As a business owner, you’ll recognise the signs that you’re getting too busy. Before you know it, your staff will feel the pressure too – and that’s bad for service delivery as overworked staff are more liable to make mistakes. If the workload has become unmanageable, then you could ease the pressure by cutting out repetition and duplication in your processes, perhaps with the help of technology. Here are 10 ways to #1. Automate common tasks Audit your business for frequent tasks and explore options for automating aspects of the process. For instance, where you’re sending a similar or identical email to multiple contacts, you can use mail merge to drastically reduce the labour input. You can also automate marketing processes using platforms like Swift Digital and Hubspot. Automating email, social media and lead generation doesn’t just save time; it also enhances lead management and gives you much greater scope for tailored customer communications because you can achieve so much more with less resource. #2. Use checklists Checklists can help prevent duplication and the omission of important steps in a process. High-risk sectors – like the military, aviation or space exploration – make extensive use of them, because it’s essential to get things right first time, every time. But even if you run a business where lives aren’t at risk – like a marketing company, for instance – checklists can still help you avoid costly mistakes that are time-consuming to rectify. #3. Delegate responsibilities Are you getting the most out of your staff? You may find that some employees can take on some of your managerial tasks, freeing you up to devote more time to more pressing priorities. Where appropriate, empowering employees to make important decisions not only frees up your time, it can also boost their job satisfaction and therefore motivation and productivity. And delegation isn’t necessarily a non-starter if you can’t find staff with the right skills and experience to take on a particular task. Why not train relevant employees in these disciplines? Versatility is an invaluable quality in the modern workplace. If your marketers can use and understand CRM tools, for instance, then it could enhance collaboration with salespeople, as well as giving you more options when delegating tasks involving CRM platforms. #4. Consolidate your insurance cover Consider the merits of a common annual renewal date for all your policies. That means reviewing everything at once with your insurance agent rather than dealing with each insurance policy at different junctures throughout the year. You’ll certainly save time. And you’ll see the bigger picture more clearly – as will your broker. You may find that merging insurance renewals to create an annual ‘block’ of policies could even produce collective discounts. Just be aware that some types of insurance might be excluded from comprehensive business owner’s insurance, such as auto insurance, disability insurance and health insurance. And not all businesses will meet eligibility requirements for an all-in-one business policy. #5. Evaluate outsourcing options In principle, outsourcing repetitive tasks that are peripheral to your core business allows you to focus more purposefully on meeting the customer’s needs. Wage differentials between some Asian countries and Australia mean the same volume of work can be fulfilled at a fraction of the cost. In practice, outsourcing can have a damaging effect on perceptions of your brand, so decisions must be carefully researched and costed. It’s undoubtedly beneficial to get tasks done more cheaply – cost savings can be as high as 60% when outsourcing work to India, for instance – but not if service standards are compromised. #6. Consider specialising Are you spreading yourself too thinly when it comes to the range of products/services you now offer? Focusing on what you excel at, and/or what produces the greatest profit margin, may boost service quality, customer satisfaction and – at least in the medium- to long-term – overall revenues. It could be well worth the loss of other revenue streams. The end result of such slimming down could be the development of a more profitable, easier to run ‘niche’ business. #7. Review your telephony system A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system, where your office phone service is delivered through your internet connection, offers more functionality and can cut costs significantly. Voicemails can be handled just like any other computer file: they can be stored, copied, forwarded via email, archived and much more. #8. Consolidate your software How many software systems do you run? Do your employees have to follow time-consuming data entry routines to transfer information across systems? Suitable for both small and large businesses, integrated software packages have the potential to be real time-savers by cross-referencing data within one software platform. Platforms like Mulesoft reduce duplication by putting an end to the repeated entry of identical information into multiple platforms. It can also make data analysis faster and more accurate. #9. Invest in a server A server is a powerful computer on which you can centrally store and automatically back up data, among other things. Allowing staff to directly access each other’s files it eliminates the need for sharing files over email and means employees can always access the latest version of a file. Servers can also enhance the performance of both individual PCs and your network in general by taking care of storage and other tasks centrally. If investing in a piece of hardware isn’t for you, there are various services that will allow you to store content on their cloud based servers. Large international providers include OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive. It’s important that you consider the legal requirements when storing sensitive and confidential data. #10. Automate customer-service responses Slash the amount of time spent responding to customer queries by funneling customers – where possible – to standardised, preexisting responses. Don’t list your phone number or email address prominently on your ‘contact us’ page. First give customers a drop-down menu of frequently asked questions (FAQs). If their query matches, then you’ve saved your staff from spending valuable time handling the query and your customer gets the answer they wanted within seconds. Should their query warrant a personalised response, however, you should still provide at least an email contact form, if not a phone number or ‘Live chat’ function too. Hopefully the tips in this post will help you streamline your business and free up your time to be more productive. If you have any to add please let us know in the comments.