The Manual Guide To Workflow Automation
What is Workflow Automation?
Workflow automation is defining a series of tasks to complete a process, and then removing all the manual steps. It’s like watching dominos fall in a cleverly orchestrated, harmonious pattern.
Every process has a workflow to complete it. However, many workflows are filled with manual tasks that are time-consuming, error-prone, and expensive. It’s like adding a bunch of rocks to your row of dominos. Workflow automation removes the rocks and provides a superior kinetic force that is swift, accurate, and relatively inexpensive.
How Does Workflow Automation Help Me?
When the Arvada Fire Protection District started to face burgeoning purchase order requests, they shifted them from paper to email. But this still required a lot of manual steps. They tried to use a workflow automation software tool, but it lacked a major feature of notifying the workflow participants, which led to a lot of oversight and delays.
The Support Services Manager at Arvada Fire decided to try it himself and created an automated workflow with cloud-based workflow automation software. The new tool was a perfect match and could be tailored further to fit their growing needs. Processing time went from two days down to a few hours. Workflow automation brought the firepower that the department was missing in order to speed up its approvals with more accuracy and insight. (Read the full case study here)
From admin to finance, and IT to marketing, automation can liberate all departments from the burden of manual processes. Here’s how every department in your company can benefit from a workflow automation software:
- Drastically reduce paperwork
- Source, verify, and recruit candidates faster with automated approval
- Ensure compliance on all processes
- Improve workflow visibility
- Provide swifter onboarding/offboarding experience
- Simplify document management
- Save time on approval processing
- Schedule auto-payments for recurring invoices
- Create a smart payroll management system
- Integrate data with other accounting software
- Delegate repetitive, menial tasks to the system
- Collaborate on workflows with teammates in multiple locations
- Ensure all content gets approved by the right eyes
- Establish a consistent process to nurture and follow up with quality leads
- Autopilot multiple campaigns and monitor them from a unified dashboard
- Simplify list building by standardizing the process
- Make sure all leads get the same red carpet treatment
- Never let a lead slip through the cracks due to error
- Get insightful report and analysis on ongoing processes
- Send contextual welcome, thank you, or promotional emails
- Assign tickets and escalations to available team members
- Avoid duplicate support requests
- Confirm scheduled updates with stakeholders
- Get a handle on Shadow IT
- Manage assets and track usage trends
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Workflow Automation Statistics
Still not convinced about the benefits of a workflow automation software? Here are a few statistics for you to think about.
Process + Marketing automation yields a 417% increase in revenue.
- Annuitas Group
Cisco Systems automated their CRM process and eliminated 75,000 customer calls/month and saved over $270 million annually in operating expenses.
- Business Process Management Journal
Businesses anticipate workflow automation in three areas: managing cost-efficiency, improving time-to-market, and optimizing customer self-service.
- Capgemini research
What To Look For In A Workflow Automation Software
You’ll find lots of options in the workflow automation software market. Some can be applied in any organization while others serve niche needs.
No matter what your situation, you want workflow automation software that is fast, flexible, and meets your needs. Here’s a quick checklist to identify the must-haves in a workflow automation software:
Automation is meant to make things simpler, so the product itself should be easy to use. Check for a friendly UI, no-code solutions, and drag-and-drop designers.
Cloud-based workflow automation tools are usually easier to maintain and run than on-premise versions. They also offer easy accessibility, reliable security, and data scalability.
Most cloud-based software come with interoperability with other cloud apps. Check your workflow automation software for API compatibility and tools like Zapier.
Your business is unique and so are your processes. Make sure the workflow automation software can handle complex cases like conditional steps and multiple branches.
Reports And Analytics
You can’t improve a process without reviewing it. The best workflow automation software tools offer in-built reporting to examine lags, monitor tasks, and make improvements.
Workflow automation software in today’s world has to work from any location and any device. From notifications to approvals, make sure the tool works for people on the go.
Many vendors charge tens of thousands of dollars for installing a workflow automation software - not including implementation and consulting. SaaS pricing is upfront and predictable.
How To Carry Out A Workflow Automation Process?
A workflow automation process begins with a clear objective and ends at process evaluation. Here are 5 steps involved in carrying out a workflow automation plan:
1. Identify Repetitive Process
Zero in on a process that could benefit from automation. Ask questions such as ‘Is it matured enough to be automated?’ or ‘Does the team approve of, or insist on automation?’.
2. Define Process Goals
The benefits of automation can be varied - increased ROI, faster time-to-market, increased team productivity. Clearly articulate your team’s expectations from automation.
3. Train The Team
The success of workflow automation depends on the willingness of its stakeholders. Communicate its benefits to the process owners and encourage their feedback.
4. Execute Automation
If possible, get vendor support to test the automation software for your workflows. When your team is ready, implement automation on the actual process and keep a close watch on it.
5. Measure KPIs and ROIs
The purpose of automation is not fully achieved until your business compares the difference it has made to the pre-existing processes, measured through reports and data analytics.
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