Business automation tools are the future of successful organizations. They assist you in working faster and better by using technology to streamline and automate your workflow. If you are a start-up that does not want to hire extra staff or wish to save time on task-automation, it is an avenue to explore. Even large organizations are now converting to digital automation to minimize costs and delays. Besides improving productivity, such tools give structure to organizational management. Saving a minute here and there can help you stay focused on the task at hand.
For instance, you may face delays in sending marketing emails or manually calculating salaries for your employees. With the help of business process automation tools, you can integrate workflows and processes between apps. They ease information flow from one app to another. There are several business automation tools, but here are a few of my favorites:
1- Zapier A user-friendly option that integrates all apps within minutes and saves hours of work for you. For example, if you use Facebook ads to generate leads for your product and Gmail to send marketing emails to those leads. Zapier auto tracks Facebook's lead generation, connects it to Gmail, and automatically sends emails. This will save time spent on manual data entry for lead generation as well as going through lists. It has 'zaps' that are the trigger for a task. You enter the zaps that you need to be automated and let Zapier activate the convenient app to act.
Zapier’s main strength is the fact that it is one of the most straightforward BPA tools out there which permits many apps to be integrated. Yet, some people think that it is expensive when there are some open-source and free alternatives available. Additionally, Zapier’s main weakness is that it does not provide multi-step workflow processes. In conclusion, Zapier is the most popular option amongst users as it has an excellent customer support and marketing features. It is flexible and straightforward, with a range of payment options.
Pricing: Starts from free up to $599 with free trials for every package.
2- Automate.io It is a cloud-based business automation tool similar to Zapier, but it claims to offer '3 times the value'. Its features are identical to Zapier’s, but it offers more 'tasks' within its packages, including the free one. Automate has multi-step workflow options in its free version and, of course, in the paid options.
Automate is a popular option as it is user-friendly, easy to set-up, and provides multi-step workflow processes. But, one of Automate's most common flaws is that its limitedness in the integration department as it does not support Microsoft Office along other essential integrations. Compared to Zapier and a few other BPA tools, Automate provides more 'free tasks'. It also has five flexible payment plans to choose from.
Pricing: It is reasonable for start-ups and small businesses that don't need too many automated tasks, starting from a free package up to $99 for small companies. The price goes up to $399 for premium users.
3- Azure Logic Apps & Microsoft Flow As a cloud computing service by Microsoft, Azure is user-friendly and flexible. It presents basic free units per month, and beyond that, you should pay to you use it. It is especially useful for software development projects as it allows hybrid cloud management.
On the other hand, Microsoft flow is a tool that automates and configures your tasks for you. It assists in streamlining daily tasks and saving time.
One of the most significant advantages of both tools is that they allow limitless automated workflows. Not just that, but it has an easy to use interface. However, Microsoft Flow has a disadvantage: it does not provide as many apps integration as users would like, causing a delay in many workflows. It is essential to check if the required apps are supported by it or not. Again, compared to Zapier or Automate, it offers less app integration; but, price-wise, it’s more affordable.
Pricing: Microsoft Flow starts from $15 a month in which you can create unlimited flows and has two more plans available.
4- IFTTT IFTTT is a useful free automation tool that enables you to connect and integrate your apps and communicate with each other. Yet, customizing the workflow can be time-consuming and often complicated with this particular tool. If the applet you need is not available within its data pool, it isn't easy to work with it. As of 2020, IFTTT has launched its Pro version, which has a limited promotional period, after which the user can choose from three different plans.
Users love tools with limitless integrations and actions,which IFTTT offers in the form of unlimited 'zaps' or triggers. An interesting feature is that it allows you to connect your household appliances with it and automate those tasks. The downside of IFTTT is that it does not support a multi-step workflow or provide premium level support for a sophisticated integration. So, while Zapier allows you to make an applet that is not available, that is not possible with IFTTT.
Pricing: The individual plans are free, whereas business plans start from $199 a year and up.
5- Huginn Huginn is an online open-source automation tool that is free and is in competition with Zapier and IFTTT. It is a system for building agents that can automate your tasks and perform them by searching the Internet—commonly used for basic web-based tasks like tracking changes in a website, updating the weather, or voting highlights in an election.
Huginn is reasonably popular because it is free and open-source. Some users find it safer as it does not require passwords and cookies to function. However, many users find it challenging to build the agents and don't see the interface as friendly as the other options.
While one can write customized codes to conduct routine tasks, Huginn is not as good at complex logic and actions. It is limited in terms of systems syncing and integration.
It's essential to keep in mind that Huginn's primary use is not to create complicated automation, it is a tool that is mainly utilized to automatically filter the web for useful information. If you are browsing through a website a few times a day, you can build an agent to do that on Huginn. Then, you can automate it to send you an alert or an email when it finds what you are browsing for. For example, if you want alerts on traffic jams or want to find out about discounts on Amazon -Huginn can do that for you.
To summarize, there are many other business automation tools out there with different pricing ranges and features that make them more suitable for you. Regardless of which tool you choose, it is essential to embrace automation tools as they are the future of productive and successful teams. Organizations that work with automated and agile frameworks have a greater chance to succeed as they let technology do mundane tasks, thus saving time and promoting productivity.
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