How to automate repetitive tasks in 5 steps

Whitney Vige headshotWhitney Vige
January 9th, 2024
5 min read
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Summary

Discover how to automate repetitive tasks—transforming how your enterprise works and freeing up valuable time for high-impact initiatives.

Your team is in a relentless, repetitive cycle: manually updating project statuses, sorting through work requests, and dealing with endless email threads—tasks that demand attention but add little to your organization’s strategic goals. This scenario is all too common in today’s enterprises, where manual tasks eat into valuable resources and sideline core objectives. 

That’s where automation comes in. By automating repetitive tasks, you can enhance productivity and redirect focus toward high-impact, strategic work. In this guide, we’ll show you how to identify and transform repetitive tasks into automated processes, so your team can focus on the work that matters.

Automate tasks with Asana

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Learn how

The 5 step process to identify and automate repetitive tasks

We’ve broken down the task automation process into five comprehensive steps, so you can kick off your organization’s journey. 

Step 1: Identify tasks

Start by zeroing in on activities that are time-consuming, manual, or error-prone. These are usually tasks that don't require much decision-making but happen frequently enough to be a time suck—like setting up project workback schedules, monitoring the status of work, or sending out project updates. These low-hanging tasks are prime candidates for automation, as automating them can immediately yield benefits in accuracy and efficiency. 

Spot these tasks by going to the source—your team. Use strategies like surveys, informal interviews, and direct observation to understand their daily workflow challenges and identify patterns. What tasks recur with predictable frequency? What processes cause bottlenecks or take up time? Answering these questions will help you get a sense for where to start—and involving your team will ensure their buy-in for the upcoming changes.

Additionally, assess for automation potential across key areas, including:

  • Task delegation and prioritization: Automation can reduce time-consuming tasks, like assigning work to the right team members, standardizing work requests, and moving tasks from one stage to the next. 

  • Project planning and execution: Automation streamlines planning efforts by building reliable, scalable workflows for different processes—so you can dive right into work. 

  • Team collaboration and communication: Features like automated status updates and AI functionality that generates summaries of conversations, tasks, and comments ensure clear communication and keep everyone on the same page. 

  • Performance monitoring: With pre-built reporting dashboards, you can add charts and track progress with a click—and apply changes across your organization.

Automate tasks with Asana

Create processes that run themselves, so teams can make an impact faster.

Step 2: Assess the automation potential

Automating repetitive tasks isn't just about identifying routine work—it's about strategically choosing the tasks where automation will have maximum impact. When deciding which tasks to automate, look at criteria like the frequency and regularity of the task, its complexity, and how much time and resources you stand to save.

Task automation is about striking a balance—finding the sweet spot where automation maximizes efficiency without sacrificing the need for human insight and decision-making. When done correctly, it not only helps you work faster, but also streamlines processes across functions and creates cohesive, efficient workflows.

Step 3: Explore automation solutions

By automating repetitive tasks, work management platforms free up your teams to focus on more strategic, impactful work. When looking for the right platform, prioritize compatibility with your existing tech stack, as well as platforms that are scalable and user-friendly. Essential automation features to look for include:

  • The ability to create custom, streamlined workflows tailored to your enterprise’s specific processes. 

  • Forms that standardize requests, automatically assign and schedule tasks, and make kicking off work easy. 

  • Simple standardization that allows  you to edit and update organization-wide processes in just a few clicks, like workflow bundles

  • Rules that automate repetitive tasks, like assigning work, sending due date reminders, and updating task statuses. 

  • App integrations that streamline workflows by bringing together all your teams’ essential tools in one space.

  • The ability to add custom labels to your tasks so you can automatically sort, filter, and report on work based on specific metrics. 

  • AI automation features for smarter work and decision making, such as providing actionable updates from real-time data work data and optimizing organization-wide workflows. 

  • Templates that help you standardize and kickstart work for common projects and task types. 

Automate tasks with Asana

Create processes that run themselves, so teams can make an impact faster.

Step 4: Implement automation

Once you’ve chosen a work management platform, implementing automations involves collaborating with IT for necessary approvals and support, as well as onboarding your team to the platform and training them in the new processes.

Starting with a small pilot project—like automating the workback schedule of a common task or initiative—can help you test and refine the automation process before scaling broadly across the organization. 

Step 5: Measure impact 

There are several key metrics you can track to measure the effectiveness of your automation efforts, including:

  • Uptick in high-impact work: Use reporting dashboards to evaluate how your team’s focus has shifted toward more strategic, high-value activities as a result of automating work. 

  • Time saved: Time tracking tools and data analysis can help you measure the time spent on tasks and initiatives pre- and post-automation.

  • Costs saved: Use financial tracking tools or budget analysis reports to assess the reduction in operational costs associated with automated processes. Don’t forget to take into account the indirect cost savings as well, like those associated with time saved, increased productivity, and error reduction.

  • Employee satisfaction: Org-wide and team-specific surveys will help you understand the impact of automation on team morale and job satisfaction.

  • Error reduction: You can use manual error logs or employee self-reporting to compare the frequency of mistakes before and after implementing automated processes. 

  • Increased productivity: Keep an eye on how overall output and efficiency has changed to gauge productivity gains. 

  • Reduced manual work: Evaluate the decrease in routine, manual tasks among teams and departments. 

  • Increased production output: Reporting and analytics tools can help you monitor the uptick in output or deliverables to get a better idea of the impact on production. 

  • Rate of platform adoption: Use the platform’s analytics to keep track of how widely and effectively the new automation tools are being used across your organization. 

  • Reduced meetings and meeting times: Run team- and department-wide surveys or analyze calendar data to determine if there’s been a noticeable reduction in the number or duration of meetings since automating processes. 

Remember, this data isn’t just for assessment—it’s also for continuous improvement. Use the metrics and feedback to adjust and refine your automation strategies. Ultimately, automation should free up your team to focus on high-impact, strategic work that drives business outcomes. 

Work smarter with automation

Automating repetitive tasks can transform how enterprises operate. By following these five steps, you can reshape manual work into automated processes, reducing errors, boosting productivity, and freeing up your team to focus on high-impact work. Ready to get started? See how Asana can kickstart your automation journey. 

Automate tasks with Asana

Create processes that run themselves, so teams can make an impact faster.

Have more task automation questions? Check out our FAQs.

What is task automation?

Task automation is the process of using technology to automate repetitive, routine, and often manual tasks. It typically involves using tech—like a work management platform—to automate workflows and standardize processes like data entry, scheduling, building workbacks, and more, without manual input. 

What types of repetitive tasks can I automate?

Work and task automation can be used to automate a variety of manual tasks, from routine, everyday tasks to more complex initiatives, including:

  • Managing data entry

  • Scheduling and calendar management

  • Streamlining email and communication responses

  • Automating report generation

  • Creating and scaling custom workflows  

  • Coordinating task assignment 

  • Standardizing work intake 

What are the benefits of automating repetitive tasks? 

Automating repetitive tasks reduces low-value work and allows your team to focus on high-impact initiatives—which leads to cost savings, among other benefits, such as:

  • Increased efficiency

  • Improved productivity

  • Reduced errors

  • Time saved

  • Enhanced employee satisfaction

How does task automation differ from traditional task management? 

Traditional task management involves the manual tracking and execution of tasks. In contrast, task automation uses technology to automatically manage and complete tasks without manual intervention. 

Is task automation scalable for large enterprises? 

Of course—task automation is highly scalable for large enterprises and growing organizations. Look for a work management platform with scalable, customizable solutions, such as the ability to onboard a large number of seats and automate more complex workflows. 

What industries is task automation right for? 

A number of versatile industries can use—and benefit from—task automation, including:

  • IT: Service requests, data organization, data backups. 

  • Marketing: Campaign management, content creation, social media posting, pipeline tracking. 

  • Operations: Resource management, process standardization, goal setting. 

  • Sales: Prospecting, lead tracking and nurturing, scheduling. 

  • Healthcare: Patient data entry and management, appointment scheduling, charting.  

  • Retail: Inventory tracking, customer support, invoice processing. 

  • Finance: Transaction processing, generating purchase orders, reporting. 

  • Human resources: Posting job openings, employee onboarding, benefits administration, managing PTO requests.

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