Why document automation technology is key to a successful virtual business By Sergio Esteve de Miguel Thanks to the advancement of technology, the rising costs of commercial property and changing consumer shopping trends, the online business sector is bigger and more accessible than ever. Luckily for virtual entrepreneurs, the internet is growing and diversifying every
Why document automation technology is key to a successful virtual business
By Sergio Esteve de Miguel
Thanks to the advancement of technology, the rising costs of commercial property and changing consumer shopping trends, the online business sector is bigger and more accessible than ever. Luckily for virtual entrepreneurs, the internet is growing and diversifying every single year, with 4.2 billion browsers and counting.
These users have access to a staggering 1.7 billion websites, of which two to three million sites are thought to be e-commerce. That’s a vast amount of competition! No wonder then, that numerous sources, including Forbes, have proved that 90% of online startups fail within their first 120 days.
Such alarming stats show that online businesses are failing to use technology to their advantage. Yet document automation is enabling modern entrepreneurs to step away from what was once a long, manual slog, simplifying the complex nature of inevitable admin duties and leaving more time and energy for brand development, customer service and marketing – essential areas for business growth.
An insight into document automation for online businesses
When we talk about automating documents, we refer to everything from contracts to invoices, data and project proposals. Each plays a role in the success of a business and can be digitized thanks to dedicated software.
With poor or error-riddled documentation comes additional expenditure, elongated staff time and below par customer service. Document automation tools allow you to keep concise and up-to-date paperwork, securing your reputation and making your admin processes far more efficient. When it comes to virtual business success, automation is proving key.
Automating sales and data
Digital CRM tools offer both sales and data facilities to help you to keep clean lists, generate instant reports, control communications and bridge the gap between company and client. Some CRM-based automation tools can also assist with lead engagement and retention.
- Ontraport is an all-in-one platform where you can attract new leads, build lists, recapture cart abandoners and communicate effectively with your virtual customer;
- Salesforce is a well-known CRM system helping businesses increase sales, reach more customers and improve turn-around times;
- Keap allows you to create a repeatable sales process, automatically following-up on leads to ensure you’re responding to clients immediately and effectively
Project management automation
Some of the most innovative document automation tools are dedicated to project management, allowing you to be more organised, strategic and analytical. Such software can enable teams to witness live results, edit files, track progress and review stats on one communal platform. With this, you can define goals, assess risk, understand areas for improvement and overcome growth obstacles.
- Microsoft Project helps you execute tasks with ease, thanks to its templates, scheduling tools, resources and portfolio management;
- Huddle is cloud-based collaboration software, allowing you to manage tasks, projects and documents in its secure client portal;
- DealRoom allows you to secure files, ease communication and assign tasks, as well as simplifying complex due diligence processes
Business finance, invoices and payroll can be an overwhelming and confusing task, but document automation tools can simplify and organise your accounts, allowing you to better manage your outgoings. Finance automation encourages cost-cutting, highlights where money is being made and lost, and reduces human error.
- FreshBooks allows you to manage all your invoices and accounts in one place;
- Sage enables finance management, incites compliance and reduces admin;
- Xero is an online tool offering an insightful, real-time view on cash flow
Automation for lawyers
A 2016 study by MetaJurey showed that attorneys create and receive over 70 documents a day – that’s 26,000 per year! Yet the legal tech sector is here to help, by speeding up complex and mundane tasks, simplifying workloads, managing and analysing cases, offering research strategies and reducing expenditure.
- Bigle Legal enables you to create professional, error-free legal documents and contracts, 20 times faster;
- SimpleLegal automates the management and analysis of contracts, teams and finances in real time;
- Legal Robot uses machine learning to understand contracts for instant analysis
Many businesses fail due to poor online performance and a lack of search engine visibility. A survey by Marketingsignals.com found that 37% of online business owners said their failure was down to their inability to deliver online marketing, while 35% put their failure down to a lack of online visibility. Yet automation tools are available to enable better results, helping you create targeted content for the right audience, compete with rivals, analyse responses, improve SEO and build a stronger brand.
- Marketo drives measurable results, with lead management, consumer marketing and brand building;
- SE Ranking helps automate SEO tasks such as backlink monitoring, keyword research, rankings and competitor strategies;
- MeetEdgar offers social media scheduling and post automation, sending content on rotation all by itself
Connect and support your remote workforce
If you employee remote workers, then having an online repository of document templates and resources will be a highly valuable tool, leading to brand and process consistency, staff productivity and reduced expenditure. Automation tools are there to aid remote teams, enabling easy collaboration and stronger accountability, thanks to live synchronization and tracking.
- Slack enables secure online collaboration across teams, departments, offices and countries;
- Basecamp is a team communication tool, aimed at improving accountability, delegation and collaborative working;
- Dropbox is a file host that allows you to build a remote office anywhere, thanks to cloud storage and instant file synchronization
How automation can benefit virtual businesses
It is estimated that by 2040, 95% of all purchases will be done through eCommerce, which proves how fast the online business sector is growing. Yet this growth doesn’t necessarily lead to virtual business success. In order to compete with online rivals, your brand must stand out. Providing exceptional customer service and building a strong team of employees is the key to winning loyalty and growing your brand.
In fact, the Marketingsignals.com survey found that 16% of online startups felt their business collapsed due to poor customer service, whilst 14% felt that substandard staff were responsible. To secure and retain customers as well as employees, online business owners must thoroughly understand their audience and ease workloads – document automation can help with both.
Automation tools allow you to create profiles in order to measure and monitor behavior across your business. This is incredibly important, since it can cost six times as much to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one, according to Neosperience. Document automation for marketing and management can also help your products or services get in front of the right people and improve the journey between purchase and execution.
Document automation can also help employees perform their jobs better. By removing the manual element of essential admin, your team will be free to work on the aspects of their job they actually enjoy, making them more productive, improving efficiency and morale across your company and leading to improved staff retention rates.
It can also enable workers to complete admin in a more accurate way, reducing errors, eliminating friction points and reducing costs. By going digital, your team will be free to dedicate more time to the customer experience and focus on key company competencies that will help you improve your brand.
Your online business is likely to employee remote workers and luckily for you, a CoSo Cloud survey found that 77% of remote workers reported greater productivity. By offering your digital team the technology they need to carry out their roles in a straight forward, innovative and collaborative manner, morale, loyalty and happiness levels are boosted. There are plenty of ways to make remote workers successful, but there are also added benefits for you.
Hiring remote staff will allow you access to diversity and a larger talent tool, without the constraints associated with traditional 9-to-5 working hours. It can also save a lot of money! Cloud-based collaboration tools assist remote teams by providing each worker with the same digital files, with live syncing, real-time updates and instant notifications, speeding up admin processes and follow-up times. It also encourages flexibility and productivity, as well as tracking movements and changes for accurate accountability and improved data security compliance.
When it comes to the virtual business market, competition and customer expectations are exceptionally high. Yet document automation is facilitating change and promoting entrepreneurs to rethink the way they run their businesses. As well as freeing up your schedule for more important matters, going digital with your processes can help you to entice more web clicks and conversions, helping you improve your customer service levels and delivery times.
Beyond that, document automation for online businesses can also encourage better working conditions for employees, minimising human error, boosting team morale and encouraging loyalty that will lead to brand strength. With digital improvements in place, you’ll be able to focus on the growth of your business, the management of your finances and the overall reputation of your all-important virtual brand.
Bio Sergio Esteve de Miguel
Sergio is the CFO and the co-founder of Bigle Legal, an innovative legaltech startup from Barcelona. Together with his brother, he wanted to combine their expertise in business and technology to transform the legal industry. Sergio believes that technology can change the way legal professionals approach their jobs and make their work life much more enjoyable and productive.
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