A robot is taking your job. More precisely, automation is taking over the more tedious aspects of your job so that you can concentrate on the more creative side, and you can be just fine with that.
Your job, like that of many other professionals such as accountants, architects and consultants, probably consists partly of tedious, person-hour intensive data entry. It's a safe guess to venture that you enjoy the more strategic, creative, and/or face-to-face components of your work much more than you do punching numbers into a spreadsheet.
The same undoubtedly applies to your employees. In fact, according to Service Now, 91% of executives believe that their staff spends too much time on administrative work, and 93% think that reducing these tasks "unleashes employee creativity."
With that in mind, let's examine three key functions that your business can and should automate in order to let you and your staff reach your full potential.
1. Automated Accounting
At its simplest, accounting is a matter of reconciling transactions - inventory in and product out, hours billable and project costs. Many small- to medium-sized businesses still use spreadsheets and complicated formulae to then calculate profit and loss based on manually entered transactions. Even if your business is fortunate enough to have already automated part of the process, chances are that you still reconcile your accounts on a daily, monthly or quarterly basis. Any errors require further investigation, reconciliation and documentation.
How many hours each day, month and quarter does your accounting team spend performing such tasks, and what could they do if they were freed from those duties?
More companies are discovering that by automating the mundane aspects of accounting, their accountants are able to unleash their analytical side. Instead of punching numbers into a spreadsheet, accounts could be elevating your bottom line by analyzing trends and suggesting cost-saving measures.
2. Automated Invoicing
Successful service professionals generate hundreds if not thousands of invoices each month, yet many of these invoices detail the same service(s) provided to the same customer on a weekly or monthly basis. Regardless of the repetitive nature, the invoice must be generated after the work is performed to create a unique invoice number for payment and accounts receivable.
An automated invoice system eliminates the need to manually create new invoices, whether they're for the same or variable time and services. The template would look the same as your company's other, less static invoices and would work be handled largely the same as any other invoice. The only difference is the time saved in its creation.
3. Automated Time & Expense Tracking
Your team meets with current and prospective clients, visits sites, and switches between tasks all day. Then, instead of spending time with family and friends in the evening, they have to re-trace their visits, account for each activity, log their mileage and track all expenditures.
Without the drudgery of manually tracking and entering their time and expenses at the end of each day, your staff could achieve a better work/life balance, making them happier and more productive employees. Certain solutions offer the ability to copy old timesheets, instantly convert completed to-do items into time entries, and even automatically track an employee's drive time. That type of flexibility leaves your staff time to focus on what matters.
To sum up the benefits of automation when it comes to how you and your employees spend your time, a study of bank tellers in the wake of the growth of ATMs is illuminating. While ATMs serve the most basic banking needs, like making deposits and withdrawing money, they inherently lack any strategic thinking or interpersonal skills. When bank tellers could begin outsourcing the mundane interactions to machines, they found the opportunity to grow their skills and sell a wider array of services.
Moreover, organizations including National Public Radio and Oxford University agree that jobs that require a high degree of creativity and interpersonal skills and much less likely to be automated into nonexistence.
To learn even more about how automation is already beginning to affect the way you work--and how to capitalize on it--read our white paper, "The Shifting Tide: Predictions for Professional Services in 2020."