While it may be obvious to some people, in the past several years in software consultancy, I’ve seen several small- to large-sized businesses manage data the same old way they have for decades. Over time they encounter several problems with these approaches, such as loss of data, extra time spent, manually repeating tasks, and so on. Here are my top 6 easiest (and free) ways you can digitize your processes, to make your life easier both professionally, and in your personal life. These tools are used by us personally and help us daily.
Do you share Excel sheets with your team and have multiple copies with names like:
- final report
- copy of final report
- the real final report
- report v1
- report v1 newer
We used to operate like this also (who hasn’t at some stage?), but then made the change to the cloud, which allowed many team members to collaborate on the same document at the same time, easily review the document and leave comments, and most importantly, have a history of all versions of the file saved within Google Sheets (you can do the same with Office 365), so that you don’t need to keep copies of the same file. Both options also save revision histories of files, so you can see older versions of the same file.
Do you have sticky notes or random pieces of paper with passwords (or other important credentials) scribbled on them?
We use to do this also, but then made the change to a cloud-based password management tools such as LastPass or 1Password to manage our passwords. Now we only have to remember the one master password and we get the benefit of enhanced security through different password on every site and a tool that can fill out the details for us. If you need to update a password, it will be updated for everyone on your team. Tools such as this can also generate secure passwords for you, so that you can increase the security of your workplace accounts by avoiding sharing the same passwords across websites.
Do you have to constantly restock your printed forms so that you can fill them out?
Do you use printed forms within your business? Do you use them for sales forms, customer service, incidents, quotes, etc?
Do you have trouble filing, printing or keeping them organised? Then why not move to an online form and centralise your data capture and form management.
It’s very easy to transition this manual process to a digital one and see instant benefits and ROI for the change. Using these forms allows you to save time on manual data processing and entry, as they can be integrated into other platforms. All of the data is stored in a central location allowing for easy searching, collation and potentially analytical reports.
Have you and your colleagues got a lot of hand-written notes spread across multiple places?
Another quick way to digitise processes and save data entry time is to take your notes in a note-taking app, which can then be searched and shared amongst your team. This also means you will never leave a note at home or at your workplace – it’s always where you need it. Another bonus is eliminating hard to read handwriting, which may be difficult for others to read! I don’t know how many times I’ve spilled my coffee on my notes and couldn’t read some of the notes any longer. Some great examples are OneNote, EverNote, and Google Keep.
Do you spend a lot of time on the phone or answering emails for really basic business queries?
Another great way to save some initial customer service time and allow your staff to perform more high-value tasks is to implement a chatbot to aid in the basic questions or handle initial support queries. This saves time with phone calls and emails undertaken by staff.
You can set up a very basic chatbot in little time (it took us about an hour) to provide contact details, support ticket services and newsletter signups.
Check out the article here about how easy it to set up and 5 helpful ways they can be used: https://aerion.com.au/2019/07/04/5-ways-chatbots-can-help-your-business/
Do you keep a list of To-Do’s items on a piece of paper or a notebok on the side of your desk? (And misplace it?)
Another way to digitize processes and gain some extra efficiencies is to move to a task management or To-Do platform.
If you’re after a simple To-Do list, Todoist will allow you to schedule and create To-Do’s that synchronise across all your devices so you never lose track. The paid versions offer extra functionality.
If you want to manage a workflow that has multiple people for specific tasks, then Jira or Trello would be a great fit. We use Jira daily to manage our development flow (it might be too complicated for some business but it can be extremely customised to fit your flow).
Jira and Trello both offer the ability to manage workflows and show tasks in a “board” view to allow you to see your tasks and track their status and progress as well as be able to add sub-tasks and have comments within those tasks.
These are just my favourite ways to easily digitise and improve processes. Have you got any others? Let me know in the comments if you have an inefficient or paper-based process that you were able to digitise. I’d love to hear more about how digitisation has helped you.