Creating your first automated workflow process is like learning how to ride a bike. It makes take you a few tries to find your balance, but once you do, nothing can stop you.
Many small business owners and department heads like to be hands-on with the new technology making rounds in business circles. But you don’t need to be at engineer-level proficiency or have a fully-staffed IT team at your disposal to get the most out of a cloud workflow management software.
If you’ve never tried workflow automation before, start by picking some of the easiest workflows in your company to automate. Just like you don’t send your four-year-old to a mountain bike trail to learn how to ride a bike, you want to pick a smooth surface with lots of runway.
As a rule of thumb, pick processes that already have a form, are documented well, and just could use a bit of steam to work faster or track better.
Here are three of the most common and simplest workflow process that you can use to kickstart the automation culture in your business.
1. Employee onboarding process
You likely spend a lot of time and effort selecting the right people for your team. But how do you introduce them to your company culture? Do you throw your new engineers in a dark room and tell them you’ll check in on them next week? Or do you have a systematic plan for how to ease them into your company?
Most business owners and department heads strive for the latter, but the business of office life means that you can’t give every new joinee the same treatment.
…unless you look at an automated process.
Employee onboarding usually includes documentation through offer letter, forms, employee database, etc.
You can easily upgrade this process to an automated workflow. Just make sure to take out as much manual labor from the process as possible when you design the form, model the workflow, and create approval routes.
You can fiddle with the simple drag-and-drop interface in cloud-based workflow apps to create dropdown fields, fields with pre-populated data, date and time ranges, rich media attachments, etc.
2. Expense processing
Travel claims and other reimbursements are simple workflows, but the extensive use of paperwork tends to complicate the processing time. There is also a lot of back and forth that happens because of miscommunication in the manual workflow.
When you convert this process to an automated workflow, you will limit the scope of mistakes because you can set exact validations while designing the form.
For example, if you have disabled the fields from accepting submissions from previous months, employees can’t proceed with a request because if it violates the validation.
You can add special conditions in your workflow to route the approval to the department head when an employee submits an amount that exceeds the defined claims limits, instead of rejecting the request and having it come back to you at a later date.
3. Service request process
Your admin team deserves an award for the way they handle service requests. But rather than a tacky certificate, why not make their job easier with an automated workflow process?
Whether it’s about getting the pantry room air-condition fixed, managing a team outing, or arranging vehicles for a business trip, all other teams depend on the admin department to get things done.
When you take this workflow online, create an easy form for other teams to fill out to request a service. The form can remove any chance of confusion around a vehicle request by creating a field in the form to display only the dates that are open for booking.
It’s a simple process, made smarter with the use of automation and carried with precision.
Jump on the automation bike
When you are ready to applying automation to your business processes, start with a customizable workflow management system that is simple enough for everyone to use, and inexpensive enough for you to scale up when you need to.
A cloud-based workflow app like Kissflow Workflow checks all the boxes for many of the small and medium businesses. Once you get over the initial hurdles of automating a few simple processes, creating automated workflows will come naturally to you – just like speeding off on your first solo bike ride.