October 7th, 2018 • Workflow Automation
As a CEO of a small business, you are always looking for ways to streamline activities in your organization through several initiatives such as setting up processes, considering a workflow automation software and many such initiatives that would help you grow faster.
Workflow automation uses defined business process workflows to automate tasks in common business processes. It uses rule-based logic and automation technology to run a sequence of tasks, routing data as defined by the workflow. Automating workflows boosts efficiency and productivity, and eliminates the manual error.
Whether it be reducing costs or just meeting customer demands faster, anything that moves things along is a good thing.
You’ve probably had your eye on workflow automation for some time now. It’s fun, effective, and you know it will help your office get the right foundation.
But which process should you start with? How do you know when a workflow is ready for business process automation? To get the most out of automation, it’s important to automate the right set of processes that will justify your investment of time and money.
Probably the most important key to successfully introducing an automated workflow to your company is choosing the right process. Choose the right one and you can convince your whole company that automation is the key to the future. Choose the wrong one and it may be years before you can try it again.
One of the biggest challenges in automation is the lack of standardization. Trying to automate a process that itself is unstructured is like nailing jello to a wall.
When you are looking for a first process, identify something where the workflow rules are pretty set already and there aren’t too many exceptions to handle. If it is hard to get a clear rule on how a process should function, you should probably give it back over to your team for them to rethink it, even from a manual perspective.
Having a paper form for a process like a travel reimbursement is actually a great sign that the process can be automated. It shows that someone has clearly thought out all the data that needs to be included to complete a request.
As you start automating the form, think about the types of fields you will need. Attachments? Dropdowns? Date and time fields? Most online form builders these days include a wide variety of field types that will allow you to create a form that is even better than what you already have. Your workflow automation software should be able to give you an enhanced version of your paper form that can even auto-populate common fields.
A major hazard to any business process is miscommunication, as it derails the whole process. For instance, in your marketing budget approval process, an analyst attaches the budget plan in an email and sends it to the marketing head. But your marketing head’s email inbox is already overflowing and she never sees the email. Then, in later meetings, there is a lot of miscommunication about what was agreed on.
Automation can really help in these communication errors because it enables each request to sit separately on a universal dashboard that shows everything that needs to be done.
Accountability is a critical factor to improve the efficiency of the team and the process as well. However, when it comes to automating a process, it is essential that each task in the process has an owner. When the workflow is managed manually, it’s a cumbersome task to hold someone accountable for every step, due to issues like buck-passing, scapegoating, etc. This is another important tip-off that an automated workflow is the only way to resolve the accountability hassle.
To ensure that the process is heading towards achieving your goals, you need to be able to see the status of any request at any time. In a manual process, this is almost impossible without asking a lot of people questions and waiting for them to find the data.
In an automated workflow system, you can see the status of any item and how long it will take to complete. Managers will be able to do their job well, as there is a greater increase in visibility into the process.
If you have a process that meets all of these tests, then you have one that is ready for automation! Start building your first with Kissflow process platform and see how easy it is to bring automation to your office!