How much time and effort do you spend on business processes that could be easily automated, or at least streamlined?

With labor costs rising fast and talent in perennially short supply, maximizing your available resources is just smart business. The real question is: Where should you begin?

The answer depends, in part, on your pain points. Which routine processes demand the most from your team? Which would most benefit your bottom line if automated?

Only you know for sure. But chances are good you’ve yet to automate all the low-hanging fruit in your enterprise. Here’s where to focus your attention first.

How much time and effort do you spend on business processes that could be easily automated, or at … [+] least streamlined?


Automate Your Accounts Payable and Receivable

Perhaps you’ve already made the leap to paperless invoicing, but what about your vendors and contractors? It’s virtually certain that some still send invoices by mail.

You have little to no leverage over your vendors’ accounts payable processes, so the dream of truly paperless accounts payable might seem unrealistic. But invoice automation is actually a logical first stop on your journey toward a low-paper workplace.

Rossum, provider of omnichannel document management solutions, advises investing in a low-friction invoice capture solution backed by secure cloud storage. You’ll need to replicate the physical filing system you currently use for paper invoices, and you’ll want your digital invoice database to have intelligent search and analytics capabilities. You’ll also want to establish an internal process for capturing invoices now before implementing your automated solution.

Help Your Help Desk Run More Smoothly

Still 100% reliant on human help desk employees, even for rote requests like password resets and email troubleshooting?

“One weird trick” can solve your help desk’s overreliance on humans: a chatbot. Once laughingstocks of the customer support world, chatbots are now sophisticated enough to handle relatively complex queries and more than capable of managing the everyday requests that comprise the bulk of the typical organization’s support flows. Pair your chatbot with robust self-help databases — call them knowledgebases if you prefer — for internal and external requesters.

Streamline Employee and Contractor Onboarding

Human resources is another area that’s fertile for automation and has the technology to match. Organizations on the leading edge of HR automation transitioned their employee and benefits management teams to “support” status years ago, relying on increasingly sophisticated self-serve technology to manage employee and contractor onboarding, time-off requests, and benefits administration.

HR automation is cost-effective, too. For a few dollars per month, per employee, you can eliminate 90% of your HR team’s employee-interaction workload — and perhaps pare back that team’s headcount.

Upgrade Your Approach to Lead Management

You know that effectively managing leads through to conversion requires many touches — perhaps a dozen or more. You’ve probably automated bits and pieces of this ecosystem, like auto-generated email confirmations, but it’s unlikely that you’ve gone as far as you can.

That’s too bad, because your sales and business development teams’ time is really valuable. Keep them engaged where they’re needed most, like identifying high-value enterprise clients and partnership opportunities and closing deals. Leave the retail-level grunt work for an automation-rich CRM to handle.

Automate Your Advertising (Really)

Marketing automation has arrived, and not a moment too soon. Forbes Councils Member Ekalavya Hansaj describes marketing automation as “the process of putting various marketing tasks or efforts on an automated schedule or platform,” rather than deploying content manually.

That actually sells the concept short. Creative AI has advanced to the point that it’s now possible to create thousands of hyper-personalized iterations of the same basic marketing message. Using what you know about each prospect, from their income to their purchasing history to their relationships with your competitors, you can (and should) leverage marketing automation to develop compelling, laser-targeted content.

It’s Time to Invest in Process Automation

As business analytics provider SolveXia notes, process automation is itself a process. It needs to be done right, and that requires some advance planning and diligent execution.

The effort is well worth making. If you’ve held off on automating core business processes because your current arrangement works “well enough” or because you’re not sure the investment justifies the payoff, it’s time to rethink your priorities. Every day you delay is a day your competitors gain a bit more ground.