Automation, AI and API’s are as standard in the workplace as a spreadsheet. They work in the background, seemly filling gaps you did not even know were being created, but in our eyes, there is so much more potential in these systems that many businesses aren’t utilising. 

What are SME’s getting wrong? 

 According to PayScale, the average Administration Assistant salary in London is £22,548, including any bonus’. While these individuals can be highly valued working in positions that require 100% human capabilities, often there are tasks that can be completed with automated systems. 

Administration Assistants are not the issue here though, not the people filling the roles, but rather the business’ necessity for their role in the first place. It is a historic role with repetitive tasks that has not adapted to the modern business or office. 

While an admin oversight might not seem like it has a long-term impact on a business’ profitability, a recent report from Sage found that 5.6% of the total spend of the average SME is lost time to administration work. This roughly works out to be the full UK spend of £39.9 bn a year… what? That’s madness.   

What’s the solution? 

We want to introduce you to your newest team member, Application Processing Interface (API), but you can call them API. They are simple to set up, do not take annual leave, always stick to their job description and will work faster than any previous employee you have had before. A dream employee, right? 

All lightheartedness aside, what is an API? An API simply means an automated set of events that occur between two systems that are linked together. When the information in one system changes, the API will take that new information and input it into the other system automatically. Think of it like having two excel spreadsheets, and when you update a cell in one of them, even though they are separate spreadsheets, it will automatically update the second sheet with the new information.

Surprisingly, API’s exists all around you in everyday life. It’s what allows you to see the weather snippets if you search weather + [your location], it’s also what PayPal use to process a transaction on a site or allows you to log in to an application using your Facebook or Google accounts. 

Have a think about your daily tasks in your business, and ask yourself, are there responsibilities that are boring, tedious, repetitive, or just inputting data from one system to another? If the answer is yes, then these tasks can almost certainly be automated. 

Here at Lucidica, we utilise API’s in a very compact way. For example, we have introduced API’s to make our product order process more efficient not just for our engineers, but also for our customers, who in turn experience a more seamless transaction. Every time an engineer inputs a new product order into our CRM for a customer, the system will automatically communicate with our accounting software to generate the invoice. Once the invoice is paid by our customer, the bank tells the software that the transaction is complete. Our CRM then notifies our engineer to get the product shipped off immediately. Simple, clean and practical with no human administration time or error involved! 

 
So how can you take advantage of API? 

Before you start on your journey, you must consider your main point of data entry. The controls room if you will. This will most of the time, be your CRM system. Software’s like HubSpot, Zendesk and Salesforce are good examples of a system that are customisable, powerful and have excellent API usage. And while these platforms are useful, as an SME you are limited to what services they provide. 

If you have a bespoke-built CRM using a platform such as SharePoint, this is a much easier conversation to have, as your designer can work with you to build in the API’s required to communicate with the necessary systems. This custom CRM then functions as the central system for your business, sends and receives all the data from the external software such as payroll, accounting, order processing, email and much more. Keeping everything in sync perfectly. 

You might even still be working off a set of spreadsheets and need some help to get yourself to the next level. While this process is specific to your business and how you operate, we highly recommend that you have a conversation with your IT team to discuss API integration. 

 
Getting your hands on your bespoke CRM and setting up your API, doesn’t have to be costly 

 
A bespoke CRM is invaluable to a business that and needs a little bit more tailoring than what the conventional moulds of Salesforce and HubSpot create at a fraction of the cost. Utilising Microsoft’s powerful SharePoint platform, a bespoke CRM can be built for your organisation and tied to any number of external systems to work correctly for you. Tedious admin tasks can now run autonomously, and your admin assistant can focus on more important areas of your business to help you reach or growth goals. 

If you are paying for a Microsoft 365 subscription, then it’s more than likely you are already paying for SharePoint. To find out more on how a bespoke CRM on SharePoint can revolutionise your workflow you can reach out here, we’ll be happy to provide some insight.