Brushing your teeth in the shower, catching up on the news while making a morning smoothie, and drinking that smoothie on the way to work – you’ve finished a ton of efficient, time-saving processes before even stepping foot into work. At the office, finding areas to save time, money and resources throughout your daily processes isn’t much different.

Business process automation is, at its core, a never-ending cycle of improvement and optimization.
Before You Automate Checklist

A good way to spot areas for improvement and track your results is to quantify every internal process so you can start making data-based decisions. You know exactly how long it takes you to get ready in the morning, which means you also know exactly when you need to wake up, which processes you need to complete in the allotted time, and which steps within your processes are the most critical to getting to work prepared.

All of this data helps you answer questions for adapting and improving your processes. What if you want to stop at Starbucks before work? Looking at the numerical data regarding how long each step takes you to get to work, you can find uncritical steps to cut or estimate how much earlier you’ll need to wake up.

At the office, you have similar processes that need improvement or change. Quantifying your existing processes will give you the data you need to make those changes in an efficient and productive manner. Some questions you’ll be able to answer after quantifying your processes are:

  • Are some of the steps in the process costing more than they should?
  • Are there a lot of missed deadlines and bottlenecks within the process?
  • Which step within the process is most critical to product output?
  • Is there any way to make it more efficient?
  • Is it possible to automate this process?
  • Is there a better automation platform for me out there?
  • How have changes I’ve made altered my business?

Quantifying Qualitative Data

There is a common misconception that qualitative processes cannot or should not use numerical data. Unfortunately, this misconception prevents what could be actionable, measurable data from being used to get a better picture of a business’s internal workings or improve processes through filling gaps or fixing pain points.

Using quantitative data for processes like revenue, inventory and customer retention might be second nature to your company, since those and many other processes are set up to output measurable numbers. But you can quantify qualitative processes in your business, such as brand strength, customer satisfaction, and employee skills, too.

Don’t Let Your Hard Work Go to Waste

Instead of letting all the could-be data from your daily tasks go to waste, you can start tracking your efforts numerically today. For most tasks, a good way to start creating quantitative data is by tracking time. For example, for content writers, most performance checks involve comments and edits, but you can also track how long it takes to write a certain kind of content, how many revisions that content has to go through, or how many edits someone makes for each piece of content. This information helps managers to:

  • Know how much work an employee and the team can get done in an allotted time period
  • Track which parts of a project take the longest
  • Compare employees’ work logs
  • More efficiently allocate certain projects
  • Find areas that need improvement

Similarly, you can track the cost of each task in a process or use a coding or rating system to add a numerical value to the amount of effort a task took or the level of difficulty of the task.

Making Data-Based Decisions for Your Internal Processes

Whichever way you decide to quantify your processes, your end result will be the same cold, hard data. This is what all of your work has built up to. Being able to make data-driven decisions about your business ensures objectivity and allows you to have all the information you need to make the right decisions for your business. For example, if you’re thinking about bringing on another copywriter to take the load off your team, you can look at the data to determine how much work needs to get done and how much your current team can get done, and then decide if a new employee is needed.

One the best benefits of having quantitative data on your internal processes is that you will be able to better determine the ROI of automating each process. Overall, you can make smarter, data-based decisions about the internal workings of your business.

Data-Driven Decisions Bring Data-Driven Results

Documenting your internal workflow processes and recording quantitative data for each task is the most reliable and efficient way to start improving your business immediately. With recorded, quantitative data on your side, you’ll be able to:

  • Pinpoint areas that aren’t performing as efficiently as they could so you can determine the cause and solution right off the bat.
  • Learn each of your employees’ strengths and weaknesses so you can better play to their individual abilities.  
  • Keep detailed records of your past processes to look over during quarterly reviews or to use when looking to bring on investors.
  • Cut unnecessary tasks and processes from your daily routine to ensure maximum efficiency and no wasted effort, time or budget.
  • Find tasks with ROIs that would benefit from automation so you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your automation system.
  • Easily determine if there’s a need for a new employee or not so your team is never over- or under-worked.

In order to start benefiting from your quantitative data and begin automating processes that are best suited for automation, begin with an outline of your processes and a step-by-step plan to make sure you’re making the best use of time and resources. The Before You Automate checklist is a great tool to help you get started.

About Aslan Williams
Aslan Williams grew up in a small, southern town, tailgating at football games and watching sunsets over the Mississippi Delta. Since leaving her southern roots four years ago, she has lived in five countries, practicing yoga, teaching English and honing her marketing skills at various International internships. Now, as a recent graduate from UCSB, Aslan is applying her degrees in Communication and English in her role as Content Engagement Coordinator at Ontraport.