Many SaaS companies provide business process automation, but finding the right place for it internally is still is a challenge.
SaaS vendors aim to provide business owners with up-to-date tools that offer the latest business process management and business process automation trends. As businesses themselves, SaaS companies should ensure their own business operations are as efficient as possible.
Why use business process automation?
When a SaaS startup is being launched, all minds in the company are occupied by the development of the product features. When the product enters the growth stage, the idea of internal workflow optimization starts to attract more and more attention from management teams.
But before adopting business process optimization, a few questions must be answered. What methodology should the company follow? Where to start from and what to prioritize? How to distribute developers’ resources between the feature development and internal process optimization? The earlier the management team finds the answers to these questions, the more smoothly their startup will transform into a mature company.
Decide what to automate and when
Inspired by the business process management best practices, startups may strive to automate every aspect of their businesses. However, they may get overwhelmed by the number of areas that require automation. Almost every aspect of a newly launched business will have resource-intensive and time-sensitive tasks that involve multiple employees.
You should remember that implementing business process automation is a challenge in itself. By putting too much effort into it, you can slow down product development and lose the market to competitors.
As long as the number of paying customers is below 100, a startup can safely put 100% of developers’ effort into new features. However, the foundation for future business process optimization is laid at this very early stage. Start by collecting feedback from the employees working in your customer support, sales, and marketing departments and analyzing frequent customers' support requests.
In the beginning, marketing, sales, and support teams handle their tasks manually and establish their workflows. In the process, they face bottlenecks, discover opportunities for better efficiency, and address the development team whenever an automation solution is required.
In most cases, you’ll deal with adopting third-party business automation tools rather than developing your own custom solutions. Still, your development team’s task will be to bring different pieces of software together and make the integration work flawlessly, which still is not an easy task.
Another way to spot urgent opportunities for workflow automation is to analyze customer support requests. This is when the method of conversation tagging becomes very helpful. If every conversation with a customer is assigned a meaningful label, the SaaS business quickly gets statistics on the problems and tasks that generate the biggest workload for its employees.
CRM systems and messaging platforms make it easy to implement a system of labels to tag and analyze chats and calls and get actionable insights for your own business optimization. By automating workflows one-by-one, your SaaS company will gradually improve own business processes and achieve efficiency.
Business process automation case study: Poster
Well-rounded business process automation and played a role in the SaaS business management strategy of my restaurant POS, Poster, as it scaled. In this example, learn how Poster used subscription renewal automation software and app integrations to make the renewal process more efficient.
Simply by automating subscription renewal for just one category of customers we reduced the workload on customer support and accounting departments and saved them 327 hours per month.
Poster is a Ukrainian company, and local restaurant businesses make an important share of our customers. Among them, there are business entities registered as limited liability companies, meaning they prefer to handle their POS subscriptions as business expenses and pay for them from their business bank accounts.
To satisfy this customer group's requirements, Poster's subscription renewal procedure must comply with state business laws. We follow these four steps to ensure compliance: issue an invoice, accept payment, extend the subscription, and send an acceptance certificate to the customer.
Initially, we manually renewed subscriptions for the restaurant accounts that operated as limited liability companies. Every subscription renewal would involve three employees taking about 10 minutes of their time. The customers had to wait up to 24 hours to get their accounts extended and documents issued.
Manual subscription renewal workflow
- Customers called our support department and requested invoices.
- Support representatives checked customers’ payment details and created tasks for our accountants in a task management application.
- Twice a day, accountants checked the new task cards, issued invoices using accounting software, then added them to the corresponding cards in the task manager.
- Support representatives emailed invoices to customers.
- Customers cleared the invoices.
- Twice a day, customer support representatives checked all payments and manually extended accounts in our CRM.
- Accountants checked what accounts had been extended and issued acceptance certificates.
- Support representatives emailed the acceptance certificates to the customers.
The more customers we got, the bigger workload this manual workflow created for our accountants and support representatives. Seeing how many subscription-renewal conversations we were having with customers, we decided to automate this process and completely exclude our employees from the workflow. Read on to see how we automated it.
Automated subscription renewal workflow
- Customers provide their bank details by filling out a form on their admin panel.
- Invoices are generated automatically.
- Customers clear their invoices and get their subscriptions extended automatically within 15 minutes.
- Acceptance certificates are emailed automatically to the customers within 24 hours.
This is how the process looks from the customer perspective. To make the automation work, our developers wrote scripts that connected three pieces of software together: our CRM, accounting software, and business registration data monitoring software.
- Thanks to the API integration, customers don’t have to manually input their bank details in the admin panel. After they enter their company name, the rest of the fields in the form get filled out automatically with the correct info.
- A script in our accounting software continuously checks customers’ accounts to find which ones have subscriptions that expire within a month, then issues invoices and uploads them to Poster POS.
- Three days before the current subscription expires, customers receive an automatic email with a reminder and a copy of their invoice attached.
- Every 15 minutes, a special script checks the information about the payments received by Poster, then identifies and extends the corresponding accounts in Poster CRM.
- Every 15 minutes, another accounting script checks the accounts in which the subscription had been extended, generates the acceptance certificates and emails them to the customers.
Within half a year, we started receiving four times fewer customer requests concerning the subscription renewal. Now, 85% of our subscription renewals for limited liability companies are made automatically. Thanks to this, our employees got rid of a significant amount of repetitive tasks.
Automation is an advantage
If done properly, business process automation will help you eliminate manual, redundant, and time-consuming tasks within your company and replace them with automated processes that work faster and reduce operating costs. This will contribute to your competitive advantage as you’ll provide customers with more efficient services.