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1 Post authored by: Chris Raffle

“We have finally done it! We attended meetings, toiled over designs, and delivered a new process that is going to streamline our operations while simultaneously improving our customer experience. We just need the team to adopt it, so we would like you all to... read this memo! Even better, the memo outlines the painstaking nuances to remember every day for the rest of your employment, or until we change the process again with a new memo, which we will. Our TPS reports will never be better!” - Bill Lumbergh, non-adopter of CRM

 

Peter Gibbons did not fail when he forgot to include the cover sheet on his TPS report. The eight (Eight? Eight, Bob.) bosses did not fail when they reminded Peter that he forgot his cover sheet. The failure was that Initech did not automate cover sheets to be included in their TPS reports once it became a new process. If they had, they would have never needed to hire eight bosses to deal with memo overhead, they never would have needed the Bobs to consult on their operations, Milton would not have been identified as a glitch in the system, and their offices would not have been razed to the ground.

 

Why Do I Need an Automation Strategy?

I am not here to insinuate that a failure to automate processes will result in a business’s collapse. I am here to say it is an easy pathway to building a workforce of inefficient, apathetic, quickly-angered-by-fax-machines employees. A successful automation strategy answers the questions "Is this good for the customer?" and "Is this good for the employee?" with the benefit to the company being a natural byproduct. By answering those questions, you create a strategy that liberates your teams from the mundane, repetitive, error-prone tasks. It frees your management team from the oversight and multiple corrective discussions they have to conduct to keep things running. Most importantly, that freedom allows everyone to focus on critical, rewarding responsibilities that increase job satisfaction and career growth.

 

What Should I Automate?

Seize your automation opportunities (not your employees’ red staplers) to build an improved customer experience. Here are the phrases for which you should listen to identify potential automation improvements:

  • “Log into…” - Any process requiring your team members or customers to log into multiple systems is ripe for automation. Integrations pay immense dividends when they facilitate the exchange of information and eliminate the frustration of navigating different UIs.
  • “You forgot…” - Human error is unavoidable, but you can mitigate its chances of occurrence. Once someone utters “You forgot…”, analyze why that item needs to be remembered in the first place. Can you automate a process to eliminate that need to remember and the encumbered overhead when someone forgets?
  • “Here is our process…/We have documentation...” - Avoid complacency with policies that work well for the people who have been in the company for five or more years. Revisit your processes as if you were new to the team or company. Are they intuitive or do they require knowing the right place to click or terms to search?
  • “Call Nina…” - Team members with institutional knowledge are great! Requiring direct communications with those team members to achieve critical tasks is not. No matter how good Nina is at her job in Corporate Accounts Payable, knowing when to interact with her directly requires training. Nina will greatly benefit from having a systematized method to handle requests, and if you automate well, you will not need to worry about your entire team adapting to a new workflow each time she takes extended time away from the office.

 

When Is the Right Time to Automate?

Now that you understand why and what to automate, determining when and when not to automate becomes critical. First and foremost, realize you cannot automate everything without sacrificing authentic experiences for your coworkers and customers. Preserve authenticity by focusing on automating the events people expect to happen, not the events requiring critical thought and emotional context. Once you identify the right events, prioritize them based on the following criteria:

  • Customer Impact - Are your customers suffering (e.g., long response times, disconnected selling process, etc.) because of the manual process?
  • Criticality - What happens if this process is done wrong? Is it a gaffe with minor impact to coworkers or customers, or does it put revenue at risk?
  • Frequency - How often is the workflow enacted? Is it once a quarter by one user or multiple times a day by an entire team?
  • Complexity - Could you track this effort via a spreadsheet with minimal overhead, or do you have extensively detailed steps to follow? How much time does the effort typically take to complete, and how much time, active and passive, would be saved with automation?
  • Stability - Does the process change frequently, or does it require minimal maintenance over time?
  • Scalability - Does the current operation align with your company’s forecasted business? Will it adapt if you exceed your goals?

 

How Should I Implement My Automation Strategy?

Select a system that natively supports as many of the functions critical to your automation needs and concentrates around your company’s day-to-day operations. CRM intrinsically meets these requirements. More specifically, SugarCRM offers an unparalleled suite of features and ability to configure the application. Combining SugarBPM, Customer Journey, Sugar Logic, and web logic hooks provides you the essential tools to eliminate operational redundancies.

  • SugarBPM - Approval flows, SLA management, and opportunity aging are just the tip of the iceberg of applications where SugarBPM elevates your operational capacity. SugarBPM provides a diverse toolset to map and manage your existing and future processes that most other CRMs cannot achieve without extensive customization.
  • Customer Journey - Customer Journey enables you to map the crucial stages from prospect to recurring customer giving your teams visibility where everyone is in that cycle. At each stage, you can automate key elements of that engagement to ensure a consistent, predictable experience. The results of that efficiency are improved satisfaction and opportunity win rates.
  • Sugar Logic - Whether you need to perform mathematical calculations, populate fields with specific data points, or conditionally evaluate real-time conditions to give users access to additional fields, Sugar Logic achieves all these use cases with a robust library of formulas.
  • Web Logic Hooks - Administrators configure triggering events per module to send data to external services for additional processing. This feature provides a code-free mechanism to communicate with other business-critical systems.

In the event you have a process that cannot be fully adapted with the above features, developers can leverage Sugar’s framework to implement powerful logic hooks, informative dashlets, and seamless integrations tailored to your exact specifications.

 

Conclusion

We laid out the why, what, when, and how to execute your automation strategy, so you can take the next steps towards energizing your team more than Hawaiian Shirt Friday ever could! You will reap the benefits of increased revenue, productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction all while eliminating the Miltons!

 

Contact us for additional expertise in propelling your automation strategy.

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