Workflow automation has been a major buzzword in recent years, with many claiming that automating your workflow can significantly improve your business’s efficiencies and improve your ROI.
But what is workflow automation?
Workflow Automation: Key Concept
Simply put, workflow automation is a series of automated steps required to fulfill a business process. On the other hand, the business process is repeatable in a business to achieve a specific objective. When we automate these steps, it can improve the business process’ efficiency while letting your team perform other tasks that can provide more value to the business.
In practice, workflow automation automates the tasks in a business process by utilizing technologies like apps and software solutions. For example, instead of having your employee send a relatively simple follow-up email, we can use an email automation solution to send it automatically.
By switching any manual task to an automated workflow, we can save time and resources by not having a human performing the action, thus reducing human errors.
In short, implementing workflow automation can improve various areas of the business processes, including but not limited to:
Time efficiency, you can meet your deadlines at a faster rate.
Team’s morale. Nobody likes performing repetitive administrative tasks, and if workflow automation can help in this case, the employees will be happier.
Accuracy in data input. It’s no secret that human errors are often the culprit for data errors and inaccuracy.
Overall productivity. Your team spends their valuable time on high-value tasks that matter.
Cost-efficiency. By ensuring a more effective and efficient workflow, we can ensure that work and projects stay on budget to improve profitability while minimizing labor costs.
In short, workflow automation can help generate more money for your business, allowing your business to produce more while keeping your employees happy and satisfied.
Workflow Automation: Practice and Key Benefits
Almost every department in your business can benefit from having workflow automation in place, for example:
Marketing often involves many repetitive but straightforward tasks in its day-to-day activities, such as sending follow-up emails, marketing approval processes, social media posts, etc. Workflow automation can help automate these repetitive tasks, and there are various marketing automation solutions available today to help us do the job.
Finance and Accounting
Data input is essential for the accounting and finance departments, and workflow automation can help automate these repetitive tasks, such as automatically using templates or building forms from scratch, automatically processing and sending invoices, checking and processing reimbursements, and budget approvals, and so on.
For the HR department, workflow automation can help automate processes like the inputting of personal information for a new employee and automatically processing repetitive tasks like payroll, tracking expenses, insurance systems, etc. There is various HR automation software available in the market today.
How to Automate Workflow
While workflow automation processes might vary depending on the tasks and business processes, here are the typical required steps:
Identify a repetitive process: in this step, you should check whether the repetitive task could be automated and whether the automation is going to be reliable. Don’t forget to ask your key personnel whether automating this task would receive a rejection from the team.
Define your objective: what is the aim of automating this specific task? It can be improved time efficiency, improved ROI, etc.
Introduce and educate: communicate the benefits of implementing automation to your key stakeholders. Successful workflow automation depends on the participation of these stakeholders.
Design workflow automation: build the automation process using workflow management software (discussed below).
Measure performance: check whether the implementation of the automation produces positive effects on the business process.
Choosing a Workflow Automation Software
Workflow automation is managed through workflow automation software. Some of these are specific for a particular niche, department, or even certain task (i.e., email automation). Still, there are also solutions like Aproove that can get applied in any business process.
With so many different options available in the market, choosing the right one for your business can be difficult. Yet, here are some important considerations:
Ease of Use
Remember that the purpose of workflow automation in the first place is to make things more streamlined and straightforward, so don’t add to the complexity by choosing a software solution that is hard to use. You might need to train your team/employees in using this solution, so if it’s a hard-to-use software, you are asking for a major headache.
Check whether the product offers a user-friendly interface, and a visual builder offering drag-and-drop editing is preferred. Check whether the software manufacturer has a resource page where you can get answers/troubleshooting.
You’d want a solution that offers integration with your existing infrastructure, as well as other solutions you plan to get in the future. Check whether the workflow automation solution offers API and integration with major solutions.
A cloud-based solution is preferred so anyone (with the right credential) can access the workflow management solution anywhere, anytime. This can help when you need to onboard a new employee with a new device, so you don’t need to install the software first and help in situations where clients need to access the software. Don’t forget to check whether the solution offers reliable security measures and scalability features.
Since your business processes are unique, you will make your personalizations and customizations to the workflow automation. Make sure this can be done easily and make sure it can fulfill your needs depending on your business processes' complexity. If, for example, your business process involves using conditional steps, then make sure your workflow management solution supports this feature.
Make sure the software is mobile-responsive, or at least offer a usable mobile version of their software. This is useful in use cases like approvals or emergencies where stakeholders can easily receive notifications on their smartphones and take the necessary actions right away.
The end goal here is to improve your workflow's efficiency, and you can’t improve something you can’t monitor. Make sure that the software solutions offer at least basic analytics and reporting features so you can monitor tasks and make the necessary adjustments.
Fairly obvious, the software’s costs must meet your budget. However, it would help if you considered whether the software solution offers useful features where more expensive price tags are justified. For example, if a particular solution is more costly but automates a certain task that is important for your business process, it might be a justifiable investment.
Workflow automation can provide many different benefits to your business processes, from improving efficiency and effectiveness, keeping your staff happy and satisfied, and ultimately saving money and maximizing ROI.
Using workflow automation software by Aproove can make the process of implementing workflow automation much easier than ever. It has a simple but intuitive interface so everyone in your team can start building their workflows seamlessly while also offering powerful automation features to help you create an effective and efficient workflow.