How automation can boost productivity and operational efficiency

Part 2 of our Optimising Operational Efficiency blog series

wooden businessman pushing a wheel

Automating business processes and testing to optimise operational efficiency

Welcome to Part 2 in our blog series “Optimising Operational Efficiencies for SaaS Platform Development”.

Over time, SaaS development teams layer on more complexity as the product roadmap advances. There is also intense pressure to build to a timeline that’s motivated by customer needs, investors (and often both). However, building complicated technologies quickly can increase risk.

It’s essential to build in time to review and reflect to determine whether what we have built is ready. Those checks and balances are business critical – launching without full testing can significantly damage customer satisfaction, erode hard-won trust, and potentially kill your business.

We can all agree that it’s not worth skipping or skimping on testing, but wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to improve pace and keep releasing schedules? That’s where automation testing comes in, and it can also help remove mundane and costly manual processes that your development team would rather avoid.

The challenge of managing costs as product complexity increases

As your SaaS product evolves (by building in more features, functionality, and integrations) so do your development and infrastructure costs. Especially if you’re still relying heavily on manual processes.

This should not come as a shock, but something that is proactively built into your product roadmap and business plan.

That said, every SaaS business wants to be more agile and efficient. And, in the current market, all businesses are under pressure from increasing costs and looking for ways to improve operational efficiencies.

Many have resorted to cutting back on innovation (we cover how to avoid this in Part 3) or changing pricing plans (aka shrinkflation). We already covered how to avoid over-engineering and burning through your cash in Part 1.

Here we’ll focus on now automation can boost productivity - another way to improve cost efficiencies that’s often overlooked.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of going into business-as-usual (BAU) mode vs. continuing to invest in product innovation and development.

What is automation?

In this article, we’re focusing on two areas of automation we know have a significant positive impact on improving operational efficiency – business process automation and testing automation.

Business process automation:

  • What: A comprehensive approach to improving complex organisational processes
  • How: Using technology to maximise efficiency and simplify repetitive IT processes and business functions
  • Why: Improved productivity, transparency, resilience, and operational effectiveness

System testing automation:

  • What: The application of software to automate a human-driven manual process of reviewing and validating a software product
  • How: Focus on automating unit, integration, performance testing and end-to-end testing
  • Why: Reduce risk, errors and associated costs and delays. Improve accountability, speed to market and team productivity

These are not ‘nice to haves’. Automation is mission-critical to getting your SaaS product releases to market quickly and continuously.

Automating business processes and system testing helps SaaS platform businesses achieve their growth goals – by improving time to market, improving quality and customer satisfaction and getting to product-market fit more quickly.

The right way to automate

There are several ways automation can help improve business processes and testing – we’ll dig into this in a moment.

First, it’s worth considering What does good look like?”

This can be a quick way of auditing whether there are automation opportunities on the table for you to benefit from. SaaS businesses that embrace automation as part of their software development practice share the following three characteristics:

#1 They improve the process; they don’t just automate it.

  • Focus on what you’re trying to achieve and how to best automate that vs automating bad processes
  • Then ‘lift and shift’ these components to a new solution
  • This means you keep the good and build on it (vs ripping everything up and starting new) – a more pragmatic, collaborative cost-efficient approach

#2 They know that testing starts at the beginning not the end.

  • Automating testing is key to saving your team time and improving their morale and productivity.
  • Proactively planning testing requirements at the start of development, alongside roadmap features, means there’s time to automate as much as possible

#3 They balance short-term and long-term improvements.

  • In the short term, focus on streamlining key processes
  • This frees up your team to focus on higher-value activities such as improving and automating end-to-end processes in the longer-term

Improving business processes with automation

As we’d already noted, scaling SaaS businesses is not for the fainthearted. Expanding your business, onboarding, and retaining customers becomes increasingly challenging as they test the limits of your product and create demand for new features and functionality.

So, how do you keep up? Start automating!

Automation is a powerful way to overcome some of these challenges, improve operations and scale efficiently. By reducing your team’s workload on manual, repetitive tasks, you unlock their time to focus on advancing your product vision.

Automating your product development process also helps ensure high-quality releases (particularly if you include automated testing – which we will cover in a moment). Here’s a quick guide to get you going:

  1. Audit your current processes, workflows, and systems to identify areas where tasks are duplicated or redundant.
  2. Look for routine and regular tasks that would benefit from automation – for example data entry, report generation, customer onboarding and support.
  3. Review end-to-end processes and consider if there’s a better way to achieve your goal. This helps avoid automating the suboptimal process.

And remember, re-engineering business processes doesn’t have to mean costly programmes and throwing out legacy systems (and disenfranchising the teams who built them). Work with what you have - keep the good and build on it.

Improving SaaS product development testing with automation

Making automated testing part of your standard software development practice is a great way to mitigate associated risks and reap the benefits with these three common challenges:



Why automation is an essential strategy to optimising SaaS platform development

The best teams and companies embrace automation to improve business processes and testing. And it’s something your investors will be looking for. Why? Because it’s critical to building and shipping robust, reliable SaaS software that customers expect.

While streamlining operations and automating your business processes and testing will be an ongoing job, it often helps to get a specialist in to define your approach and get you started. It’s something our clients value us for; as we take a pragmatic, more cost-efficient and respectful approach to automation. We've written up a few of these client projects to give you an insight into what's possible.

In our experience, the SaaS businesses that prioritise automation and operational efficiency are the ones that create solid foundations for growth through sustained innovation and customer satisfaction.

Think you can benefit from automation? Here's what to do next.

Thanks for reading, we appreciate your time and would love to hear from you. You can email us to book a free, friendly initial chat with one of our Partners.

Follow us on LinkedIn to stay tuned for more strategies for improving operational efficiencies (we’ll be writing more about innovation in Part 3 next week).

About the author

With so much advice freely available these days, we believe, it’s always good to check who’s writing an article and why. So, here’s a short intro to us, Blue Hat Associates and why we’re sharing our thoughts on this important topic.

As an experienced collective of senior technology leaders, we know firsthand how hard it can be to scale a business. Our mission is to help scaling SaaS businesses achieve their technology and product goals faster and more cost-effectively.

Working across industries, we come across some common challenges our clients are facing and have built our services to address them. As a boutique consultancy, we work closely with our clients to effectively bolster their leadership and development teams to push through their most pressing technology and product problems.


Tim Palmer | CEO