Choosing the right business automation software for your company can be an overwhelming job—after all, there are dozens of automation programs, and they all automate different aspects of your business. To help you figure out how to choose the software you need, use our quick reference guide.
What Are the Desired Business Outcomes?
When shopping for automation software, the first question you should ask yourself is what your desired business outcomes are. Are you trying to ramp up your social media? Spend less time on bookkeeping? Cut down on resources spent on data entry? Narrow down what your most immediate goals are, and identify what process automation software can fulfill them.
Once you know what tasks and workflows you want to automate, you can look for automation software that focuses on those first. Depending on what areas you are looking to improve performance in, there is sure to be a software solution to help you automate it!
What Other Systems Are Going to Be Integrated?
When you begin building a suite of automation solutions for your business, you want to be able to integrate the various tools you start using. This way, your software can all be linked to work together to create a cohesive framework. If you don’t do it this way, you’ll end up with a jumble of tools that all work in isolation, which may ultimately complicate your efficiency efforts rather than helping them.
To start, make a checklist of the features you need. Once you find automation software that offers all of them, find out if the software is compatible with other tools. Think of tools you plan on having in the future, and the tools you use currently.
For example, say you have a WordPress website and want a social media marketing automation tool. You’ll want your social media automation system to be compatible with WordPress, so that you can set it to publish links to new blog posts on your website straight to your social media platforms.
If you aren’t sure if any given tool is a good fit, many have free trials you can use to get acquainted with the system’s features, learn its limitations, and make sure it integrates well with your existing toolbox. Cross-browser testing will ensure the software works in all the web browsers you use for your business.
Is There Room for Scalability?
As your business grows, you want to be using tools that are able to grow with it. This is why room for scalability is incredibly important while you’re choosing your automation software and other applications. If you produce software that calls for test-driven development, for example, will you have enough leeway for all your developers to do the testing they need?
For another example, some subscription-based automation solutions offer limits at different price tiers. You might only be able to choose a limited range of options, or be limited to a certain number of automations per month. Make sure that the highest tier will be sufficient for your business even after you grow. For now, the “Basic” package might be fine, but when you have $1,000,000 in revenue and 150 employees, will even the top-tier “Premium” package be enough?
Think about how you’ll be able to adapt to your future needs in the long term, and choose solutions that are agile enough to remain useful as your business grows. If you don’t, and have to switch to different automation tools after the fact, you’ll be faced with an extremely tedious and time-consuming process of re-learning and reconfiguring a completely new and unfamiliar system from scratch. Automation is supposed to save time and increase efficiency, so don’t let a hasty decision cause the opposite effect.
For example, if you start using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform for lead nurturing, or other sales automation tools, pick one that offers enough flexibility even when your company grows to hundreds or thousands of leads. Pick one that only supports a couple of dozen, and you’ll find yourselves having to start all over, possibly having to re-enter leads into a new system from scratch.
Even if it means spending a little bit more time or money in the beginning, choose tools that are robust enough to provide for your needs for the whole life of your business. Otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself up for a very frustrating dead end.
Is the Software Easy to Use?
If automation software is too complicated or clunky to learn, then it’s no good. Being user-friendly is extremely important. Thankfully, free trial versions make it easy to get your feet wet and find out if a tool is intuitive.
Make sure everyone on your team who will be using the software gets a chance to try it out, taking notes on anything they find confusing or difficult. Similarly, have them write down features they’d like to be able to use. Figure out an approximate timeframe for how long you think it will take to get everyone fully trained on using the software.
If the software is hard for your team to use or doesn’t include all the features they need, the benefits of using it will be negated. Don’t let this happen, only to realize it after you’ve already paid for a subscription to the software!
Automation tools can’t do it all. For example, if your company develops software and needs to do software testing, there’s no way to avoid having a manual-testing phase that is completed by human hands. Automated software testing is important, but it’s no replacement for a manual testers.
For all those tasks you can automate, however, choosing the right automation platform from the beginning will set you up for success.