How Small Businesses Use Automation in Productivity Apps

By katie simpson on March 12, 2014

If you search the web on productivity, you’ll find a million pieces of advice on becoming more productive at work. On top of that, there are dozens of productivity app lists full of great apps that could help your business. If you’re still filling out forms on paper, you’re missing a crucial opportunity to achieve real time and money savings.

Many of these apps might help you with your calendar or note-taking, but they miss a crucial step for true productivity: automation. Studies show that the optimal work week is 40 hours. Any more work, and productivity goes down, not up. To truly stay productive, it’s not only about doing more, but learning how to do less.  

Achieving optimal productivity is about as easy as winning limbo. Photo credit: subcircle via photopin cc 

Businesses with the best productivity apps understand where their time is truly being waste and automate work. By switching to smart productivity apps, they free time for more creative and critical thinking tasks. Here’s how some use automation in productivity apps. 

Prepopulated Apps for Field Workers

If you have a mobile workforce, doing inspections, invoices, checklists or work orders, filling out forms can take time away from tasks such as inspections, repairs, or consultations with customers. But the problem,can simply be in communicating assignments. The address or job details can be misheard on the phone. Text messages and emails are alternatives, but easy to lose or never see at all. All of these cause issues that take time away from your work in both office and field. 

These communication issues and time spent on forms can be fixed with a light dispatch service available in some mobile productivity apps. With these, field workers receive pre-populated submissions. It can carry information such as the site address, the customer’s name, and even any specific issues the field worker needs to look at. Every dispatch sends a notification to the worker’s phone, announcing that they have a new dispatch. At the same time, the office can see when a worker has received, opened, and finished a dispatch sent. 

More than communication, pre-populated apps also help the field workers finish their job more quickly. They don’t have to spend time filling out some of the basic information beforehand such as customer’s name or address: it’s been done for them.

One pest control company found that they saved both time and money after switching to a light dispatch service. Before the remote employees would have to drive back and forth to the office for a job. With a mobile productivity app, they receive all their work as dispatch notifications. The company today spends less on gas and gets more jobs done each day. 

Get Rid of Data Entry

Let go of the old and embrace productivity and real savings. Photo credit: subcircle via photopin cc

Not only do forms take time to fill out, they also require additional data entry. Thus a business could wait hours, maybe days before an inspection or a work order would come back to the office. Only then would it be entered into the database and be available for further use, such as invoicing. The need for redundant data entry requires additional man power, slows down sales cycle, or additional follow up work. 

Moving to a mobile app  can remove the need for data entry entirely, a huge boost in productivity. Every submission is automatically sent to the cloud. There, businesses can access the information, or download it as an xml or csv file for easy integration. 

Automation can be taken even further with productivity apps. API webservices allow mobile apps to be integrated with business software such as Quickbooks or Salesforce. Thus, companies can integrate data from the field seamlessly into their own databases. These mobile apps s give businesses real time information and more time and energy to spend on other activities. One Australian plumbing company who switched was able to save nearly $40,000 because they no longer needed data entry. 

Businesses that become the most efficient and streamlined organizations take a look at their operations. What are they doing today? Can that be improved? Finding the productivity apps that align with those needs will show real returns.