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May 23, 2022

E026 Amit Sarda: Automation Systems Designer

Don't Let Perfectionism Be An Obstacle. Automating 40% Of Your Workflows Will Transforms Your Business, Even If It Is Not 100% Perfect.

Amit Sarda is a Systems Designer who help business founders grow their businesses via data, analytics, process, and systems consulting using Pipedrive CRM, Glide Apps, Zapier, and Tableau. As well as PROCESIO.
His Twitter: @sardamit


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Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 0:07
Once upon a time, there were millions of businesses struggling. Every day they wasted time, effort, and energy on repetitive tasks that added no value one day, the better automation podcast by PROCESIO came to help them find the way. Because of this, these businesses save time, reduce costs, innovate and make better decisions because of that. These businesses grow, scale, and use human creativity to change this world. Hello, my name is Aziz and I'm your host that Better Automation podcast by PROCESIO, where I interview the world's top experts and share their very best ideas on how to improve automation in your business, processes and life. My guest today is Amit Sarda. Amit is a systems designer who helps business founders grow their businesses via data analytics process and systems consulting using Pipedrive pipe using Pipedrive CRM, glide apps, Zapier and Tableau and hopefully soon PROCESIO as well. Amit, how are you today?

Amit Sarda 1:30
Thank you so much for the warm welcome. Thank you.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 1:33
I'm feeling lucky, grateful, optimistic and excited about this episode. And to begin from the beginning, you know, what is the job of a systems designer? For someone who might not be familiar with what it is? What do you do? Exactly. And the benefits to companies of using your services?

Amit Sarda 1:56
Okay, so I don't know about what the definition of the role is, but I could speak to what I do that business, business and business founders. So I'm a single person team, I work with business partners, to help them firstly, digitize their businesses, digitize their business operations, and then hopefully automate manual tasks in the process, so that their teams can solely focus on things that actually require their minds to focus on.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 2:25
I like that, it makes me wonder, I don't know how it is for you, but we are in 2022. How many businesses are yet not yet so digitized, as you'd expect? Do you believe that the businesses who are going into digital transformation are the few pioneers who are excited about what's new? And most businesses only want to stay with what is safe and conservative and traditional? Or do you feel there is a big push a large percentage of businesses who are actually digitizing at a significant rate?

Amit Sarda 3:03
I think one of my favorite thoughts is that we don't know what we don't know. And this applies to every person in the world. And most of it businesses as well in business owners as well. So unless there is somebody to tell them the promised land, or a glimpse of the promised land, they would never have an idea that okay, something is possible to leverage using technology. So, for me, the first aha moment, whenever I speak to any business founder is always this is what he was this what I have accomplished with a similar client on a similar project in the past, and this is where you could go, theory based on the evidence that I'm presenting to somebody needs to tell them that even though you're doing these things, the same way for the last, I don't know, five years, 10 years, or however long the business has been around. There is an opportunity to scale this business using technology, while at the same time reducing costs, and then growing your revenues multiple folds. So showing a glimpse of the Promised Land is my favorite thing to do. Whenever I'm speaking to business partners for the first time. And these tools. I think of these tools as enablers. I did not start with any tool in particular, I picked up tools as in when they were relevant. I picked up new tools on the go, as in when business founders asked me to help them with a certain tool. So long answer short, I think solving for that you don't know what you don't know problem. I think that's the biggest opportunity. And I think as in when more information is available about what promise technology holds, I think more and more businesses will be keen to like digitize everything the businesses

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 4:57
are involved with and I love how your mind Since scaling while reducing costs and multiply in profits, as well as that you're not really focused on specific tools, you're just using, what is useful when it becomes relevant and when the need arises, which is like just in time, Intelligent Automation or something like that. And therefore, since the most exciting part for you is opening the eyes of business owners, to what they didn't know, imagine we are such people. What do you tell them? What stories do you have with other clients? What is your pitch or presentation that really makes them think, wow, I didn't know all this was possible, share more so that maybe someone listening is in that situation? And they will think Amit, this is wonderful. I didn't even know this was possible.

Amit Sarda 5:50
Yeah, I think, because I'm a single person team, I don't have a typical pitch that I present to clients, my every engagement begins with a, an hour long conversation with founders, we talk about a number of things, sometimes we jump into solution too soon. But it is always a part of Okay, tell me what your problem is, tell me what you're struggling with. And we can see what tools can come into the picture to help you. So I'd never do any presentations and never do any case studies, I never do any, any of those things. So for me, it's always, it always starts with a conversation, trying to understand what their problems are. And then at the end, narrowing down that problem was reducing the scope to one particular problem, and doing a test run with that plan. So I asked clients to take a leap of faith with me do an engagement, which is like two hours or five hours, and C, evaluate what the value is, that is derived at the end of those fibers. And at the end of those fibers, like the kind of work that I do, it's very easy to like, like the benefits are really tangible, as compared to other engagements. So businesses, they immediately see the value that is coming out of an engagement like this, like at at its core, I like to think of myself who is good at problem solving. And the problem could be anything, the worst that could happen is I tell the business founder that, okay, this is something that I'm not good at, you should probably speak to this XYZ person. And fortunately, I knew people in other areas of business that would be applicable. And I moved, I'm more than happy to connect the business founder with those vetted professionals, people who I knew personally would probably be able to help them better. But again, like, this is not the answer, probably you're looking for, like I don't have a set methodology to bring clients in. It's all. For me. It's all conversation driven.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 7:50
Thank you. And then to know more about your clients, because maybe that can provide an answer in in a way that is indirect. Are they from a specific community or country or something like that? And what are the common problems? Since you have a conversation about problems with clients, or patterns you need you notice often that you tend to help people with more than other problems?

Amit Sarda 8:19
Yeah, so I think, geographically, most of my clients are based in the US. And the UK, I have some clients who are based in Europe, some who are based in Australia, Singapore. And recently, like, there is, like the good and bad thing as well about somebody like me is, it is not focused on one particular industry. The good thing about problem solving is that you can speak to anybody and you will be able to identify some problems that they struggle with. So my work is industry agnostic. Businesses have problems, I have certain tools which can come in as solution, I simply match meet those two things, and provide them with a solution like that. But recently, in the I have kind of helped dental practices to set up a lead management system using Pipedrive. And those projects have been a phenomenal success. The founders are extremely happy. Fortunately, those businesses have operators who think a lot like me. So it's very easy for somebody like me to come in and throw them the value that they would get in trying to streamline these things. And a typical problem that these businesses would face is that they, they do not have a way to manage their inquiries, in which case CRM is a really good solution that comes into the picture. And the good thing about CRM is that it's a lot better version of managing leads on email, or a spreadsheet because no matter how much I love, Google Sheets or Excel The truth is that a number of people struggle with using spreadsheets. And this is where tools like CRMs tools like glide apps, they help present data in Google Sheets or excel in a more consumable format for end users, you cannot expect everyone to be like completely proficient at something like Excel or Google Sheets, because truth be told, it takes it will probably take a lifetime for anybody to learn all things about Excel, Excel is a monster. Now it's a it's an amazingly powerful tool. But I sincerely do not expect every person who is in the business to understand how to use Excel. So these tools, no awkward apps like glide. CRM is like Pipedrive, what they do is they help abstract the challenges of the tools and present that data in a very easy and consumable way. And trying to boil down everything to like a simple to do less. Like for example, I try to automate all engagement activities to get people in the pipeline, to get people in a discussion stage with the sales team. So I have boiled down all of that to a simple checklist, that, okay, these are the 10 calls that you have to make in the next day, the next one out, do them and then move on to the next thing, everything will boil down to a list of tasks that you have to do in a date. And everything else is being taken care of using.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 11:22
Then I have to ask you, because truly, you mentioned something very important about even excel or spreadsheets people can be not so proficient at using them. So imagine someone here is listening and thinking, well, I already know how to do my processes in the repetitive manual way. All this digital transformation thing, maybe it will complicate my work, maybe those tools or the results or the dashboards or whatever, will be too hard to use. Maybe I will need to spend time learning them and I'm a business owner, I'm trying to earn money. I don't have time to be doing all that. What's your answer? Do you feel they're actually quite easy to use? Or that they require time, but the investment is worth it? And multiple times? Or what would you say to answer such a fear or objection?

Amit Sarda 12:15
Okay, so there are like whenever you adopt a new technology or a new tool, there are two types of part one is an ongoing cost of using that particular, for example, every SAS like pipeline or bladder, they will come in with a subscription fee, which is going to be monthly or annual fees, right. So that's one type of past. Now that cost is still okay. But the downside of not setting up those systems correctly. It is a huge cost if things are not set up correctly. So that is where those one time costs of setting up those CRM or the system correctly, is more important. And it's like whenever you start using a new tool, you will have you will require a one time setup. Engagement, which will require an expert like me, or somebody like me to come in and guide you through how to use the system in the most efficient way. Like the reason why we know this is because we as consultants, like for example, I'm a hybrid consultant, I have worked with 10s of businesses trying to set up this CRM based on the customer's requirements. And now we know what works best in each setting. So when instead of you going through those hard lessons, learning those hard lessons by yourself, you can bank on somebody like me, or people like me, to help you set up the CRM based on your requirements and to hit the ground running. Like we will not only set up the CRM in the most efficient way, we will also show you the ways to use it efficiently in your day to day operations. So the first time engagement is a short one. It is typically an implementation, you set up the system, right? You import existing data, you show them how to use it, how to find the data, how to find the old data and the new system and things like that. It typically takes for a system like Pipedrive, it typically takes one week worth of effort. But the right way of looking at this expense is to look at the ROI that you get by investing this amount by by spending this money in trying to like sign up for a new tool, as well as then getting an expert to like, do the hand holding for you.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 14:19
Thank you. I like that. And it's very interesting. And I would like to demystify the process even more, because you spoke about how when you have a conversation with clients, you understand their problems, their needs, and then think about which tools to help them with that. But let's say a new client comes to you. How is the process? How do you figure out what needs to be automated, maybe what needs to be deleted or they stopped doing it? What should be kept to be done manually? What is the first thing that you go for? Are there like easy wins that you always go for? Or do you focus more on specifically what they came with to speak about just as a general process whether for you, or let's say, a very ambitious business owner who wants many sleepless nights and wants to do them on their own. What's your advice for someone to conduct a digitization process correctly, how to think about it to do the right things and avoid any common mistakes or misconceptions?

Amit Sarda 15:27
I think, for me, the thing that gets a foot in the door for me is always a small problem statement that a founder will come to me with. So they want to let's say, connect a website, lead gen form to the Pipedrive CRM, or they want to like create a catalog of their products using glide apps. The entry for me a foot in the door moment for me is always to like address that particular problem first, it can be like a one hour engagement, a five hour engagement. And during that initial engagement, you kind of get a sense of what the client is like to work with, how do they think how they are as a business operator, how ambitious they are with things like automation, scaling things using automation tools. Once that initial engagement is done, during that process, I also gain insights into what as the business does. So it's like starting from a point and then going round and round around that central point and then expanding what I can what I have to offer for any problem areas for the business. So like the answer is annoyingly very simple, it has to start with a small problem that most most of the times the clients will reach out to me saying that this is the problem I'm facing. Can you help me with that? It starts like that, and then it expands into like other areas of business.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 16:50
Thank you. And then I'm curious about you. How, what's your story? How did you begin your automation journey? What brought you to this work? How what made you either fall in love with it or find passion in it or decide to do it rather than anything else you could have been doing?

Amit Sarda 17:09
So automation is one of the things that I do not the only thing that I do. So I use different systems. And when I do implementation for CRM, for example, my brain clients will always come back to me saying that this process is taking a lot of time, can we do something? And I'm like, Okay, let me give, give this some thought. Let me see how much of it can be automated. And the thing that I always like, kind of remind them about is that the goal is not to automate from zero to 100. Even zero to 80 is good enough. If I could automate from zero to 100, then probably I would not need anybody in the team, right? So we have to like put the put the advantage that we are going to get out of automation in context, we have to define that. Okay, zero to 80 is also a win like, in simpler terms, it's about going from zero to one and then not one to 100. But just extrapolating that to a more reasonable scale, even zero to 80 is a good enough efficiency to achieve using automation tools. And then, based on like it again, like when I speak to clients, I asked them to like describe to me what their sales process is because every business has a different sales process. And when they start talking about those sales process, the problem solver in my head is all constantly looking for solutions that could immediately solve some of those problems, I try my best to hold off providing the solution at the same moment, but it is like understanding each like breaking down the entire process from a lead coming into the system to the eventual sale trying to break that process down into stages. And then identifying the opportunities for automating most of the bids using automation tool. And there is no single automation tool that does all does everything so that there are a number of different automation tools depending on what the situation is one automation tool is better than others, one automation tool is more powerful than others, one automation tool is more cost efficient than other. So in my mind, I have to also think about okay, does it make sense to have like four or five automation tools in the picture and which one to use for which particular situation? So all of these thoughts are they are constantly running in my mind when I'm speaking to clients. And again, this is completely subjective it is It depends a lot on what we are talking about. When I'm speaking to the client, which problem gets the most emotion from from the founder. That is how we prioritize is well

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 19:51
thank you and since you said there's no tool that does everything, and you're doing automation a lot Then you understand that conceptually and practically, what is missing within the current landscape of tools? And what future trends or technologies or something you wish they had, that will make automation easier, your work easier and simpler and with less friction?

Amit Sarda 20:17
So honestly, like, I think, still, automation has a very large landscape, I'm pretty sure things that I'm going to say, that are not available in automation, they are going to be available somewhere else, it's just a matter of solving my I don't know what I know, I don't know problem for myself. Right. So I think most of the automation tools they are good enough, they do most of the things, right? I think it's one thing that every automation tools can improve on is the user experience, some automation tools are relatively harder to use, some are relatively easier to use. A major improvement or, or an area I see where automation could be even more powerful is customer facing automation. So one thing that I like saying about automation is that like I'm very risk averse in terms of what we can automate. So I try not to automate things that are directly customer facing. So for example, there are clients who will come in and ask, okay, if I move a particular deal from one stage to the other, I want that trigger to initiate a email directly to the client. And I'm like, what happens if you do it by mistake, people can get the wrong email at the wrong time, and it will not be a nice thing for your business. So some solutions to make customer facing automation a little more easier, kind of some some solutions that help us build safety nets, in terms of sending customer facing automation, I think that would be a massive opportunity in terms of marketing automation. And because I work with a lot of sales related activities and sales automation. For me, the next logical step is delving into marketing automation. And that is where I'm seeing the next opportunity.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 22:08
Thank you. This was actually so fascinating. So for you when you think about it, yes, teams or companies can hire someone like you who is an expert, and can do the automation for them. But let's say there is a larger company, they want to hire you to train some of their team members on how to automate how to do those things. What would be a direct return on investment or benefit of having such skills in house trained by someone like you? Do you believe, for example, that non technical team members could be doing things without needing to wait for the coders or the technical team to be involved? Maybe if everybody can do them, they can see opportunities for small improvements and tweaks? Or whatever you think about first, how easy or how long should such a training take? And what can they expect if they have these skills? Or should they only use it when they need by hiring someone external rather than house having those skills in house all the time?

Amit Sarda 23:14
I think there is no single right answer to this question. It's always going to be subjective, it's always going to depend on the size of the business, the size of the client, how many resources they have to spare to invest in something like this, how many people they want to train to take on something like this, for example. If they have no plans to repeat the process, in other areas of their business, it does not make sense to develop a team in house in that particular situation, it would make sense to hire an individual like me get those things done. And then one thing that I do with my particular clients is I have I asked him to sit with me on calls while I try and automate things. And during those video calls, I explained to them every bit of what I'm trying to automate how I'm thinking about automating stuff. So on in one on one exchanges, it is it works for me where the client slowly picks up the tricks as well. In for enterprises, I think if the enterprise has grand plans of adopting new code platforms or automation tools to like scale, different areas of the business, I think one representative from each business can typically join a session like this, I think a couple of days or three days at max is going to be enough to have a beginner friendly session of introducing them to different new automation tools. But in addition to that, what I would also recommend is having refreshes sessions, which is like three months down the line or six months down the line trying to reevaluate okay, what was that last? How was that last session? beneficial to you? How have you lived Is that and come back to situation come back to the meeting or to the training with situations where you thought you could use these tools. But for some reason, you could not share your wins where you could leverage these automation ideas. Because those could then be opportunities for showing people within the organization, the glimpse of the promised land, that we learned this new thing in three days, this is how we use it in our systems, this how much we have automated this stuff. And this is the resultant cost saving or growth in sales. This is how it has helped with productivity and things like that, you depending on which department it is applicable for the metric would be different. And once the internal stakeholders are sold on the idea that okay, this is how automation helps us. This is how that investment in trainings, a set of people inside the organization has helped us, they will even then be more keen to like keep doing this on an ongoing basis. I think the field of automation, it is growing by leaps and bounds. And one session in probably like one year is not going to be enough. So there has to be this culture of constantly trying to learn what else is happening in the market, and then jump on the bandwagon as soon as possible.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 26:11
Thank you. This was such a fascinating and interesting conversation. And people who listen to you, they like what you're saying. And they want to either use your services or learn more about you. What's the best way for them to go? Should they go to your website to your LinkedIn to your Twitter, or where and I'll make sure to include some links in the description.

Amit Sarda 26:34
Yeah, I think the best place to find me is my website. It's summit Sardar dot XYZ, I'm sure you will mention the link to my website. Instead of me trying to spell it out live on video. Otherwise, you can find me on LinkedIn on on Twitter or even on Google. If you look for Masada Pipedrive, probably or Masada gliders. Probably the first result will be me.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 27:00
Yes, that's very good SEO. And, of course to everyone. We spoke about many tools and one of the best and ones that is new and upcoming is process EO which I recommend to everybody processes, the modern low code, no code platform for advanced automation and creating an enterprise grade back end for your software. Any listener can request a totally free account at processor dot app that you can use every month in very, very, very interesting and useful ways and those who need more capacity. There is a very generous 50% off discount code which is better 50 have one word in capital letters more information in the description as well. Thank you Amit. This was my pleasure, my privilege and I wish you a productive and great day.

Amit Sarda 27:58
Thank you so much Aziz. This was amazing. And I'll give PROCESIO a try.