Not so long ago my five year old son came home from school with yet another printed letter with a cut off permission slip for me to sign and return. It got me thinking how behind the times many schools are.
It seems such a waste of time for the secretaries in the schools to be printing hundreds of letters every week, collecting back the slips, manually checking the slips, logging this information somewhere and then chasing parents who haven’t returned them.
In this day and age there is surely a better way?
There must be a piece of software and an app that will send a digital letter and email to all the parents of a year group or key stage?
On this software the parents could simply check a box to give permission for a school event, saving reams of paper from being printed and wasted. This would save the hassle of sending out paper slips and collecting them all back in from each child… most primary schools have hundreds of children.
There must be software that would automate the whole letter sending process to save hours and hours of time and stress in school offices. All this information collated digitally, allowing a simple simple click of a mouse to see a list of parents who have responded, and another click to instantly send a reminder by email or text to those who have not.
I started school in 1989 and printed letters were sent home with paper permission slips to return. It’s now 31 years later and I can’t believe returning paper permission slips to school is still how it’s done! What a waste of resources and time!
Any repeatable task can be automated nowadays. It can be done faster and more accurately by a computer. I’m certain there must already be an automated system the schools can use that will save them so much unnecessary paperwork and time, but clearly they aren’t implementing it yet for some strange reason.
Automation can benefit your business… massively!
If you are running a small business, don’t let the above time-wasting strategy be true for you. There is no need to so obviously waste your precious time, resources and energy in this day and age.
There are SO many ways you can automate your day to day tasks in your business to improve productivity and efficiency. You don’t need to needlessly waste time when there is technology available that can speed up processes through automation.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a blogger, online retailer, IT expert, manufacturer or even a plumber - no matter what your small business is, there will be a way for you to automate many of your business processes and daily tasks to save time and money.
If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner you might find it hard to ‘let go’ of certain tasks.
You want to control every aspect of your business and might only trust yourself!
You might find it tricky to delegate them to others, let alone automate them, but it’s essential to learn when to let go so your business can grow.
Don’t be scared of automation. Use it to enhance your business and let you focus on the more important or creative tasks that technology can’t assist.
What is automation?
“Automation, or Labour-saving technology is the technology by which a process or procedure is performed with minimal human assistance. Automation or automatic control is the use of various control systems for operating equipment such as machinery, processes in factories, boilers and heat treating ovens, switching on telephone networks, steering and stabilization of ships, aircraft and other applications and vehicles with minimal or reduced human intervention.
Automation covers applications ranging from a household thermostat controlling a boiler, to a large industrial control system with tens of thousands of input measurements and output control signals.
Automation has been achieved by various means including mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, electronic devices and computers, usually in combination. Complicated systems, such as modern factories, airplanes and ships typically use all these combined techniques. The benefit of automation includes labour savings, savings in electricity costs, savings in material costs, and improvements to quality, accuracy, and precision.” Wikipedia
Automation is basically having a process automated, so humans don’t need to undertake the task. Whilst it can be used on huge vessels such as ships and in manufacturing, it can also be used in electronic means to benefit even the smallest of businesses or individuals with monotonous and repetitive day-to-day business tasks.
Types of business automation
There are various types of automation systems that are available for all different categories of business.
Some of these tools will be applicable to all types of business such as email marketing tools, marketing automation tools and bookkeeping tools. Pretty much all businesses nowadays need to send emails, market on social media and keep records of accounts, so many electronic automation systems will be useful to all businesses.
Other businesses will require much larger, more complex automation machinery to make manufacturing or production lines faster, more efficient and accurate. They can even be used to allow machines to do jobs that would otherwise be dangerous for humans. Using automation in manufacturing can reduce human error, produce higher quality products and keep us safe.
As you can begin to see, automation can be useful for businesses of all sizes, from an individual or sole trader, right through to businesses with several employees or even huge corporations.
Benefits of automation for your business
If you’re unsure how automation can benefit your small business, here are some benefits of automation for businesses of all sizes to get you thinking.
You might even be using automation tools and systems already without realising!
- Reduce human error. Humans are not perfect and that’s OK, but in business we can make errors that might have big consequences such as an accounting error or a missed quality control check. There is no end of accounting software available that can automate your invoicing and bookkeeping tasks to eliminate mistakes. In manufacturing RNA automation create bespoke vision inspection systems that can accurately quality control 100% of products at speed.
- Reduce paperwork. Making tasks digital and automated will reduce the amount of laborious paperwork that businesses were used to. Painstakingly bookkeeping by hand is a thing of the past. Digital documents reduce the need for printing, sending and waiting for signed documents to be returned. Simply email documents to clients and request a digital signature or use a platform like eversign to securely send documents and collect legally binding signatures.
- Save money. Mistakes made because of human error can be costly to rectify. Using automatic manufacturing machinery, robotics and AI will cut out many of these mistakes giving a perfect product every time. By reducing the time you spend on repetitive, mundane tasks and lending these to automation instead, you have more time to grow the business, seek clients and thus make more money. It’s about spending your time more wisely, doing the tasks humans are best at and leaving the rest to automation. The tasks that can be automated will be completed quicker by technology, saving time on staffing costs or your own labour time. Tools or machinery for automation may have an upfront cost, but it’s an investment that will pay for itself over time.
- Save time. Small business owners seem to never have enough time. There are so many tasks to complete daily from marketing, bookkeeping, updating social media accounts, emails, sourcing clients, networking and so on. Automation can save time. Something as simple as using social media schedulers can automate your social media feeds, saving hours every single week. For Pinterest I love Tailwind and for Twitter I love Social Oomph - just set and forget. Email automation tools can send your latest blog posts to your email subscribers on autopilot. In manufacturing, robotics can complete work faster than humans and they never get tired. They can work whilst we sleep!
As you can begin to see, automation is everywhere and you might already be using it. It’s basically the process of having a machine or digital software complete tasks for you automatically, once they are set up to do so.
Automation speeds up tasks that would be laborious for humans and does them much quicker and effectively. It helps to reduce human error, save time and save money.
If your business is not making use of AI and automation, then take a look into accounting software, marketing automation tools and QC machinery that can make your business life easier today.
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