Time-saving solutions: 5 tools to automate business processes

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In the initial stages of business growth, operations can be typically straightforward and manageable. Your team is small, and your products or services are limited, allowing for a more hands-on, uncomplicated approach to running your business. However, the nature of growth is complex; as your venture expands, you may find yourself navigating multiple workflows, managing diverse product lines, coordinating with an expanded workforce, and even dealing with the challenges of operating across different time zones.

This not only demands a significant increase in time and effort but also necessitates a level of organisation and oversight that can be overwhelming. Without the use of strategic tools to streamline these processes, you face the risk of experiencing bottlenecks. For businesses aiming to avoid these pitfalls, this guide unveils five types of tools that can automate a variety of processes and act as your digital workforce.

1. Project management tools: Steering the ship

Coordinating tasks and projects across growing teams can feel like you’re juggling too many balls simultaneously. The solution? Consider project management tools. The following project management software platforms can aid in establishing a comprehensive work breakdown structure:

  • Asana: This software helps teams orchestrate their work, from small projects to strategic initiatives. With tasks, projects, conversations, and dashboards, Asana enables teams to move work from start to finish seamlessly.
  • Trello: Known for its simplicity, Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable you to organise and prioritise your projects in a flexible and rewarding way.
  • ClickUp: ClickUp’s Document Hub facilitates smooth team integration, while unique Mind Maps visually outlines project strategies, fostering collaboration and driving project success.

These tools function as an intuitive project planner, allowing you to assign tasks, track progress, and manage deadlines in real time. This task management capability simplifies the handling of ongoing projects, ensuring your team stays organised and efficient, saving your business valuable time.

2. Cloud storage: A digital library at your fingertips

The rise of cloud storage has reshaped the way businesses store and share data. Far from being a fleeting trend, it is now the standard for data storage, supported by data from Statista which states that 60% of corporate data across the globe is already cloud-based. Projections for the future also indicate that by 2025, an estimated 175 Zettabytes (ZB) of data are expected to be stored in the cloud, as predicted in an International Data Corporation (IDC) whitepaper. A range of cloud storage solutions are available, providing secure, online storage that is easily accessible from anywhere, at any time. This includes:

  • Google Drive: A cloud storage platform and productivity suite by Google, Google Drive allows file storage, sharing, and collaborative editing. It smoothly integrates with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for real-time collaboration.
  • Dropbox: Dropbox simplifies the way you create, share, and collaborate with features like Dropbox Paper, which allows real-time document editing with your team.
  • Microsoft OneDrive: Part of the Microsoft 365 suite, OneDrive provides secure cloud storage, allowing file sharing and seamless integration with Microsoft applications. With its robust syncing capabilities, it ensures your files are accessible across devices.

From offering free cloud storage to accommodating large volumes of data on cloud drives, these cloud storage services offer a practical solution for sharing files with team members across the globe, eliminating the time-consuming process of physical file transfers. 

3. Communication tools: Bridging the gap

For businesses with international operations, maintaining seamless team communication is a critical determinant of success. Miscommunication or lack of efficient communication channels can otherwise lead to delays, misunderstandings, and a potential drop in productivity. Consider the following communication tools that can facilitate effective group communication: 

  • Zoom: A leader in modern enterprise video communication, Zoom offers a robust platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, and teleconference systems.
  • Skype: Skype, a Microsoft product, provides high-quality voice and video calls, instant messaging, and file sharing services. It's a versatile tool for business communication across the globe.
  • Slack: An innovative workspace communication tool, Slack promotes team collaboration through channels. With file sharing, voice, and video calls, it integrates seamlessly with other productivity apps, streamlining work communication.

Going beyond instant messaging and video conferencing, these platforms drive global connectivity, enabling effortless exchange of ideas and information. The capability to instantly connect teams across different geographical locations can enhance productivity, teamwork, and ultimately, the success of global business operations.

4. Accounting software: The accountant’s assistant

As the digital landscape advances, it swiftly outpaces traditional financial management techniques with sophisticated, technology-driven alternatives. A variety of software exists today, designed to take the complexity out of accounting and turn it into a streamlined process. Let's take a closer look at some widely-used ones:

  • AccountEdge Pro: The software offers a broad range of features, including inventory accounting, sales and invoicing, and payroll management. It also boasts a comprehensive inventory management module equipped with a Shopify connector, making e-commerce operations a breeze.
  • FreshBooks: Alongside its robust bookkeeping functions, this software offers easy invoicing, detailed expense reporting, and efficient time tracking. Additionally, its client project management capabilities make it a standout choice for businesses looking to optimise their operations.
  • Xero: This all-in-one accounting software streamlines administrative tasks, tracks cash flow efficiently, and simplifies tax filing. Its vast integrations create a customised business management platform, evolving with business needs.

As a comprehensive invoice management system and more, these software solutions provide substantial benefits, particularly to small businesses, by providing automation for several tedious manual tasks. The result is more time for strategic planning and less stress from financial paperwork – a win in today’s fast-paced business environment.

5. Marketing automation tools: Work smarter, not harder

While the impact of marketing on business success is undeniable, manual efforts can often result in a slow, time-intensive process with opportunities for human error. Fortunately, various marketing automation tools allow you to automate processes from email marketing and social media management to lead scoring and customer segmentation. Here are some of the most popular marketing automation tools:

  • HubSpot: This comprehensive tool offers a complete Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform with all the marketing, sales, customer service, and CRM software you need. It also provides educational resources to help businesses grow.
  • Marketo: A complete marketing automation software solution, Marketo offers a range of capabilities for small and medium businesses and large enterprises across various industries. 
  • GetResponse: From basic email autoresponders to advanced drip campaigns, contact scoring, and e-commerce tracking, GetResponse covers all bases to cater to diverse business needs.

Depending on your choice of automation software, you can create detailed customer profiles, schedule posts, and even automate entire marketing campaigns, offloading many repetitive tasks. This repositioning can greatly optimise your marketing workflow and allow your team to concentrate on driving your business forward. 

Enabling growth with DHL Express

Overall, by adopting the right tool, you can rechannel vital resources such as time and money into areas that spur innovation and creativity. However, that’s only part of the journey towards business success. Understanding the growing needs of businesses, DHL Express provides a range of options designed to facilitate unique business demands. 

Whether it's dealing with non-standard deliveries or offering a variety of billing options, DHL Express is committed to providing business owners with choices that reflect their distinct needs. Each option is designed to offer time-saving benefits, thus enhancing overall operational efficiency.

A prime example of DHL's commitment to facilitating smooth operations is the creation of MyDHL+. This platform allows you to consolidate payments, schedule courier collection, and review past transactions. It eliminates the inefficiency of switching between apps or having to liaise with multiple stakeholders on different platforms. With MyDHL+, you can manage all aspects of shipping in one place. Create a DHL Express business account today to start enhancing the overall efficiency of your day-to-day operations. 

For more useful tips, learn how to propel your business to new heights with influencer marketing and make your shipments to customers stand out through your product packaging design.