Long gone are the days of pawning off all the office grunt work to the latest cohort of exploited interns. If you want something done right, you have to pay for it, automate it, or do it yourself. When you’re a small business owner or leader, chances are you spend a lot of your workday on option three. And that could be holding your company back from performing at its best.
There are many ways around spending all that time on menial administrative tasks. Maybe you think they’re not worth the time or investment now, and you’ll just sort out the details when you scale. But optimizing now could yield even greater success later. Here are some strategies for evaluating and optimizing your admin so your business can put growth first.
Updating and adding more software solutions to your portfolio can seem expensive at first. But smart, scalable tech is an investment that often pays for itself — especially when you choose the right options. At bare minimum, you probably need a good project management tool and a solid CRM.
These two tools alone can save hours a week on data entry and repetitive processes and keep cross-functional teams in sync. Storing all your customer information in one centralized place can eliminate much of the inefficiency from vital sales functions. In the time you used to spend tracking down one customer’s sales history, you can now call five more prospects.
Automation can also be a big help when it comes to the more menial parts of customer support. While you still definitely need human customer service reps for many tasks, you can digitize the boring basics, with something like Thryv’s Command Center. To put it more bluntly, why send a human to do a job a chatbot can do faster and cheaper? Just make sure you use chatbots sparingly, or you’ll alienate valuable customers.
AI can be an incredible tool in many aspects of administrative labor. This is an area that’s evolving rapidly, and use cases change and develop every day. AI can do everything from drafting basic emails to categorizing data to planning a more efficient workday. Keep an eye on tech publications for novel uses that could turbocharge your pace of business.
For the jobs you still need a flesh-and-blood person to do, make sure to delegate, delegate, delegate. If you can’t bring yourself — or can’t afford — to hire new staff, you have lots of other options. A number of online programs that make finding the right person for a job as simple as, say, booking an Airbnb.
For shorter-term projects, a freelancing platform like Upwork or Fiverr could be your best bet. With these platforms, you can post individual gigs you need help with and get them done remotely on the cheap. You set the price and deadline and choose the best person for the job from a group of qualified bidders.
For more long-term hiring needs, you can contract with a company that handles a specified function, like customer service. There’s also the possibility of working with an agency that contracts with affordable international remote workers. From doing data entry to answering customer emails, there’s always a way to delegate the admin-heavy parts of your business.
As with automation, though, be thoughtful about your delegation efforts. The more you outsource, the less control you have. Too many moving parts, and your customers could get a disconnected impression of your business. However you choose to ease your admin burden, make sure you’re never sacrificing company values, work ethic, or customer experience.
One of the biggest culprits of admin overload is the failure to optimize company workflows. You could be doing everything “by the book,” but if your book isn’t current, you’re not operating at your most efficient. To streamline and standardize for better productivity, you’ll need to start with a thorough audit of company processes and procedures.
First, look for areas where information is siloed, or isn’t being shared as well as it could be between teams. For example, say your content team is recruiting speakers for an upcoming event, not realizing sales has already reached out to the same people to sell them tickets. Instead of rolling all the info into a single call or email, you’re annoying — and possibly losing — clients.
You could’ve avoided some of the duplicate work with a better tech stack. But this also comes down to a basic inefficiency in company procedures. The simplest step would’ve been to have the content and sales teams get together and share info at the start of the event cycle. But in order for this to happen, it must be part of protocol.
To iron the administrative inefficiency out of such processes, you require comprehensive documents that detail the steps teams should take. These documents also have to be on shared cloud drives that every relevant employee can easily access. And employees need the right training in order to understand the importance of these workflows.
At the end of the day, the key to reaching your company’s maximum potential is to always be open to growth. Of course you want to expand and scale externally, but to do that, you have to be internally flexible. That means keeping your finger on the pulse of new trends that can save you time and money. And it also means always being willing to analyze, assess, and invest in new opportunities for improvement.
Angela Spearman is a journalist at EzineMark who enjoys writing about the latest trending technology and business news.