5 pieces of advice to thoughtfully implement automation for your team

If you ask Raúl Garreta, the CEO and founder of MonkeyLearn, the best productivity tool you can give your team is automation.

Garreta has dedicated the last 15 years to advancing workplace automation through machine learning. Now at MonkeyLearn, he’s making machine learning more accessible — so that automating a process is as easy as updating a spreadsheet or sending an email.

“Machine learning is powerful but complex,” Garreta said. “If we make it dead simple, it has the potential to disrupt multiple areas, including how we work.”

We chatted with Garreta to learn his advice for strategically implementing automation to help your team do better work.

“The ultimate productivity hack is to have machines work for you.”

1. Know when it’s time to automate processes

It’s hard to tell when is the right time to automate a process for your team. How much time would it really save? Will it be worth implementing, and will it stick for the long run? Will it be worth the investment of time and money?

Garreta says there are three ways he knows it’s time to automate a process:

  1. When you feel you are doing the same boring repetitive task over and over
  2. When every step of the process already involves software in some way
  3. When you need highly consistent criteria and results

“That's when you can validate that the process is mature enough to invest in and lives in a digital environment that’s well-suited for automation,” Garreta said.

2. Pinpoint areas where automation will make the biggest impact

Sometimes speed makes all the difference, and Garreta said it’s important to identify these moments for your business. For example, when a customer sends you feedback, if you reply almost instantly, you’re much more likely to engage them and continue the conversation. Or, if you qualify leads in real time, you can notify the appropriate team to jump into the conversation while the lead is online.

"The instant response dramatically increases the outcome.”

Garreta noted another way automation can impact our workflows is not just on saving time or doing things faster, but by doing things with consistency.

"Machines will do processes in a consistent and predictable way," he said. "That means you will obtain consistent and predictable results, which is the holy grail for many businesses. For example, when qualifying your leads, routing your support tickets or categorizing your customer feedback, consistency in the criteria is key. By automating those processes, you will enforce consistent criteria independently on how your teams change or grow."

3. Deliberately decide where automation doesn’t belong

Before implementing automation, you need to identify the processes you’re not automating. Certain situations, especially when it involves conversations with customers, should stay human to human — and this is up to you and your business to decide.

“Machine learning can assist humans to make them more productive, but it cannot replace a real human response,” Garreta said.

4. Choose automation tools that integrate with other software

If you’re going to need to rip and replace your entire tech stack to implement automation for a process, there’s probably a better way. When you’re building your tech stack, choose automation tools that easily integrate with other productivity software your team uses.

“We're productivity tool junkies,” Garreta said. “We use Front for collaborative email, MonkeyLearn for data processing, Zapier to connect apps and automate workflows, Asana to manage our projects and tasks, Slack for internal chat conversations, Zoom for video conferencing, Segment to streamline data between apps. Recently I fell in love with Notion, a beautiful application to create and share internal knowledge and notes," he said. "They all integrate and play nicely with one another."

5. Reassure and energize your team

One of the biggest gripes with workplace automation is the fear that it will replace humans with robots and eliminate jobs. Garreta agrees that automation will transform the workplace dramatically, but he argues it’s a good thing in the long run.

“We humans will be freed up. Costs are lower with machines doing some of the work, and as a result, humans won't have to work the same amount of time that we work nowadays,” Garreta explained.

“We will migrate to other kinds of jobs that are creative and strategic, jobs that require thoughtful decision making and empathy.”

Embrace automation to empower your team

Automation frees up time and resources — and will force us to reinvent ourselves at work, Garreta said.

His final piece of advice? Start small. “Choose a simple process. As you automate more, the impact will start compounding.”

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