Automate Simple Repetitive Tasks First

Where do you start, when all your staff are over-qualified?

Every day, in every business, staff are expected to spend a large amount of their time on tasks they are completely over-qualified for.

When it comes to automation in your business, it can be hard to work out where to start.

What seems like the most basic of business processes can become overwhelming when you map them out in detail, in order to automate and systemise some of the workflow.

Then you have to decide what tools to use.

Many people jump in and start thinking about which CRM to use; Office365 or G-Suite; what accounting platform etc.

The reality is, you can gain a massive amount of time and efficiency when you simply start with the small and seemingly mundane, but crucial, tasks which are spread all over your business.

I call this “The cancer of two-minute tasks”, and every business we work with comes to us riddled with them.

Most of these 2-minute tasks will be things you don’t even think about, because everyone is just so used to doing them manually.

Here’s an example from our own business:

We record case studies of Macanta projects and systems. Every case study is made up of the same components, and therefore requires the same folders and sub-folders.

Everything runs more smoothly when every case study has the same folder and file structure, in the same place on our server, with a strict naming convention.

Working this way means nobody needs to ask “Where did you save this file?” or “Have you created this yet?”. Everyone in the business knows where the case study components are saved.

If you’ve ever employed other human beings though, you know how hard it can be to get everyone on your team to use the same folder structure and naming convention.

So, why not take that decision or responsibility away from them?

For our case study example, all I do, when I start a case study, is create the main folder. Once I’ve created this folder, all the necessary sub-folders are created automagically, with the folder names exactly as required

This might seem like a tiny example of automation, and you’re right, it is.

But I’m sure you can quickly identify 20 or 30 such examples in your business, and once automated, they just happen, without you or anyone else thinking or, more importantly, doing them ever again.

Use tools and services, not people.

Another example from our business is how we use Rev.com, the online transcription service.

Captions, and sometimes transcriptions, are required for the videos we post online.

Rev.com is a great service for this, as you pay a ‘per-minute’ fee and get your captions and transcriptions back in minutes, or hours at most- depending on the length of your video of course.

The only ‘drawback’ is you have to login online and place the order, then, when you receive an email that your files are ready, you go and download them.

Well, we don’t.

Rev.com has everything in place to automate this process.

  1. All we do is save the video file in a set folder, and that automatically places the order;
  2. Once the order has been processed, the captions and transcriptions are saved directly to a folder on our server;
  3. Finally, a notification is sent to a dedicated channel in our internal chat tool.

This way, the moment the files are ready, the right people are notified, and they know exactly where to find the files.

And this all triggered by simply saving the video file, which I have to do anyway.

Your team is over-qualified

The examples mentioned above may seem trivial, and that is the insidious nature of ‘two-minute tasks’.

On its own, each time you do something like place an order for a transcription, it might seem as if it has little impact on your business or operational efficiency, let alone warrants the time to automate the process.

However, once you realise there are likely 100s of these tasks across your business, being performed by several people in your business, every week, you’ll become aware of the amount of time and money wasted on crucial, but mind-numbing tasks.

When you get to work and automate these tasks, you free your team up to deliver real value to your customers, your business and each other.

What would your business be like, if every team member only focused on work which delivered their highest value, instead of spending their time performing repetitive mundane actions?

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Author: Pieter De Villiers

Pieter K de Villiers is slightly obsessed with systems. The systems and process automation he builds for small businesses are transformative, to say the least. Pieter is a Co-Founder of Blue Peg Group and the Amazon best-selling author of “Barefoot Business: 3 key systems to attract more leads, win more sales and delight more customers without your business killing you”.

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