Pre automation checklist: prepare your business in 5 simple steps!

Running a business can feel like navigating an assault course, with the complexities of AI, digital marketing, cyber threats, and ever-evolving technology…all while trying to pursue something you enjoy on your own terms! This unexpected necessity to juggle so many roles and master specialised knowledge can seem like learning an entirely different language,  making it understandable why you might make hasty operational decisions or be drawn to the latest  ‘shiny thing’ with the promise of quick wins. Automation is one such beacon of hope, offering the promise of reduced working hours and streamlined operations. At Empire we champion the cause of Automation, recognising that every business has repetitive and predictable tasks that could greatly benefit from automation, such as scheduling appointments, client onboarding, marketing etc.  
You might be tempted to automate a bothersome process simply to avoid dealing with it, or to hastily adopt automation, enticed by the potential for significant time savings. Whilst automation is indeed a powerful tool, it is not a miracle quick fix and certainly not a ‘set and forget’ solution. It requires careful planning, ongoing management and as thorough understanding of your business processes before you dive in. Automation should be thought of as a strategic ally in your business, not a frontline solution.
So when should you automate? How do you know when your business is ready for this step? Check out our steps below.

Step 1: Document, Streamline, and Simplify
Firstly, document all your processes to identify areas for simplification. It is vital to avoid the temptation to automate mid process without a thorough review, as this will likely perpetuate existing inefficiencies and outdated practices.
Instead, use tools like Miro or Mural, or even good old pen and paper, to map out your workflows. As you see the steps in front of you, you will likely identify steps that are redundant, tasks that should be reorganised or opportunities to reallocate resources.
ACTION >>> Map out steps in core processes and simplify
Step 2: Understand and Test
With newly simplified processes in hand, delve deeper by testing them end-to-end with your team. Conduct walkthroughs to identify potential issues you may have missed or ‘what if’ scenarios that could affect future potential automation or any outliers that might be missed by automation and their potential impact on your business.
ACTION >>> End-to-end test with team
Step 3: Ensure Data Integrity
Data integrity is crucial for successful automation. It involves verifying that the information feeding into your processes is accurate, consistent, and reliable. For instance, if an new client onboarding form lacks a ‘mandatory’ field for email address, it could results in missed communication and sales opportunities, because unbeknownst to you, they won’t receive your nurture email sequence. .
So how do you go about ensuring data integrity? With an audit!
  • Audit your data sources (i.e., forms, inbound calls, reports, emails, databased)
  • Assess data quality (i.e. are there duplicates, inconsistences, outdated info)
  • Clean up inaccuracies (all we suggest deleting old, irrelevant, or unused data before automating.
  • Standardise data across all platforms (i.e. all new enquiries regardless of where they come from should use the same form…. yep on the phone, on social, on website.
ACTION >>> Assess, clean, standardise data.
Step 4: Choose the Right Automation Tools
Don’t get us wrong, we love platforms like Zapier, but it has become a slight ‘default’ approach and there are a lot of options are there now. But before you even investigate a 3rd party automation tool, have you considered your opportunities through native automation?
Native automation is prebuilt actions you can easily set up within a singular platform, or between, multiple platforms that have ‘native’ integrations. Due to this infrastructure, these automations are generally more stable, and reviewing should be a first stop!
ACTION >>>Check out current tech stack native automation options and leverage.
Step 5: Facilitate Employee Transition
Automation still has a very human element – they set them up, they maintain them…. but they also work alongside them. As such is it vital to train your team on what has changed, how it impacts their roles, what it looks like, what an error might look like. Establish a feedback loop for continuous improvement will also help ensure that the transition of processes that were manual, to automated, is as smooth as possible.
Action >>> Totally transparent team training
Bonus Tip: Caution with New or Frequently Changing Processes
Before automating a highly repeatable process, ensure it is stable and has a low likelihood of frequent change. A process might seem repeatable yet be evolving or simply too new. We would advise allowing the process to stabilise manually before considering automation opportunities. Early automation of a new or changing process can result in wasted resources and may prevent the process from reaching its optimal efficiency.  
ACTION >>> BE patient, take new or changing processes off the agenda
In conclusion, while automation holds the promise of transforming your business operations, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. By following the outlined steps—documenting and streamlining processes, understanding and testing them, ensuring data integrity, choosing the right automation tools, and facilitating employee transition—you can make informed decisions about when and where to implement automation. Remember, automation is a powerful ally when used strategically, but it requires a thoughtful approach to truly enhance your business operations and support your team. Embrace automation with caution and care, and watch your business thrive in the efficiency it brings.
Ready to Unlock Optopia, a place where your business operations ‘just work’?
If you’re wearing all the hats and want to automate, but now realise you have some homework to do, reach out for more information on Service Delivery Blueprinting, Processes and Automation. Unlock the secrets of Optopia by booking a call with us. Learn all you need to know about operations support and the transformative impact it can have on your business. Your journey to Optopia begins here.
Book a call today to discover how to grow your business without the grind.
Looking for some DIY tips to implement now and enhance your service delivery? Join our Revamp Your Service Delivery mini eLesson series for FREE. Five mini lessons over ten days, loaded with tips, real-life examples, and resources. Head to this link and get started!
Skip to content