Workflow Automation is key to the success of every business. It’s the ultimate solution to all those time-consuming and inefficient business processes.
The primary goal of every business out there is to minimize operational costs and increase ROI. And, implementing automated workflows is the best possible way to achieve this goal.
A custom workflow automation tool can be an invaluable asset to your business. It not only helps you reduce time but also helps you improve efficiency and cut down on the resources spent on repetitive and manual tasks.
When implemented correctly, the workflow automation tool can help you save thousands of work hours every year.
But, what exactly is workflow automation, and how you can use it to your organization’s success? Let’s see.
What is Workflow Automation?
So what’s all the fuss about business workflow automation? Simply put, workflow automation is a technology that can be used to automate various business processes to reduce or eliminate human intervention.
Workflow automation transforms existing legacy and manual business processes such as approvals, claims, requests, assignments, sending out emails, etc., into a centralized, automated system.
Tasks that require a lot of manual paperwork can be handled digitally in a systematic way.
Take for example an employee who is responsible to enter data into spreadsheets and categorize the data based on custom filters. Now, suppose this employee spends 15 hours a month on this task at an hourly rate of $50.
This means that you are spending $750 every month for a task that can be automated.
This is just one example, there are hundreds of such activities in an organization that can be automated. With workflow automation in place, you can save a huge amount of money and pump it back into your core business.The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. - Bill Gates Click To Tweet
Why Businesses Need Workflow Automation Software? Facts You Should Know
Why businesses MUST adopt workflow automation technologies? The following are some facts that might clear your doubts.
Did you know:
- Poor leads management costs companies at least 1 trillion USD every year
- More than 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting
- Employees spend 20% to 40% of their time searching for documents manually
- 73% of Customer Support professionals believe managing time and workload the biggest issues
- CEOs spend nearly 20% of their time on work that can be automated
It’s clear that companies spend quite a lot of time on redundant, manual tasks that can be automated.
If you really want to take your business to the next level, you should think of investing in business workflow automation software.
Workflow Automation: Best Use Cases
By embracing the automation technology, you can transform the tedious, time-consuming, and manual work processes into easy-to-use, automated workflows and improve your business’s efficiency like never before.
Here are some examples that, if put into practice, will make your life easier.
1. Creating Tasks
It’s a very common practice for many organizations to communicate tasks via email.
But just because it is a common practice doesn’t mean it is okay to keep creating tasks this way.
The main reason is that it leads to miscommunication, confusion, and sometimes missed tasks.
Workflow automation is the best solution for such a case. It can help you:
- Create to-dos out of emails, and thus make way for better task management
- Notify the person who’s been assigned the task and follow up with them for updates
- Save you crucial time checking in, getting updates, and manually updating everyone
2. Generating Invoices
Invoicing is core to most businesses ‘ accounting. However, if not done correctly, it leads to mistakes in financials.
With the help of workflow automation, it has become possible to automate many such traditional accounting processes. Besides, it speeds up the generation and delivery of invoices without going through multiple manual processes.
For example, when your sales team makes a sale through PayPal, they wait for the Accounts team to catch up and generate the invoice. Simple automation can lead to an automatic invoice every time a sale is made with PayPal.
When you have to bill a specific client for the same amount every month, an automated workflow can generate and send those invoices on a set schedule, freeing any team member from such repetitive tasks.
3. Onboarding New Staff
Don’t you feel the new employee onboarding process is tedious – involving a lot of time, workforce, and resources?
For hiring just one candidate, many small tasks have to be completed as part of their onboarding. Besides, the complicated process can overwhelm new hires.
Workflow automation helps speed up this process by facilitating new employees inputting their information and submitting it directly to the human resources personnel. The system also allows everyone – the hiring manager, the employee, and HR access to the same set of information, so there is no redundancy.
4. Managing Leads
We all know leads are crucial for any business to grow and thrive. But keeping a tab on your leads can be a challenging and frustrating experience without an automation system.
There is enormous data to filter, manual following up to do, and limited resources to do the job, making lead management challenging without automation.
Workflow automation can allow your sales team to focus on the later stages of the sales funnel. It can also help you sift customer inquiries on your website, populate your CRM with relevant information, route the lead to your sales team for follow-up, and transfer all new leads to your mailbox.
5. Reimbursing staff expenses
Does your company manage travel or any other kind of expenses of employees manually?
Then consider all the different steps involved in reimbursing employees for those expenses.
The employee emails an expense report to the manager, the manager manually approves it, and then the manager sends it to the accounts department. The accounts department manually keys in the information mentioned in the report before transferring the reimbursed amount to the employee.
Workflow automation can simplify this process. The employee fills out a form with relevant information and submits it. The manager gets a notification regarding this and reviews and approves it. The report is then routed to the accounts department, where the information is automatically pulled into their system and the reimbursement amount added to the employee’s next pay-check.
6. Organizing documents
You must be thinking there are many cloud-based options for organizing files, folders, and the likes?
But it’s not necessary that you, your clients, and your partners will be using the same options.
There’s a possibility that you and your team at the office might be working with OneDrive. But the others may be working with Google Drive or even Dropbox.
This can cause difficulty in managing the documents – especially sharing something on collaborative projects.
An automated workflow can resolve it.
For example, when a client uploads a new document for your team into Google Drive, it automatically copies that file over to Dropbox for you, or your team can ease this situation.
7. Managing Trouble Tickets for IT
When an employee needs some IT support and contacts the IT team for assistance, a trouble ticket is generated. The trouble ticket automation helps the IT team handle such technical assistance efficiently.
Instead of employees needing to email the IT team when something isn’t working and requires attention from IT, they can fill and submit a form.
The workflow automation system can then assign a unique ticket to a specific IT-support person. It keeps requests organized and easier to manage, leading to less response time by the IT team.
8. Mitigating Shadow IT
Shadow IT includes those IT systems, technologies, or applications used by employees without the company’s IT department’s approval. They may involve using employee’s personal USB devices, cloud services like Dropbox, or commonly used messengers like Viber and WhatsApp, depending on its policy.
Though people turn to shadow IT for varying reasons ranging from efficiency to comfort, they can pose some serious threats to your business like data loss or security issues.
An automated workflow can help you avoid these problems by using an alert system that automatically notifies the administrator and blocks shadow applications that haven’t been approved by the IT dept.
9. Approving leave and vacation requests of staff
Processes around leave and vacation requests and approvals are simplified through workflow automation. Rather than employees emailing the request to their managers for approval and then forward to payroll and HR, the employees can fill the request form and submit it at the automated system.
When the manager approves the request, employees’ leave information gets populated into the HR and payroll systems. This will save time for any manual data entry.
10. Performance Reviews
Performance reviews are often associated with anxiety. Also, the review process and criteria usually vary across different departments of the company.
The review seems challenging because to-dos are assigned on emails, spreadsheets, and verbally. This results in tasks getting overlooked, no clear sync between to-do and employees’ performance evaluation, and missed due dates. There is a lot of paperwork involved in a performance review.
With an automated system, you can replace many paper-based tools with online form filling, critical approval, and review touchpoints.
Moreover, a standardized approach ensures consistency of the process and criteria throughout the organization and gives employees insight into where they stand in the process and what’s in store next.
11. Generating Purchase Orders
Do you rely on purchase orders (POs) to manage and control spending in your business’s procurement processes?
I’m sure you find POs extremely important because they ensure the buyers and suppliers are on the same page.
By automating your PO processes, you can benefit from substantial cost reductions, greater financial control, less overspending, and productivity gains.
Besides emailing print-sign-scan PDF documents is no longer considered an efficient way to send information.
In today’s fast-paced and often remotely managed business world, such manual processes that rely on emails and printing are too slow and inefficient. Also, delayed approvals push back your product timeline.
PO workflows save time, save employees from making avoidable mistakes, and let them focus on work that matters most rather than chasing paperwork. PO is then automatically routed to the relevant person for approval according to the rules you decide to build into your workflow.
A simple purchase order workflow can facilitate:
- Reviewing and approving of PO.
- Depending on business norms, e.g., if the amount exceeds $10,000, the approval request goes to a senior person.
- Sending PO to the supplier (outside the company).
- Receiving goods or services and the invoice from the supplier.
These are only a few selected examples of workflow automation that can make the organization’s processes more efficient.
There are different ways in which you can use automation to reduce your manual tasks. If you take some time to evaluate your processes and look for the repetitive tasks that can be automated, it will help you save your team’s time and energy to grow the business.
Benefits of Workflow Automation Software
An automated workflow benefits your business in numerous ways. Here are some of the most important benefits of business workflow automation:
1. Fewer Errors, Less Risk
Manual and human error is something that even well-managed companies can’t escape. The right workflow automation software can significantly reduce human errors that cost companies a lot of time and resources.
The automated workflow system would just need the authorization to proceed, and it would handle the rest of the tasks.
For example, let’s say your business requires sending periodic emails to your clients or customers. If you implement the automation software, all you would need to do is just approve the simple requests made by the tool, like send or accept or reject the email.
The automation tool would handle the rest of the activities such as updating the list, attaching an updated file, adding proper signatures, subject line, etc., on its own.
This would eliminate the possibility of forgetting to send the emails or attaching the outdated files and so on.
Human errors affect finance, sales & marketing departments a lot. A mistake in sales means the loss of a potential customer, which ultimately has a severe impact on your revenue. With the help of workflow automation, you can eliminate human errors and the risks involved.
2. Saves Time
Automated workflows help your employees save time on repetitive tasks. Hospitals are the best examples of how workflow automation saves time.
In hospitals, doctors generally prescribe the medications and leave to check the next patient. The nurse takes this prescription, enters it into the computer for billing, and gets back to you with the dosage. Later that day, the nurse has to track down the same doctor to get the confirmation signature so that she can submit the details to the administration.
This whole process takes up significant time for the nursing and administrative staff.
Now, in this case, if the hospital has the necessary workflow automation in place, the system would take care of this manual, repetitive task on its own.
The system would trigger the workflow every time the nurse would enter a prescription for billing. The doctor would receive a notification on his/her mobile to confirm the medication & dosage. After that, it would send a notification to the administrative task about the drug and update the patient profile.
With the help of this automation, nurses can save quite a lot of time, which they can spend in taking better care of the patients.
3. Improved Employee Productivity and Quality of Service
Repetitive tasks are the main reason why employees feel unmotivated. The mundane tasks not only take up time, but they also hurt the overall productivity of your employees.
Eliminating repetitive tasks allows your employees to focus on more critical business activities. It can enhance the morale in employees and improves creativity.
Businesses that have automated workflows for repetitive and manual tasks have successfully increased employee productivity by 12% to 15%.
4. Improved Teamwork and Communication
Workflow automation provides your employees with a convenient platform where they can communicate and collaborate efficiently.
Proper communication encourages teamwork and improves overall productivity.
Most of the workflow automation systems have internal communication platforms that are designed to connect different departments and teams within your organization. It will notify individual groups when the specific phase of the project is completed, so the team responsible for the next stage can step in.
5. Actionable Data and Scalability
Workflow automation can help your team focus more on the organization’s growth rather than spending time on mundane tasks. The right business automation software allows you to eliminate the bottlenecks and reach a higher potential.
In addition, workflow automation software provides you with valuable insights and actionable data. This data helps you identify employee performance, overall business productivity, and the problem areas.
Improved task management and resource allocation can increase individual team performance and overall productivity of your organization.
Steps to Take Before Workflow Automation
There are some crucial steps that you need to perform before developing a custom workflow automation software for your organization. Let’s take a look.
1. Identify the Problem Areas
The first thing you should do is identify the areas that need workflow optimization. For better understanding and clarity, you can create a visual representation of all the existing workflows using the flowchart diagrams.
A clear understanding of current business workflows and processes would help you quickly find out the repetitive tasks and problem areas.
You need to carry out a structured process mapping to identify the automation opportunities within your organization. This will help you prioritize which task(s) automation will offer the most value to your business.
It will also help you understand the existing processes in place, the systems driving them, and the human interactions needed to perform these tasks.
2. Define Business Goals
The next step is to define your business goals. It would be best if you mention the path to achieve your desired business goals, and how the workflow automation is going to help get faster results.
Is it an increased ROI? Or a faster time-to-market? Or are you aiming for improved team productivity?
Be transparent from the very beginning and clearly articulate your team’s expectations from automation.
You should also set key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the performance of automation.
3. Select the Right Tools
So, what are the right tools and how do you select the right tools for automation?
Selecting the right technology for automation is a crucial step. Make sure the new technology is:
- Easy and simple to use and understand.
- Flexible and scalable for any upgrades later.
- Integrates with the existing tools to pull existing data and work seamlessly with the information your business has already stored.
4. Involve Your Employees
Last but not least. Make sure you involve your employees in all the stages of workflow automation development.
You see, in every organization, there is always some amount of resistance to the new changes. That’s why you need to discuss the process with your employees and ask for their ideas.
- Set-up tutorials for employees, especially for those who are expected to use it the most.
- Build a company culture that’s open to any change.
- Involve your team as much as possible.
- Provide continued education of the new system through regular training sessions.
Workflow automation is one of the major business decisions, and when you involve your employees in this process, the development and implementation become even smoother.
Let’s Automate Your Business Workflow
A sophisticated workflow automation software allows your business to achieve higher goals in relatively less time. As most of the tasks are automated, you can put more effort into the core business operations and boost the growth rate.
But, getting your business workflow automated is not as easy as it seems, especially if you’ve used legacy systems. The best workflow automation development team would take care of everything from existing workflow optimization to legacy data migration.
Want to automate your business workflow and have a legacy application that needs to be redeveloped? Get in touch with us. We are an award-winning web and software development company with a vast experience of developing workflow automation tools for different industries.