7 Business Tasks Your Competitors are Automating

Ilmie Sham Ku

We all have some business tasks in our workday that we dread doing. Most of the time, these to-dos are often repetitive, administrative, mundane and simply boring work that we can't help but procrastinate on or rush through simply to get it off our plate. This costs your business money - the time and effort employees spend on these tasks hinders your bottom line.

So what are your successful competitors doing to counteract these snooze-inducing repetitive business tasks that take away from meaningful work? How do they keep employees engaged in their work and reduce turnover rates? The answer? Automation. Thanks to today's advancements in technology, many businesses have adopted business management software to automate a number of these tasks and free up time for employees to focus on things that really matter in the business.

It seems like a very simple concept, yet many businesses have no idea which tasks to automate or how to begin the process of automating, let alone deciding which software is right to do so. Below are some processes we've seen customers save hours and even days by automating with business management software. Consider the following as best practices for your business.

Managing Multiple Sales Channels

One obvious place to try and automate repetitive business tasks is when you’re dealing with multiple sales channels. Having to manually re-key data into multiple systems and spreadsheets is time consuming and error-prone. A key reason for this repetitive work is that the various sales channels of the business are all disconnected. Businesses that have multiple sales channels including  eCommerce, online marketplaces such as Amazon, tradeshows, POS systems, phone, email etc, have to dedicate a number of resources to managing sales orders that come in through these various platforms to ensure all orders are being fulfilled.

Implementing the right business management software acts as a central hub, storing all sales information in one system. This means that regardless of the channel a sale comes in through, it is accounted for in the system so employees have information that is always accurate and in real-time.

Not only is data centralized, but employees no longer have to manually update things like inventory counts once a sale is made. Let's say you have 100 shirts and someone orders 50 shirts from your eCommerce site. No manual intervention is required to update the inventory count for that particular item online or in your business management system - integration between both applications means inventory is updated automatically.

Landed Costs Tracking 

Another time-consuming repetitive business task is the need to track landed costs. This is especially true for businesses that do not have software that calculates true inventory cost meaning fees such as duties, freight, and shipping costs associated with a product. Without proper landed cost tracking software, your business has to manually enter these fees into all your purchase orders. This type of manual repetitive task can instead be easily automated with the right system to drastically save you time and help you make more informed purchasing and pricing decisions. The right software can also track the true inventory costs and associate different percentages based on things like the weight of a product.

Electronic Document Management

When you think of the repetitive business tasks that you do on a daily basis, chances are most of them include some sort of document management whether it's manually transferring data from documents or retrieving information from documents. These tasks often take up the most time out of your day which is why electronically managing documents is one of the best competitive advantages you can have.

Electronic document management tools provide functionality to automatically parse, read, and translate physical documents into an electronic format. A great example of this is the ability to automatically translate information from a PDF document into your business management system. You can then instantly access files from anywhere on your computer or mobile device. This means you can index important data in seconds and quickly look up any documents using search functions in the application. No more manually keying in data. This is also beneficial for your sales team who need quick access to various documents when they're speaking with customers or even suppliers.

Inventory Reordering

If you just rolled your eyes at the thought of this task - you're not alone. It goes without saying that it is quite difficult to manage the reordering of product, especially when dealing with large quantities of inventory movement. Tracking the movement of product and having access to historical sales information on specific products is crucial to making smart reordering decisions. Manually tracking this information and getting reordering "just right" is challenging for any type of business. This is why many businesses have automated the reorder process with technology such as business management software.

For example, some software systems include reorder reports where historical sales data pulled from the system within a given timeframe indicates the number of units presently on-hand for multiple items, the product on backorder, the product on purchase over and average product sold within a given timeframe that you choose. You can set criteria/values in these live linked reports to alert you when stock is getting low and needs to be reordered and the quantity that needs to be reordered. Then, depending on the system, with the simple push of a button, you can send the reorder information back into to the software to generate purchase orders for those specific items.

Verification Barcode Scanning

Your warehouse workers who are responsible for the picking, packing and shipping of orders most likely have the largest number of repetitive tasks on a day-to-day basis. While not all repetitive tasks can be eliminated due to the nature of the role, you can make processes a little easier with the right business management software.

For example, once a worker has picked an order, they can use verification scanning to pack the items. What this means is that they will be able to cross check the items against the pick slip/ sales order numbers stored in the system to identify any issues.

Management of Customer Information

If you are a growing business, I'm sure you've heard employee grievances about re-keying customer information, especially if your business deals with credit card payments. Imagine only having to key in credit card information and customer information once. When a repeat customer makes an order, employees no longer have to ask for their information such as shipping address, credit card number, phone numbers, emails (the list goes on) each time if it is already entered into the business management software.

Reporting & Analytics

Depending on the business management software vendor you choose, you will be able to leverage data already entered into the system in order to automatically generate reports. These reports can be updated within a period of time using the live linked data from the system to gain real-time insight into business health.

For instance, let's say your sales department manually tracks top products sold by the number of units purchased. This can take hours and hours of manual data entry, whereas with the right business management software, once a product is purchased, that sales data lives within the system. Salespeople can then quickly query all products sold within a given timeframe to gain instant insight into higher performing as well as low performing products. They can also automate the distribution of these reports to the appropriate stakeholders.

As you can see, there are several common business tasks that your business can automate to help you beat your competition. As a starting point, check with your existing business management software vendor (your accounting and inventory management system), to determine if there are features of the software that can help with the above tasks. If not, it may be time to consider upgrading your system to something that can help your business grow with automation.