Written by Andrew Davison, NoCode Automation Expert, Founder of Luhhu - an automation agency.
Automation tools in business have a long & storied history. For as long as people have built businesses around the use of multiple apps - they’ve sought ways to streamline processes between them.
What are Zapier & Integromat and how do they work?
In a nutshell, they work by allowing you to create workflows and help your tools and software communicate among themselves to make your life easier.
An event happens in one app - for example a new deal added in Pipedrive - triggers an event in another app - like a Slack message to your team.
Various filters, formatters and other functions allow you to process the data passing between apps in a myriad of ways, making your workflows even more versatile.
What does NoCode automation mean for your business?
The beauty of these tools is that they run 24/7, sitting in the background watching, waiting for new things to happen.
As a business owner, there are 3 advantages you can look at when considering whether to automate.
- Time and money saved
Staff cost money, and if you’re paying them to punch in data all day long - frankly, it’s money wasted. Automating manual admin task let’s you cut headcount or redeploy staff to more productive areas of your business.
- Increased capacity
As you grow, you’ll reach a point where even more staff can’t keep you on top of the sheet amount of work that needs doing to run your business. The great thing about automated workflows is it doesn’t matter whether they run once per hour, or 1,000 times. They keep chugging 24/7 doing what you need them to.
- Mistakes avoided
Do manual data entry all day long and one of these days you’ll type something in wrong. This could c ause anything from minor embarrassment to a regulatory nightmare. Automated processes avoid that. They do the same task, the same way - every time!
Where to learn about Zapier and Integromat
This is a subject bigger than we can cover in this one article - but on our blog, we’ve published some in-depth guides for Zapier and Integromat, that you should definitely check out.
Some tips for getting started in your company
- Have someone take charge. They should be operations-focused and a constant learner.
There is a learning curve to navigate, whichever automation tool you choose, so it’s important to have someone leading the effort that has the time and constant motivation to learn.
That person also needs to know how your business works on a fundamental level, so can start to plan what processes can be automated.
- Put aside 6 - 12 months for this process and develop in phases.
You won’t learn, nor be able to automate things overnight - it’s a steady process that should be done in carefully planned phases so you can get used to how things operate.
- Don’t try and automate everything.
As tempting as it can be to dream of a business where you sit back while it runs itself - it’s a pipedream. While some parts of your operation are ripe for automation other processes can be a mix of so intricate and so insignificant that you’ll spend more time automating than you’re ever likely to save going forward.
- Understand that shifts like this can be disorientating
Letting a tool run your business requires a leap of faith, both from you - and your team which have been doing things one way for a while. Make sure you communicate the changes you’re making so staff understand and have faith that things aren’t being messed up.
- Expect issues, so have backups and plan fallbacks.
Things go wrong, especially when you’re first building automations - you’ll overlook things or bugs will appear. So it doesn’t drive your business off the railes, have a plan B in mind, so you can easily switch back to manual processes if needed.
How to plan, and what to automate
When client’s ask us what they should automate, I give them a simple strategy.
Take a piece of paper, and start writing down each and every process in your business that you do manually on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Note what you do, what apps are involved, the data exchanged between them, and most importantly - how much time it takes you (and be honest here).
Using that, you can quickly identify which processes to automate first - the ones that will be most impatful.
How will you know if you’ve succeeded?
As a parting thought - let’s talk about success in automation. What does that look like?
You might be tempted to look at metrics like tasks automated - but that can all be vanity. Afterall a process can have more or fewer steps in spite of what’s actually being done. It doesn’t tell you anything.
The real things to measure go back to what we spoke about before:
- How much time have you saved?
- How much money have you saved?
- Are you doing more and making less mistakes?