In the age of start-ups and entrepreneurial spirit abounding, businesses have a lot to consider regarding future success. Undoubtedly, one of the most important of these considerations is scalability. Does your business have what it takes to support all the growth that you’re inevitably hoping and planning for?

What Makes a Business Scalable?

As you know, there’s more than just one component that affects your ability to scale as you grow. You’ll likely be considering demand, costs, and internal structure and processes.

In addition, you need to thoughtfully consider business process automation.

Why Automate?

Business process automation involves a strategic approach for operating your business which includes applications and software to automate processes.

Time and other valuable resources of the enterprise are significantly lost when automation strategies are completely kept aloof. When effective automation strategies are implemented, the return is significant. In fact, an average of 78% of business process management projects produced an internal rate of return of over 15%, with many reaching as high as 360%.

A large number of well-known and reputed organizations were benefited from the use of automation by saving money and increasing productivity. For example, R.J. Reynolds reduced their invoice processing costs by 53%, decreased clerical staffing costs by 25%, and increased volume by 15% through the automation of their accounts payable function.

Frito Lay automated their purchasing processes and ended up saving between 30,000 to 50,000 hours per year and reduced number of distribution centers by 10%. Additionally, through the adoption of a web-based CRM, Cisco Systems reduced customer phone calls by 75,000 per month and saved over $270 million in operating expenses.

Where to Begin with

Considering the tremendous impact and return of automating business processes, ask yourself how your business stacks up. Do you already have a great system in place, ready to take on the years (and growth) to come? Or do you need to reevaluate and find some better ways to automate?

There are endless automation tools out there, but most of them can be categorized in one of a few areas.

Business Process Automation

Email and Marketing Automation Tools

Through the use of automatic email and marketing, businesses are not only able to reach targeted consumers directly through email or social media, but also tap into useful statistics, feedback, tracking, and reporting. Most email marketing tools offer customized solutions to match the needs of your business. For example, ActiveCampaign, one of the more affordable options, offers a very easy-to-use solution for small to medium sized organizations. It also includes its own CRM system to help manage and convert leads. MailChimp and GetResponse both include intuitive and simple campaign builders or email templates, making them simple to navigate, even for beginners.

Solutions also exist for more extensive marketing automation, such as Marketo, Eloqua, and Constant Contact.

Customer Relationship Management Tools

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions involve a broad range of applications and software created to help businesses manage customer interaction, data, and business information, as well as automate sales and marketing processes. Similar to specific marketing automation tools, CRM software can often customize its offerings to meet the specific needs of your business. The most popular CRM tools in 2016 include FreshSales, Pipedrive, and Insightly, although there are a plethora of options to choose from depending on your needs.

Accounting Process Automation

Through the use of Accounting Process Automation tools, businesses can impact workflow and productivity in areas such as accounts receivable/payable, purchasing, financial reporting, and expense management. There are various ways to automate specific processes, with one of the most popular avenues being cloud-based accounting systems. Online accounting systems, such as BillQuick, Intacct, and Netsuite all offer ways to access cloud-based services from anywhere at any time, making them easy to manage from virtually anywhere.

Again, there are countless options to select from, and you’ll want to consider the size of your accounting department and company as a whole to determine the most efficient resource. Armed with some knowledge about the importance of automation in today’s business processes, as well as some ideas of where to start, you should be able to discern what areas of your business you can start automating – and start reaping the benefits.