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AUTOMATION

Day-to-day Operations

Software Tools

First, let’s talk about Tools. You may use a variety of tools that help your team with everything from time tracking, communication and performance to analytics and finance. These are the pieces of software that let us do our job. Things like G Suite, Slack, Calendar and Mailchimp are all tools that make one little facet of our day-to-day jobs a little easier.

Step 1: List your tools

Catalog all of the tools that you and your team use on a day-to-day basis by generating a list of all the software that you use (spoiler alert, it’s probably a long list!).

Don’t worry, you will almost definitely forget a tool or two the first time you try to make this list. You can always revise it later if needed.

We recommend saving this list as a database in Airtable and updating it whenever you start using a new tool or stop using an old one. By keeping track of all of the software you use, you can avoid the redundancy of having multiple apps that all do the same thing, and you can start building a picture of where your business-critical data lives.

Business Processes

Business Processes are the overarching steps needed to perform a process. For example, an Employee Onboarding process will have a list of tasks for the company to do, and another list of tasks for the new employee to do. The list might include items like watch the introduction video, set up your email, share your calendar, make accounts for company software, etc.

All business processes consist of a mix of Robotic Work and Human Jobs. Let’s take a look at the difference between these two task types next.

Step 2: List some of your high-level business processes

These could be things like posting to social media, employee or client onboarding, KPI Tracking, etc. If you can, then try to write bullet points about what each step is.

Robotic Work

These are things like copying and pasting information, moving files to different directories, uploading files, or sending a confirmation message once another task is finished.

They take little to no intellectual effort, but are essential for your team to perform their work. Robotic Work is typically a list of tasks that are required to create the right environment needed to perform Human Jobs.

Step 3: Identify which steps in the high level business processes are Robotic.

  • Some examples of robotic work include:
    Opening email attachments (e.g., new email matching search)
  • Logging into web apps (e.g., a tool from the example tool kit)
  • Moving files and folders in Drive
  • Reading and writing to databases like Airtable or Sheets
  • Reading and writing to databases like Airtable or Sheets
  • Connecting to APIs
  • Making calculations
  • Extracting structured data
  • Collecting social media analytics
  • Following if/then rules

We call robotic work “robotic” because it’s the kind of work that can be performed by robots, which is our term for any automation that performs a task. A “robot” could be an automation in Zapier that saves every link you post in Slack to an Airtable Database, or a script that scrapes data from webpages for research.

RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is growing rapidly and helping companies to improve the quality and consistency of their output on top of saving time. By identifying the tasks that could be performed by robots, you’ll already be one step closer to automating those tasks.

Human Jobs

Human Jobs are the parts of a business process that involve mindful tasks, as opposed to robotic tasks. These mindful tasks need to be completed and executed well to ensure that the overall business process is done correctly. Mindful tasks are activities that require creative, analytic, strategic, and thoughtful work. These tasks require your focus and attention in order to be complete. Additionally, they are typically the most fulfilling areas of your work. You’re happier when you have time to do more mindful tasks and spend less time on robotic work.

Step 4: Identify Mindful Tasks inside of each Business Process

Some examples of Mindful Tasks include:

  • Making strategic decisions
  • Building personal or professional relationships
  • Collaborating on ideas
  • Creating content (graphic, written, video, etc.)
  • Interpreting data and trends
  • Making moral and ethical decisions
  • Granting final approvable on a deliverable

Ultimately, one of the main goals of implementing automation is to create more time and focus for your mindful tasks. Interrupting your complex mindful tasks with a flurry of robotic tasks throughout the day breaks your concentration and requires to spend more time on all of your work, as shows.

Automation Infrastructure

Automation Infrastructure

Human Jobs are the parts of a business process that involve mindful tasks, as opposed to robotic tasks. These mindful tasks need to be completed and executed well to ensure that the overall business process is done correctly. Mindful tasks are activities that require creative, analytic, strategic, and thoughtful work. These tasks require your focus and attention in order to be complete. Additionally, they are typically the most fulfilling areas of your work. You’re happier when you have time to do more mindful tasks and spend less time on robotic work.

Documentation

Documentation consists of the flowcharts, checklists and how-tos that are essential for knowledge transfer as someone new begins to perform various Business Processes. There are two types of documentation that are massively helpful:

  • Knowledge Base – apps like for text documents, or for flowcharts
  • Database – software like to create databases for your automations, resources, and more

As your documentation about processes get better, so will the information you’re able to collect and re-use. That is why Knowledge Bases and Databases are so important. Your automations will constantly be pushing and pulling information from your databases, while you are able to keep your Knowledge Base up to date for all of the Mindful Tasks that you and your people will need to perform.

Some examples of Documentation:

  • A flowchart that illustrates one of your business processes step-by-step
  • Text documents or video walkthroughs that describe how to complete certain tasks
  • A database of your company’s key resources, people, tools, networks, and more
  • Sample documents that serve as examples of finished deliverables

Step 5 – Document the Mindful Task Processes

Asset Templates

Asset Templates get you 90% of the structure with 10% of the content. They let someone quickly open a template and immediately know what to do. There is a clear starting point (the template) and a clear end point (an example of what ‘done’ looks like — referenced in Documentation). Google Drive has an entire template library, check it out if you haven’t yet.

Step 6 – Create Templates from your best Deliverables

  • With Zapier, you can insert information directly into any GSuite document type. Just remove the client specific information and put your variable inside of curly braces.
  • For example, at the tops of all my Google documents, I have my Synapse + {{clientName}} in the header. Give it a try on Zapier.

Automated Work

This is where all the magic happens. Leveraging a tool like (alternatives include among others), you’re able to connect multiple tools together into a powerful If→ Then sequence. You could add logic like “if xyz is true, then do A; if not, then do B”. It can get pretty sophisticated.

For example, at my software design studio, we had a 35-Step onboarding process that was initiated by an internal, 10 question survey. Surveys are one of the best methods to automate internal work.

With those 10 questions, we were able to accomplish 35 separate tasks, including:

  • Create a QuickBooks Customer, send an invoice, input an estimate
  • Create a slack channel & send template messages
  • Create G-Drive structure, copy & move template files
  • Send a “welcome email”
  • Schedule the next 5 meetings internally on the calendar

Operational Clarity

Passive Data Collection

Create Time for Better Work

Company Devsatva