A Guidebook to Building an Automated Workplace

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 28/02/2022
automated workplace guide

If you’re a founder, a director, a manager or anyone with the power of shaping the way your teams run - we want you to read this article. Automation is not a fad. It is here to stay and to help businesses evolve. Already today your chances to stand up to the competitors are significantly lower if all your processes are run manually. This is why today we will be teaching you about creating an automated workplace.




The topic of automation hasn’t stopped being one of the hottest topics for over a decade now. Whether it’s marketing, sales, accounting or any other area of the business - there are tonnes of different solutions available to take the manual work out of processes. The sceptics are saying this is but a trend and very soon the business world will find a new concept to obsess over. But we disagree.

We live in the era of data overload, and how we process and put it to use is responsible for our further growth. Truth is, no human is physically capable to analyse heaps of data in a quick, accurate and efficient manner - but the machines are. This is why automated workplaces are the future and in this article, we will guide you towards starting to build one. 

Reasons to Automate

The most commonly spoken of benefits of automation are time preservation and minimisation of human error that occurs during manual processes. However, the creation of a highly automated workplace carries more benefits than that.

When processes are handed over to technology, they aren’t just executed but also recorded. This means that you get to analyse the insights collected, often visualised on a dashboard, and spot potential gaps in your strategy as well as opportunities to optimise the processes moving forward. While saving time and reducing mistakes within the process are undeniable pros, the ability to keep on improving and scaling is what makes process automation truly powerful.

Getting Ready for Digital Transformation

As popular as the concept of digital transformation is, not every business is ready to embrace it. Lack of readiness leads to failed projects, wasted budgets and major setbacks in trying again. This is why we’ve put together three major steps for assessing your readiness for digitalisation. 

Process Audit

Prior to deciding you need the change, you need to understand why you need it. When accessing the effectiveness of the existing processes you should address the historical data of an individual process. It should be collected over an extended period of time. Then, compare it against the overall business metrics. It will paint a clear picture of how much the said process contributes towards the success of your organisation and thus signal whether the change is needed.

Despite the popular saying implying you shouldn’t try fixing what isn’t broken, business processes shouldn’t be adhering to the rule. Even the most functional process could be optimised to drive more efficiency. And a broken process, frankly, shouldn’t even be part of your strategy. In other words, there’s always an opportunity to better the way your processes run; but as stated in the beginning you first need to outline why would you change the said process, why prioritise it over others and why would the change matter. And this takes us right into the next step of the assessment.

Outlining the Goals

Once you’ve identified the gaps or potential optimisation opportunities, it’s time to define what you’re trying to achieve. Goals will give you a sense of direction as well as gather a clearer understanding of how the transformed process contributes toward the overall success of your organisation. Remember that your goals should be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. If needed, break one big goal into a series of smaller ones.

This step is important as after having recognised an issue, you are now giving it a name and therefore getting on the path of finding a solution. Having a specific goal or series of goals will make it easier to come up with KPIs you’ll be tracking, an initial list of potential solutions, and will aid you in narrowing it down further than the road. 

Choosing Correct Tools

Automation is driven by digital tools, and the market for them is booming with diversity. Once you have an approximate list of solutions that will help you achieve your main goal, it’s time to take into consideration other factors. Such would be:

  • Can the solution be used for other purposes than the main one?
  • Does this tool integrate with other software you use?
  • How many people will be using the tool?
  • What additional functionality is needed for your business to run smoothly?
  • Is it within your price range?
  • Will you be utilising all features the software offers or only a few?
  • Can you try it before you commit to it?

The right tool should easily blend into your strategy instead of making you adjust the way your business operates in order to use the software. Additionally, the use of the tool should stretch past the focus of the primary goal. For example, if you’re adopting Timesheet Portal, you won’t only be given a tool for filling up digital timesheets. You will be also getting centralised document storage, invoice automation, customisable reports, a holiday management system, an e-signing platform and many other perks different parts of your company can utilise.

What Processes to Automate First?

Returning to the point we’ve brought up within the opening paragraphs - every process can be either fully or partially automated. However, businesses are built on processes and therefore you may struggle on what should your starting point be. This section will present you few good places to begin at. 

Client Invoicing

Regardless of the nature of the business, client invoicing is a manually tasking process. It is a repetitive, time-consuming (yet often time-sensitive too) and error-prone process. The said errors carry a lot of weight too, from financial damages to dents in trust with the client. Moreover, it’s not a one-off process either. It is, in fact, one of the core business processes that is repeated frequently, be it on a pre-set or a sporadic schedule. With all these factors taken into account, it becomes evident that client invoicing automation should be high up if not on the top of the priority list.

One of the most efficient ways of automating client invoicing would be the adoption of a timesheet solution. A powerful platform like ours will allow you to customise the process to your specific requirements and will then take care of generating and distributing the invoices based on the data collected. This will free up a big chunk of your time, minimise the threat of an error and keep all parties involved happy. To you, it will also mean lesser delays in invoice clearance. As a cherry on top, our software is also inclusive of an option to keep your company’s branding consistent across any piece of documentation generated.

Expenses Management

A lot of business revenue is lost to the flawed process of expenses management. In fact, we’ve covered this topic in great detail before as well as explained why automation is the way of preserving financial losses. To give you a brief summary, the common culprits are either lack of clarity surrounding the process with far too many hoops to jump through for the staff to follow through.

Without being repetitive, let us emphasise the fact that optimisation of expense submission and approval process will prevent your business from losing literal millions every year. Creating automation-driven workflows with minor involvement of a human will smoothen the process, make it easy to follow and certainly speed it up. Lack of efficiency in this area is a massive drain of the company’s resources, thus prioritising automation of how the expenses are handled is in your best interest.

Employee Onboarding

At the first glance, integration of the new hires into your business may not seem like a process that can be automated at all. However, not only can it be streamlined using digital solutions but it should be among the first to undergo this change. The result of how smooth the employee onboarding is carried a lot of weight in terms of long-term business success and should therefore be among the first ones to be optimised. To cut a long explanation short, let’s just say that there is a whole more than legal documentation needed to bring your new starters up to speed and to set them up for success within your organisation.

Different businesses will tailor their onboarding processes based on factors such as company size, values, technical requirements and many more. We have looked into some in our previous article, so if you need more closure on the topic, we suggest you give it a read. However, one thing remains true no matter the individual specifications - automation is inseparable from optimisation of the onboarding processes.

Expand Your Reach Through Integrations

Once you’ve acknowledged the difference automation brings, you may find yourself in a bit of a digital transformation frenzy - wanting to get your hands on as many tools as you can to better your processes only further. Now hold your horses before making any rash decisions. Adopting too many solutions that don’t communicate with one another will have the opposite effect on improving your productivity. Instead of streamlining the processes and winning back the time, you will be losing it by switching between the apps and having to transfer data from one to another manually.

To avoid this seeks tools that integrate with the software you already use. This will link your solutions to one another, expanding your automation reach instead of stumping it. Integrations of different platforms will also bring you more in-depth data you would otherwise have no access to, which will, in turn, point out further opportunities for process optimisation through automation.

Key Takeaway 

Automation is not the new ‘shiny’ object companies obsess over; it’s not a fad that will pass in a couple of years' time. It is the future that is being shaped right in front of our eyes. The competitiveness between businesses in every niche is growing and so the race in pursuit of better efficiency and quality is becoming increasingly more heated up. Automation is the only way companies stand a chance.

About every aspect of the business can be automated and optimised in many different ways. What processes you address and how you implement the automation is completely up to you and the goals you seek to achieve. One fact remains true - automation is here to stay and companies that adopt it early are giving themselves a headstart to the future.

Are you ready to begin automating? Begin with Timesheet Portal.

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