Automation Software Universal Best Practices Small businesses owners are often barraged by automation software systems that promise to streamline an important business process. These systems can hold significant appeal, promising to reduce both costs and manpower requirements while still getting necessary work done.However, these systems usually claim to be “set it and forget it” type of deals. This can bemisleading and can result in unrealistic expectations, as well as flawed implementationstrategies.Fortunately, it is possible to derive a great deal of value from automation systems as long asyou understand both their advantages and their limitations.It’s important to understand which processes can be reliably automated within your company.These can include payroll, billing, cost accounting, IT infrastructure monitoring, internet relatedmarketing, prospect and customer engagement management, competitive intelligencemonitoring and many others. The trick is to determine which processes, if automated, willprovide the most value for your company in particular.One method to determine this value involves carefully tracking employee time to determine ifemployees are spending large amounts of time on processes that can be easily automated. Incases such as these, implementing an automated system often provides a high return on
investment by decreasing time spent on tedious activities while freeing employees to work onother tasks.Selecting and implementing specific software to meet automation requirements is too broad atopic to cover completely here (that’s where the consultants make their money).That being said, once you have determined which processes within your business that can besuccessfully automated, there are a few automation software universal best practices toremember:Integration FunctionalityMake sure that integration functionality is present within the system you choose. Modernbusiness programs should communicate with each other so that you can collect, retrieve andmanipulate data however you see fit.If a program uses a lot of proprietary protocols, then look elsewhere for software that will playnice with others.LongevityAnother key factor to consider when choosing automation programs is longevity. Nicheprograms that are new and relatively unproven in a business setting are risky because they maynot last long. Therefore, even if the program works as advertised, you could get stuck when anupdate is needed and the business has gone under.When it comes to automating key business processes, it is wise to select from high-qualityprograms that have withstood the test of time. Small businesses often looktoQuickbooks, ADP and even Microsoft Dynamics GP to provide the foundation for automationinfrastructure. Though these do not fit everyone’s needs perfectly, each deserves a careful look.Monitor and UpdateFinally, keep in mind that even the most advanced automation systems cannot be left to runwithout regular monitoring and updates. In general, programs should be checked daily to ensureproper functioning so that any issues can be corrected quickly.If the software program you choose offers a maintenance contract, you’d be wise to invest in it.Automation systems should be reevaluated or updated at least twice a year. Sometimes, amaintenance contract will include automatic software updates, which is a very valuable benefit.Software changes quickly, necessitating regular maintenance to guarantee a smooth integrationwith your daily processes. If you discover software is lagging or causing problems even after it’supdated, then you should definitely consider looking for a replacement. The inconvenience ofimplementing a new automation program is often mitigated by the increased functionality itaffords.
Automation programs can significantly impact your company’s bottom line, but it is important notto get overoptimistic. Your car doesn’t drive you to work and your stove doesn’t cook food on itsown. Only people can run a business. When software is left to run amok, bad things happen.Focus on creating a solid implementation and maintenance strategy and you can streamlineyour processes while increasing your profits.For more information visit: http://smallbiztrends.com/2013/01/automation-software-best-practices.html