Do you want to focus on delivering more value for your clients, but with less expense? Have you been considering implementing automation in your firm, but you’re not quite sure where to start? Maybe you’ve dreamed about perfectly designed workflows that operate in the background while you work on your business rather than in it.
While automation can help to standardize your processes and free up employees’ valuable time, it does require a shift in your firm’s strategy and ultimate vision of the future. We’ll call this an automation mindset. Developing and nurturing this mindset throughout your organization will help ensure a successful foundation for employee buy-in and will provide your firm with a competitive edge.
But first…what is automation?
Automation is a super powerful way to increase productivity, simplify your workflows, and help ensure quality control so you are better able to focus on high-level tasks. It frees up both your time and mental energy so you can give attention to other important areas of your business like improving your service or customer experience.
With the development of no-code and low-code platforms like Zapier and Power Automate, you can create custom automations without needing developer expertise or resources. These platforms have pre-built templates and drag-and-drop features that allow you to turn your ideas into automated workflows and robust integrations between the apps you use. The process is far less complicated than you might think.
As an example, on Tuesday at Scaling New Heights in Orlando (June 19-22), I'll be teaching "Introduction to Power Automate." During this 1 CPE hour session, I'll cover the basics of Power Automate and how to leverage its templates. Before the session is over, session attendees will have built their first flow!
But the first step to increasing automation in your practice is to cultivate an automation mindset.
Components of an Automation Mindset
1. View work differently
The first step to cultivating an automation mindset is to start framing your work in terms of how it will get done, as opposed to who will do it. Generally speaking, most businesses have more work that needs to be done than there are people to do it. Our default is to think in terms of headcount since most tasks have, more often than not, been manual.
By shifting our focus away from the who, and instead strategizing the how, we can begin to evaluate our processes in a different light. This opens up our minds to the possibilities of automation.
2. Be intentional
As you cultivate an automation mindset, it’s important to know that not every process is equipped for automation. Processes that require complex, critical thinking or a certain level of creativity are not ideal candidates. The same goes for processes that vary in scope each time they’re carried out.
Generally, the following characteristics should be considered when adopting process automation:
- The process is recurring
- The process needs to be error-free every time
- The process is time-consuming & frequent
- The process is consistent/standardized
Recurring, standardized, and consistent processes are commonly those that deal with data transfer, data management, and scheduling. By automating these tasks, you eliminate human errors like typos or forgotten steps while ensuring that time-sensitive tasks are completed without delay. You also significantly reduce the amount of time spent on frequently performed processes.
Being intentional means that you’re always asking, “SHOULD this process be automated?” The more you ask this, the more you’ll find the right opportunities for automating your work.
3. Celebrate the small wins
An automation mindset embraces the technology we have at our fingertips while recognizing that there are more efficient ways to do our work. It’s important to start small with simpler automations and focus on those wins early on in the process of adoption. By appreciating the ability to automate individual pieces of a more extensive process, you actually start forming the building blocks of more complex automations. This component of an automation mindset helps you to recognize that you’re actively increasing your capabilities and scope while also benefiting from the automations you’ve already built.
4. Tinker with and iterate your processes
Automation should be approached as a continuous, iterative process. An automation mindset opens up opportunities to tinker with your workflows and modify them to continuously optimize efficiency and meet your business needs. You’ll start to find ways to utilize your automations in multiple departments for multiple processes. You’ll begin to feel empowered and the resistance you once felt will be replaced by innovation.
5. Empower your team
In order to successfully maximize your automation efforts, your team must feel empowered to innovate. Large-scale change can be overwhelming, and initiatives like process automation require additional support. Naturally, you may encounter resistance to this type of transformation.
To curb the resistance, remain transparent and open to feedback. Assure them that the purpose of automation is not to eliminate their jobs, but to free up their time and creative energy. Place emphasis on automation’s ability to help them develop professionally while advancing your firm’s initiatives.
One way to energize their automation mindset is to have your team evaluate their manual processes and identify opportunities for automation. Allow them access to a no-code platform to explore the possibilities. Let them set aside time during working hours to create simple automations and get their feet wet. This will not only get them interested (and hopefully excited!), but it will also help to create an automation mindset that permeates throughout your firm.
The Future is Now
Undoubtedly, automation will continue to change how work is done and will go on to redefine our roles while opening up more opportunities for progress. The key to cultivating an automation mindset is to embrace these opportunities and remain open to technological advancements and how they can help you and your firm through cost savings and client satisfaction.