Boost Efficiency: Automate for Growth in Design Business

Cover image for the blog post titled 'Boost Efficiency: Automate for Growth in Design Business' showing a project management chart, gears with a clock, and a rising bar chart.

Kickstarting Efficiency

Hello Design Business Leaders,

Are you or your design team swamped with repetitive tasks and dreaming of a ‘turbo button’ for your design business? You’re not alone. Dealing with everyday tasks can be challenging, but finding new and smart ways to work, like automation, can make a big difference. This guide will show you how automation can make your design business run smoother and help it grow. We’ll look at which automation tools could change the game for your business and explain why adapting to these changes is critical to keeping up in the fast-moving design world.

Smiling woman at desk with design software on screen, surrounded by overlay graphics of gears and checkmarks representing automation.

The Case for Automation

In the quest for greater efficiency, managers and business owners continually seek to do more with less effort. Automation is a strategic ally for saving time and enhancing accuracy and consistency across operations. This change lets your team focus more on being creative. It also makes your business stand out by making work much more efficient and reliable than the old way.

Understanding how automation can benefit the design industry is a step towards changing how we approach creative work. With this knowledge, we now focus on identifying which tasks in our workflow are best suited for automation’s powerful impact.

How to Identify Design Tasks for Effective Automation

Let’s delve into how to automate design tasks effectively, focusing on those that directly impact your team’s productivity.

  • Ask a Designer: Have a chat with your design team. They know best where the time drags. Learn about the tasks they often repeat, the ones that seem dull, or where slip-ups happen. Their thoughts can help you find where automation can make a difference.
  • Automating Variable Tasks in Design:  Next, let’s tackle tasks with variables. These tasks use the same steps but change details each time, making them perfect for automation. Automating these tasks can save significant time.
  • Artwork Management: Similarly, if you’re moving designs around from one document to another or setting them up on new artboards, automation can make that smoother.
  • Getting Ready for Printing/Approval:  Also, getting designs ready for print or client approval can be automated. From outlining text to ensuring images are sharp, automation handles it all. This saves time and keeps quality consistent.
  • Updating Many Files: Do you have a bunch of files that all need the same update, such as a new logo, legal line adjustments, or colour changes? This scenario perfectly illustrates the benefits of automation in design, showcasing significant time savings and uniformity.

In my previous posts, I’ve shared detailed examples of automating tasks like creating sales presentations and managing supplier documents. Check them out for more on what automation could do for you.

Thoughtful woman with glasses holding a pen, looking at her computer screen with overlay graphics of digital file flow and documents.

Automation can transform your design business. Here’s why:

Here’s a glimpse of what’s possible:

  • Faster Work: Automation speeds up tedious tasks, cutting hours of work down to seconds.
  • Fewer Mistakes: By automating repeat tasks, you can ensure accurate and consistent results every time.
  • Saves Money: Automation reduces the time and money spent on routine jobs.
  • More Creativity: Automation frees up designers to focus on the fun, creative work that sets them apart.
  • Growth: Automation makes it easy to manage increased workloads without sacrificing design quality or time.

Effective Automation in Design 

  • Assess Your Processes: Evaluate where automation can make the most significant difference. Focus on areas ripe for improvement.
  • Champion Creativity: Ensure automation supports, rather than replaces, the creative aspects of your work. This keeps tasks requiring human insight and emotion at the forefront.
  • Align with Objectives: Choose automation tools that propel your business goals forward, enhancing overall strategy.
  • Weigh Cost Against Benefits: Prioritize tasks for automation based on their potential to boost efficiency and reduce costs.
  • Cultural Fit: Implement solutions that resonate with your company’s ethos, supporting and enriching the workplace culture.
  • Continuous Evaluation: Keep assessing the impact of automation, adapting to your business’s and industry’s evolving needs.

Looking ahead, fully embracing automation in our design workflows opens doors to unprecedented growth and innovation. It’s about making smart choices now that pave the way for a more dynamic, creative future

Confident woman in professional attire standing by a desk with design tools, next to a speech bubble with a client testimonial praising automation efficiency. Maximizing ROI with Strategic Automation Questions

Before diving into automation, it’s crucial to understand its impact on your return on investment (ROI). Stantec’s practical insights offer a roadmap to making informed decisions about automation in design operations. Here are seven key questions to guide your journey:

  1. Can Workflow Logic Be Coded? Analyze if the design process follows a logic that can be translated into code, ensuring automation feasibility.

  2. User Base Size: Consider how many people would benefit from the automation tool. The broader the applicability, the higher the potential ROI.

  3. Task Repetitiveness: Evaluate the frequency of the task. High repetition tasks are prime candidates for automation, offering significant time savings.

  4. Development Effort: Assess the time and resources required to develop and maintain the automation script compared to the expected time savings.

  5. Automation Limits: Identify which parts of the workflow should remain manual to maintain flexibility and ensure broad tool applicability.

  6. Existing Tools: Research if similar automation solutions are already available within your organization or as third-party tools, which might offer a more cost-effective solution.

  7. Commercialization Potential: Consider the possibility of selling your automation solution to increase ROI, keeping in mind legal and business implications.

Explore Stantec’s detailed discussion on ROI considerations in design automation for a deeper understanding and additional context around these strategic questions.

Smiling woman in a white shirt holding out both hands with currency symbols above one hand and a gear with an upward arrow graph above the other, symbolizing financial growth and efficiency

Choosing the Right Automation Strategy

Introducing automation into your business entails making choices: Do you train your current team, bring on a new tech expert, or hire an external consultant? You might even find that a mix of these options works best.

Training Your Team

Pros: Your team is already familiar with your business. Learning new skills can enhance their job satisfaction and loyalty.

Cons: It takes time and resources to train employees, and productivity could dip during the learning phase. Not all designers can or will want to become programmers.

Hiring a Programmer

Pros: They come with specialized skills and can create custom solutions tailored to your needs.

Cons: The hiring process can be lengthy and costly, and there might be an extended adjustment period for them to understand the unique aspects of your company’s design processes.

Engaging an External Consultant

Pros: They provide top-notch expertise and can quickly pinpoint and implement the best automation strategies. With existing experience in design automation and processes, they can offer fresh advice on best practices and perform the implementation. It’s a flexible, low-risk way to test the benefits of automation.

Cons: They can be pricey and may not fully grasp the nuances of your company culture right away. Knowledge transfer to internal teams should be prioritized. Maintenance and support may be continuously needed after the initial implementation.

Combining Approaches

Pros: This approach offers the best of all worlds: in-house training, specialized skills from a new hire, and the strategic insights of a consultant.

Cons: It requires careful management and coordination, and the upfront costs can be higher, though it should be seen as a long-term investment.

No matter the path you choose, your team must be equipped to use the new automated systems effectively. Having an in-house champion with tech savvy can ensure smooth operation and that the automation serves its purpose.

In my next post, I’ll share a compelling case from the pharmaceutical industry. They successfully combined internal expertise with external support, boosting their production from 30 to 50 packages per day and slashing the time to create each package from hours to minutes. Stay tuned to see how this approach to automation could bring significant changes to your business too.

Embracing Automation for Future Success

Automation can make your design work faster, more accurate, and more creative. It helps your business grow and find new ways to do things better. When you pick which tasks to automate, consider how they affect your work and profits.

Here’s how to start thinking about automation:

Look at What You Need: What parts of your work could speed up? Figure that out first.
Think About Your Team: Does your team like trying new things or prefer sticking to what they know? This can help you decide how to introduce automation.
Plan Your Budget: Think about how much money you can spend on automation and the benefits.
Think Long-Term: Make sure the automation fits where you want your business to go.
Choose Your Involvement: Decide if you want to do this yourself with your team or get some outside help.
Mixing different methods, like teaching your team some basics and getting expert advice, often works best.

If you’re curious about automation or want to talk about how it could help your business, feel free to reach out and chat to figure out the best way to use automation. If I cannot find a solution, I can direct someone who can help. I’m here to help you make the most of your design work.

I hope this series makes you consider how automation could help your business. Let it save you time and bring out more of your creativity.

Let’s talk about how we can make your business better together.


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My name is Katja Bjerrum and I love to eliminate boring routine tasks in Adobe Illustrator. I work with scripts, actions and other tricks in Adobe Illustrator to streamline work processes.

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