Low Cost / High Return Automation

Whilst a lot of our business focusses on larger business workflow automation systems, a couple of recent projects we delivered highlight the huge benefits that SMEs can reap from smaller automation projects. Both focused on taking a cumbersome, manual task and creating an automation system which greatly reduced its draw on the company’s resources.

One of these involved a company who takes orders from its clients, moves them through a multi-stage manufacturing flow before delivering the final items. As part of this, the clients needed to know where each order was in the process, so that they could keep their own customers appraised and schedule follow-on actions. 

Prior to implementing our solution, this required a lot of staff time in sending emails, making phone calls, and responding to enquiries. All of which was a large drain on the company’s resources and meant their clients were getting the information they required in a piecemeal fashion, which they would then have to manually translate into their internal CRM systems.

As many of our customer’s clients used HubSpot to manage their customers, we were approached to build an integration between the ClickUp system our customer was using to manage their production process and their client’s HubSpot accounts.

The result was a solution where, as part of the order process, the HubSpot id of the end customer was also entered into the ClickUp system.
This allowed our solution to monitor the progress of the order through ClickUp and seamlessly update the relevant HubSpot contact in real time with the status or their order, along with other pertinent information if certain details of the order were changed.

The benefits of this, relatively simple, solution was manifold:

  • It reduced the need for manual intervention by our customer’s staff to almost nothing.
  • It provided their clients with access to real-time information without the need for any manual intervention by their staff. The relevant information was always going to be in HubSpot, so was readily available whenever they needed to interact with their customers.
  • Our solution also provided an easy-to-use dashboard which provided an overview of the process, along with audit trails and automated error monitoring.

The result of this solution was more available staff resource on both sides of the equation which could now be used for more profitable endeavours and an overall increase in customer satisfaction all round.

It all comes down to the bottom line…

As ever, despite the evident benefits listed above, it all comes down to the bottom line and this is where a lot of companies fail to realise how even a small, low-cost automation can make them significant savings over a relatively short time. 

Taking something like the example above. Assuming that the task of providing order updates to clients and responding to their enquires was being handled by a single member of staff. Not with any particular skills or specialities, so earning an average salary of around 26K per annum. This resolves to an actual cost to the company for employing this person of around £22.00 per hour. If, over the course of a working week, this person spent roughly 2 hours per day performing this task. That equates to a cost to the company of a little over £10,000 per annum.

The cost of delivering our solution was less than this, so, even factoring in a little time each week for this person to manage the system, coupled with a small monthly hosting and support cost, the break-even point is reached in less than a year. 

But even this, doesn’t account for the time recovered where the member of staff can be involved in other, potentially profit-increasing tasks. Adding the benefits of having happier, better serviced clients who are far more likely to remain clients as they’re getting great service from you, then the break-even point in real terms is probably achieved far sooner!

A final thought about alternatives

You might read this and think “this is great. Surely I can achieve the same by using an off-the-shelf integration solution like Zapier?”.

For a very simple, low-volume integration, then yes, possibly Zapier is a viable alternative. 

However, Zapier charges using a “per task” model. A task is an interaction with another system, or running a filter or incrementing a counter to accrue statistics. For anything other than a simple one-to-one integration these soon mount up and, as (for instance in the above solution) you start adding more clients or doing more business with these clients, then the cost escalates quickly. 

Looking at our solution in operation and estimating the number of Zapier task steps that would be required to implement something similar with just two to three clients, the annual cost of a Zapier solution would have been in order of £4-5K per year, every year. This also doesn’t take into consideration the cost to build the integration, either in your own time or bringing in a third-party to write it for you and then the ongoing cost of maintaining it. 

Adding two or three more clients to the integration would roughly double the cost. Once again, it’s worth bearing in mind that this is an annual ongoing cost, whereas the solutions we provide generally only have a small annual cost component, so once you’ve recovered the initial investment, the annual running cost is minimal compared to the benefits you receive.

In conclusion

We’re sure that every business could identify elements of their day-to-day business workflows that could benefit from an automation solution that helped them deliver a better customer experience, but hopefully, this example helps show that this could also make a significant difference to the bottom line. 

If you think this could be you, then please get in touch for a no-obligation chat and let us help you make that difference.

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