Automation is becoming more and more popular in businesses of all sizes. Once, automation was only really possible for large companies, as the technology necessary to automate work was hugely expensive.

Now, automation is achievable and affordable for even small businesses. No matter what industry you operate in, some level of automation will help streamline your business operations and save you time and money.

In this article, we’ll answer some common questions regarding automation, including:

  • What is automation?
  • What are the benefits of automation in business?
  • What automation tools should I use in my business?
  • How can I automate my financial admin?

What is automation? 

Automation is the process of using technology to do the work a human being would normally do to complete a particular process. This definition is fairly broad. Technically, even ancient technologies like ploughs or windmills are forms of automation. 

In the modern working world, automation more often refers to things like software that completes repetitive admin or industrial manufacturing machinery. Even something as simple as a calendar app is a form of automation, because it’s a piece of technology that does the job of scheduling for you. 

Automation is a huge industry, and has recently seen a boom due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Remote working has meant that businesses invest more in automation technology to complete tasks that are difficult to do outside an office environment.

Popular uses of automation include:

  • Digital platforms can make submitting tax returns easier, which is often a complicated and time-consuming process.
  • Chatbots that can deal with simple customer service questions, freeing up human agents for more complicated tasks.
  • Heavy machinery that makes the mass production of large products like cars possible. 
  • Analytics tools (like Google Analytics) automate the collection and analysis of data to help businesses improve their websites. 

What are the benefits of automation in business?

Increase efficiency

Automation is most commonly employed to improve efficiency. A machine or digital solution doesn’t get distracted or take breaks, so it’s a much more efficient worker than a human being.

If they’re looking to improve efficiency, businesses should automate simple, repetitive tasks. Since there are limitations to what technology can do in certain situations, automation is best applied where it’ll do the most good. 

Minimise errors

As well as being more productive, digital solutions are also more accurate than a human worker might be. This is especially true for number-based tasks like accounting, or organisational tasks like scheduling a workload.

For example, when you’re filling in your self-assessment tax return, you need to log all of your business expenses into official categories. Financial automation tools like Countingup can automatically categorise your businesses expenses, so you only need to copy the information into the tax return.

Reduce costs

Businesses spend a considerable amount of time (and therefore money) on fixing simple, avoidable errors. But, by doing more work and making fewer mistakes, automation can save a business a lot of money.

For example, the Countingup app automatically provides a real-time report of your incoming and outgoing expenses. Doing this manually might lead to errors, which in turn might lead to unwise spending and a loss of profits, but automating your bookkeeping guarantees accuracy and helps cut costs. 

Accurate documentation

A common issue in troubleshooting and management is working out where a process has gone wrong. 

Any automated solution will create a digital record of what it’s been doing, ensuring that there’s always a trail to follow when identifying errors. 

Improve decision-making

Automation allows you to compile and analyse a large amount of data in a fraction of the time it would take you to do so manually. 

As a result, you’ll have more information available when making decisions. By providing you with this information, automation can ensure the choices you make are fact-based and impactful.

What automation tools should I use in my business?

The way you use automation will differ considerably depending on where you work and what you do. For instance, you might need to automate your calendar if you work from home. On the other hand, if you run a store you might be more concerned with automating your inventory management. 

Despite the various different priorities business owners might have, here are a few examples of automation that can improve almost any small business:

  • Email marketing is an effective (and easily automated) way to promote your company. By sending out newsletters or offers to customers, you can significantly increase sales. Automation helps create and optimise the emails, and takes care of sending everything out to the right people.
  • Running multiple social media accounts is much easier with automation. There are software tools that allow you to manage all of your social media profiles in one place. These tools also collect data on how effective your content is, and who engages with your posts.
  • Scheduling is much easier if done digitally. It might not immediately seem like a type of automation, but even simple calendar apps improve productivity by ensuring you’re at all your meetings on-time. More advanced automation tools can even help organise your workload.
  • You can improve your customer service by using automation. Simple chatbot programs can assist customers while you focus on the task of running your business. Digital solutions can also manage your customer relationships by recording and categorising customer information.
  • With the right technology, financial management is also very easy to automate. Automation tools like Countingup can streamline tons of accounting tasks including bookkeeping, tax planning, and cash flow management. Learn more below.

How can I automate my financial admin?

Financial Management is one of the most important tasks in running a business. While it’s often a complicated and time-consuming job, you can automate many accounting tasks to make it easier.

The key tasks you should seek to automate are things like expense categorisation, receipt capture, and invoicing. All these can be automated by using the Countingup app.

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates complicated bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

With Countingup, you can spend less time managing your budget and more time expanding your business.

Start your three-month free trial today