assistant. When a new client calls in to get the tax return process started the new process looks like:

Business Automation Systems Denver, CO

The Impact?

In example one there were a minimum of 21 steps that required a human to complete. In example two, where a fully optimized BPM and CRM were put into place, there are only 5 steps where a human is involved. This illustrates the power of automation. If you think about a tax practice cranking out over 750 returns think about the impact of improving efficiency on just ONE process for each client by over 400%. Further, by using a system like a BPM you can make sure that steps along the way aren’t missed.

All of this leads to what? It leads to a better client experience, a process driven team, and a remarkable increase in efficiency.

Information on Big Data: Why People Haven’t Adopted Data In Their Business

Information on Big Data:  Why people don’t want to look at data.

Information on Big DataCan I be frank here?  We’ve been told for years now that data is the future, yet SO MANY businesses refuse to embrace it like they should.  I see it left and right in this line of work and I’m realizing that there are a lot of reasons why… and they have nothing to do with numbers.

Data is scary.

Data is confusing, overwhelming, and scary sometimes.  If you’re not a numbers person, data feels literally like someone is speaking Russian to you.  We know it’s confusing.  Let’s just start there with that understanding.  IT. IS. CONFUSING. But that’s why we’re here.  We speak the language of data and we also speak English too.  If you know you need data in your business strategy, a team like ours is great because we’ll help translate the data into digestible chunks that you can actually understand.

Don’t wanna face the music…

Frankly, I think this is one of the biggest reasons why people ignore data analytics for their business:  they simply don’t want to face the music.  They’re scared the data may show that they’ve mismanaged their business or that they could’ve been doing something better. Why are we so scared to name our flaws?  We’ll tell you, we’ve made mistakes along the way, and by knowing our weak spots we’ve been able to improve instead of recycle mistake after mistake.

Cost

Data analytics and business intelligence are definitely investments in your business.  The fact is, up until the last year or two, data was too expensive for most small and mid size companies. While it’s attainable, it’s not going to be dirt cheap, and if someone is offering dirt cheap, I guarantee, you’ll get what you paid for and be paying more in the long run.

Realize this, though, data analytics reports can help you streamline your operation so that you know who to target, where to target, how to eliminate wasteful services, hire smarter, and more.  All of these things can add up to thousands upon thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars in many situations.  When you consider the potential savings that BI and data services can provide, your original investment usually pays for itself multiple times over.  Don’t let original proposals cloud the anticipated rewards you’ll get over time, not to mention the basic foundations of data collection or organization that you’ll get as a result too.

Pride…AKA Ego

We come across a lot of egos in business, but please, please, please, don’t let your ego get in the way of making smart decisions.  You may think you know your business better than anyone or anything, but we’ve always been able to shed new light with the help of data.  Even those who think they know all find out new insights from doing data analysis within their business.  Business is done very differently today than it was even fifteen years ago.  Don’t let old-school methods of business cloud your judgment to think you don’t need data in your business model.

Too New

While data feels new, it’s really not that new.  Businesses have been utilizing data analytics, BI, data warehousing, and more for years already.  But, within many industries and brackets of businesses, it “feels” very new.  Just like website felt new too twenty-five years ago and now are an essential tool, data “feels” very new but is really an essential tool for your business. Don’t make the mistake of implementing data too late.

I know I probably hit a sore spot for you because most people fall into one, or all, or these reasons.  My heart is truly that business owners understand what they need in order to be successful in business and data is the key to that.  I’d encourage you to recognize your own reasons why you have been hesitant to use data to grow your business.  Recognizing it will help you understand what mindset shifts need to happen in order to be successful working with a data analytics company or BI solutions company.

Shaking Up Business With Data | Denver CO Business Intelligence Company Weighs In

Denver CO Business Intelligence CompanyBusiness today doesn’t look like it did for our grandparents, or even our parents.  In fact, technology is changing so much and at a staggering speed that we can’t keep up easily!  In fact, 90% of the world’s data historically has been created in the last two years!  That’s a lot of data being created and therefore a lot of data that a business needs to put to use.

Just because business looks different, and just because data feels daunting at times, this doesn’t mean that businesses should ignore it.  In fact, a few basic measures can get a business tracking, analyzing, and measuring data in a way that makes their business work more efficiently and effectively.

Big Data For Big Results:  Denver CO Business Intelligence Company Weighs In

  • Baseline Metrics – Know where you started from to measure growth
  • Key Performance Indicators – Put a measurable standard to the things you find most valuable.
  • Demographic Understanding – Know your customers.  We mean really KNOW.   And, not just with an emotional hunch, but know something and back it up with the numbers.
  • Business Opportunities – See clearly and easily where your business is falling short, so that you can know where to focus your efforts.
  • Measure What-If Scenarios – Understand the implications of a decision before you make it.
  • Understand Market & Industry Trends – The data will tell you what is going on and what you can expect.
  • Predictive Analytics – Make educated predictions of what will happen in the future, based on hard facts of what is happening now!
  • Competitive Intel – Get a leg up on your competition.
  • Real-Time Knowledge – Base your business and marketing decisions on things happening right now in your business, not data that is months or years old.

& More…

The reality is that data analytics are constantly opening new doors and opportunities of how we can use data to propel our businesses forward.  The best part is that the technology and development needed to collect and analyze data is now more affordable than ever before for mid and small size businesses.  It is not out of the question for any size business to be using data analytics and business intelligence to grow their business.


Never Ever Ordinary is a business intelligence and data analytics company based in Denver, Colorado, but serving clients all over the country and even some internationally.  If you want to learn more about how to use data to grow your business, we’d love to talk to you.

 

Managing Communication: The Art of Organizing Outlook

business intelligence company in Denver ColoradoPart 1: Folders

Communication – the ups & downs
Communication is a guiding principle in my interactions with our clients and their financial goals; however, communication becomes ineffective if I do not approach my workflow with a detail-oriented strategy. With the ever-present reality of technology and quick responses, clients and business contacts frequently pose questions, ideas, or thoughts through email. While this enables immediate dialogue, it also creates an email inbox full of messages.

Microsoft Outlook is an incredible tool for email if used properly; the personal information management system is known world-wide for its use in companies, non-profits, and for personal use to communicate ideas, achieve tasks, and maintain the interconnected reality of the present.

Still, nothing hinders efficiency than an unanswered inbox full of emails. One of the ways Outlook can help you –as it’s helped me – is to organize the internal folders.

What’s worked for me
In restructuring in my email folders within Outlook, I first analyzed the folders I had and my process for following up with emails I received daily. For me, the important emphasis was segmenting out and prioritizing what was important versus what could wait.

I borrowed a lot of organizational ideas from a book by a well-known productivity consultant, David Allen, titled Getting Things Done. My biggest take away from it was if I could achieve a task in two minutes or less, then I needed to go ahead and take care of it. If I was unable to in that very moment and yet still needed to take action, I could pull the email into its own folder, delete it, or archive it. The end goal is to only touch an email once to take action, and maybe a second time if you have to research something or need to think about your response. The subfolders I came up with were:

Action Items – Notes to Edit – Projects – Phone Calls -Waiting for/on- Travel – Webex
Within all folders, I proceeded to make subfolders that said “completed”. After, I generated archived folders that are a lot more detailed. It is necessary to have only a few folders within your inbox to keep it simplified. For example, I know “action items” is the one folder that I have to go to each and every day to make sure it is taken care. Your inbox should constantly be emptied throughout the day and most days I do not leave until it is emptied. If I am successful at this it is one thing that makes me feel like I accomplished or achieved something that day.

Within your inbox I recommend 4 to 7 folders. I have a couple of folders that serve a more temporary need (travel or webex, for example) but the folders I tend to be most concerned about are the action items, notes to edit, and phone calls.

What we are trying to achieve here is a way to organize emails to follow up with clients, with staff, and with other key individuals. How you manage your emails and tasks is a customized and personalized process. You might have certain nuances in your industry or in the way you keep up with client communication, but in the end, it is important that email is used as a tool for enhancing communication not barring it. Some of my colleagues prefer to organize their email folders by name of fellow staff or management – this is certainly another way that folders can be utilized to streamline the messages you receive daily.

Challenges
As you can imagine with any new organizational system there are challenges. To no surprise, time is one of the biggest issues on my end. Even with a goal to get through my emails daily, sometimes it just does not happen. Another issue is not forgetting about certain folders and losing some emails “in space”.

Yet, as with anything, we overcome challenges with patience and perseverance. I have stuck to my new internal email organizational system in Outlook and I feel more prepared, responsive, and ready to help the clients I serve. That is what organization can help you do, and I certainly hope these small approaches help you to achieve bigger goals.

Part II Coming Soon: Utilizing Outlook’s Task List

Jesse R. Morris, AIF®, CFS®, PPC

 

Jesse Morris is the founder of Never Ever Ordinary, a data and business intelligence company in Denver Colorado.