Automation for Business to save time and money
Save your staff time and money by automating mundane tasks
I wanted to start this month’s update by talking about an internal case study in automation and give you a real-world example of how a very small manual task once automated can provide a very big decrease in costs. This is something small business owners should be talking to their IT provider about regularly.
Manual tasks within business cost time and money. Automation through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can help to speed up processes and reduce the chances of human error. Implementing AI and ML can be beneficial for businesses in a number of ways. Even semi-automated tasks will see huge benefits to businesses.
Automation and semi-automation increased efficiency and productivity. Automating processes means that employees can focus on other, more important tasks rather than spending their time on manual work. This results in a significant increase in overall productivity as well as an improvement in employee morale and job satisfaction. This will ultimately be reflected in better customer service.
Automation for business removes key-person risk
Another good reason for automating tasks is it reduces key person risk. Key-person risk is the dependency of a company or project on one or very few individuals. When these people leave the company, retire, or become indisposed, it can cause serious problems.
Automating tasks helps to mitigate this risk by dispersing knowledge and responsibility across a team, rather than depending on any one individual. In the case of automation, it ensures that the task is completed with no interaction at all, which has the benefit of reducing key-person risk almost to zero.
What are the different forms of automation?
There are many ways automations can manifest themselves in your business. Here are just a sample:
- A script that runs silently on a schedule each day/week/month etc
- A plugin to an existing system. For your browser or application
- A trigger attached to a database that can run when certain data is entered
- A watcher application that “watches” a folder in your system for new or edited files
- An email rule that fires when certain emails are sent and received
- Code that runs when someone makes or receives a phone call
- Code that runs when someone is added to your CRM
The possibilities are endless.
What do you need to start the automation process?
Firstly, you need a process. Preferably a documented one. Automation is putting that process into code so it can be run without human interaction. So there needs to be an existing process that can be transformed from a manual one to an automatic one. No documentation? That’s ok, but that will be the first step.
Once the documentation is available, the process needs to be tested to make sure all permutations and combinations are covered. If they are not covered, then the system will fail when it hits that point.
At this point, the documentation can be handed over to Intuitive IT and we can look at the best way to make that manual task an automated one.
A case study in automation for businesses
As you all know, one of the services we offer is selling domain names. See below about registering your .au domain.
At this stage, Intuitive IT has 334 domains under management. Each time a domain is renewed, there is an administration cost to move that domain renewal to our PSA, and generate the charge which gets added to your invoice.
Our old model was manual and on average, would take 30 minutes per domain. Therefore just the labour cost for us to manage and bill for a domain is $33.
With a .com.au domain priced at $33.63, selling domains has been a loss leader for us. To register 334 domains, that’s a cost of $10,855.
Certainly a process that can benefit from automation.
So we’ve built an automation script that will do the following:
- Read in all the domains that have been registered in the last month
- Create the domain as an “item” under the client that registered it
- Create a subscription for the domain to be billed
- Add the subscription to the list of items to be billed for the month
A final cross-check of the domain to ensure the billing information is correct before it gets added to the invoice. That is calculated at 1 minute/domain, or a cost of $1.08. That’s a 2,900% reduction in cost!!!
How much does an automation cost to build?
How long does it take to build? An automation script like this was 3 days of work. So the cost is approximately $3,900 ex GST.
However, estimating the cost of automations will vary based on a number of variables
- How complex the automation is
- The number of data sources the automation needs access to function correctly
- Is all the data needed to execute the automation readily accessible? i.e. Are there APIs allowing access to the data easily
- Does the automation also need a user interface?
- Other factors too
We had not considered how powerful this automation would be such a trivial task but ultimately has made the exercise of registering domains profitable for us again.
Every organisation would have many manual processes in place that could see massive improvements in efficiency. What is yours?
Register your .au domain
The auDa, the administrator of Australia’s .au top-level domain, has announced that .au direct domain names – like intuitiveit.au – have been available from 24 March 2022.
What this means is if you own a .com.au, .org.au, or .net.au domain, you have a chance to secure the .au version before it becomes available to the public.
Here’s an example:
Intuitive IT owns intuitiveit.com.au which means I have the ability to pre-register the domain intuitiveit.au. If I don’t register it by September 20 2022, it will become available to the public.
In order to protect our brand, I have already registered the domain and I recommend you do the same.
If you want to protect the brand of your business and stop squatters or competitors from taking advantage, you’ll need to act now.
The pre-registration period has now ended but your .au equivalent of your .com.au is still protected until September 20 2022. Let us know if you’d like to purchase it.
About the author
Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.