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How to get to your first automated process

How to get to your first automated process
February 18, 2021

What you need to get started, how to choose what to automate and where to go for help. 

Automation. Is it the future of work? Or just a handy way to save a few hours each week?

At Luhhu, we believe that automation can empower entrepreneurs to do more in less time and to cut costs for their companies. It’s a rewarding and seemingly never ending journey — but the first steps are often the hardest. Maybe you feel the same?

In this post, we'll explain everything you need to know about automation (for work and leisure), so if you're new to the world of automation, then stick with us.

Zapier vs. Integromat: the industry leaders

Zapier and Integromat are the two main automation platforms you’re likely to encounter.

They both connect with thousands of other apps and even offer some of their own. By connecting these apps and sequencing them with actions and data, you can quickly create your own automations. 

Zapier is by far the most popular platform around. So if you don't know what you want, you probably want Zapier. It's mostly free, connects to virtually everything and has tons of flexibility. 

Integromat is better suited to those who want as many features as possible — even if it means sacrificing some robustness. Integromat has fewer connected apps and doesn't have 24/7 customer service.

Zapier and Integromat alternatives

Zapier and Integromat may be the most popular automation platforms out there, but they’re not the only ones. There are plenty of Integromat and Zapier alternatives to choose from. Here are some of our favourites:

IFTTT

If This Then That is probably the most accessible automation platform for beginners. It's mostly used by individuals for simple use cases, though it also has enough functionality for businesses with simple needs. 

If you're not looking to get too deep into automation and just want a quick solution, IFTTT is a great free choice. 

Click here to learn more.

Parabola.io

Parabola.io has a similar drag-and-drop interface to Integromat, but devotes a lot more attention to datasets. This makes it an ideal solution for businesses and individuals who need to collect and use data in their automations frequently. 

Read more about Parabola.io right here.

Built-in automations

Built-in automations are worth a mention too. Many widely-used apps are beginning to offer their own automated features — Slack and Airtable included. While these are much simpler than fully-fledged automation platforms, they might be all you need. And using them will save you time and money if you're already using the core platform.

How to choose the right automation platform for you

Anytime you're trying to decide between different versions of the same tool, you want to carefully consider how you're going to be using that tool. This also applies to picking an automation platform that's right for you. 

You'll want to consider factors such as:

  • Are you trying to create automations that react to certain events (e.g. receiving an email) or that work on a schedule (e.g. activate every Monday)?

  • Do you already have a ton of apps and can’t afford to stop using them, or are you open to trying different platforms?

  • How much are you willing to pay vs. how much are you willing to learn?

  • Do you want more features or better ease-of-use?

Every automation platform can probably do what you need it to do. However, it's the above factors that are going to separate one platform for the next. Answer these questions for yourself, then see how different platforms meet those needs.

How to decide what to automate

Once you've got your desired automation tool in hand, it's time to decide what to automate. You might be caught off guard here — it can be surprisingly difficult to know where to get started!

As often happens in creative pursuits, you can suddenly feel as if you're out of ideas before you’ve even got going. Here's how to come up with more Zapier ideas and automation ideas in general. 

Finding a problem to solve

Every great automation project begins with a problem you want to solve. So start looking for (fixable!) problems in your day-to-day life.

This can be tricky at first, as you might not think of everyday problems as 'automation problems'. Clearing your inbox each morning isn’t normally an issue, but it could be done more efficiently. And that’s where automation comes in. 

To spot problems you can solve with automation, look for the following:

  • Tasks that you find boring, frustrating or repetitive
  • Tasks that have to be done at a certain time
  • Events that require your attention shortly after they happen
  • Areas of your life or work where you wish you spent less money

Once you find a few automation challenges in your life, more and more will start presenting themselves. 

Embrace automation inspiration

It's important to start seeking out and embracing automation inspiration too. If you haven't discovered it yet, there are entire communities and resources dedicated to providing you with automation ideas to try.

That said, this can quickly give you the opposite problem — having so many things you want to automate that you have no idea where to begin. Our top tip? Start curating a list of all your various pieces of automation inspiration. 

After you've scoured communities and blogs (such as ours) for inspiration and collected the results in one centralised location, you can rank them based on priority and usefulness. From there you can start implementing them in your platform of choice. 

Determine your goals

Your goals will also reveal opportunities for automation. Whether you realise it or not, there was probably a specific reason you wanted to start automation — aside from, "It sounded cool." 

Here are some of the most common reasons people decide to start automating:

  • To reduce time spent on menial work
  • To save money by using fewer services or making fewer mistakes
  • To reduce manpower in lean operations
  • To improve efficiency in a specific area

If you have any of the above goals but aren't sure how to achieve them with automation, look for the underlying problems creating these goals. Do you have too much work on your plate? Are you spending money on something you wish you weren't? How can you use automation to change that?

Drawing out a workflow before you create it

Drawing out your workflow is an often overlooked stage in the automation process. If you're new to automation, this can be a huge help in softening the learning curve. It's helpful for advanced users as well, when experimenting with more complex workflows. 

Miro is one of our favourite tools for drawing and planning out your automation workflows — so check it out!

Should you build automation workflows in-house or bring in an expert?

Another decision you'll want to make when automating is whether or not you want to do it yourself. For the tech-savvy, automation 101 probably isn't too difficult an undertaking. But even the fastest of learners will start to struggle with more complex automations. 

At some point, it might make sense to hire an automation expert. Automation experts (like us) can save you even more time and money than automation itself. Not only will you get expert help, but you'll learn a lot too. 

Here’s some extra advice, to help you make your decision.

Where can you get help for Zapier, Integromat, and all things automation?

Finally, our last piece of advice is to seek out help whenever you need it. The internet is filled with helpful communities and services that will guide you along your journey, whether that means doing it yourself, following Zapier and Integromat tutorials, or bringing in an expert.

For all of these things and more, you can browse our website to sharpen your automation skills in no time at all.


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