As an entrepreneur, have you come up with an optimization process? Here’s how best to automate it

The request we get most often here at Wise Minds is people wanting to automate the process or processes. Primarily because they have heard good things about innovating. They might also want a system because their neighbor has one. But an innovative system doesn’t necessarily work in your favor. How do you make sure you automate in a way where your benefits are maximized?

Map your process

Suppose you own a garage business and you have a system which automatically schedules appointments. You had an entire scheduling system developed for this. However, it does not do the best job at making appointments. The scheduled appointments for customers are at times where you are unavailable since those particular times were not blocked out in the system. This means extra work wherein you have to call customers to tell them their appointment cannot go through, which the customer probably won’t like. So using the system in this case only causes panic. Why? No careful thought was done beforehand. Exactly what would be needed? How would this change the existing process?

Before you begin automating, it is important to look carefully at your own process. In particular, what stage of the process could be made more efficient. This lets you dissect all the steps from beginning to end. In doing so, you get to take a look at each component individually. Which part can be optimized? What could be tinkered with?

If you are a design agency, your process might look like this: it starts with marketing, this is where your customers come in. They fill out a form, the sales department takes the request, and they assess the client. Then you go deeper into conversation with the customer and that’s where the account manager comes in. That’s going to unpack the requirements. A team gets set up, the team works out ideas, the customer gets a proposal with four designs to choose from, and at the end of the day everyone is happy.

The process has to be designed from start to finish. Your company should, at the very least, have this figured out before anything should be automated. Only then can you begin to think of automation. Once you do, you should ask yourself “Which part of the process is not at its optimum? What can I do about it? Is automation the best course of action?” Because it’s not something you can just do haphazardly, it has to be based on the process and what you’ve analyzed of it.

Try it out manually first

I often recommend doing certain parts of your process that you might want to automate manually first. For example, keeping a record can be done initially with Excel. This will give you a clear understanding of the steps and the things that need to be noted. An application does not have to be built right away for something like this. If you first try it out on paper or in an Excel, you can figure out whether doing it manually is working fine, or if automation is the right way to go.

Another option is to create a proof-of-concept application. With this you map out the framework of the application, but stay in the early stages. It’s not a complete system but a pilot system. It’s a way to test whether a system, the automation, will work for your business. We often create these kinds of pilots for companies as well. The question you can answer for yourself with this is simple: Does the system serve a purpose? A proof-of-concept is a cheap, quick, and easy way to see if your way of automating fits your process.

Don’t automate without testing

It is important, before you start fully automating, to test extensively. Then you can see for yourself  whether the system needs to be automated at all. You don’t want to automate processes that aren’t beneficial, rather you should automate processes that can actually add efficiency and value to your system. It would be a waste if components weren’t used. Or if they only cause headaches, as in the earlier example of the calendar function at the auto garage. Testing is a key component if you want to successfully automate.

At Wise Minds, we’re happy to help you automate. But we think it’s important that our work adds value. We get our zest for life from making software that makes life easier, not from software that doesn’t get used.


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