Meaning, benefits and examples of workflow automation across organizations
What is workflow automation?
Workflow automation is a tool that defines a series of tasks based on a process and automatically acts on those tasks without the need for human intervention or manual steps. Organisations implement workflow automation as a solution to repetitive work that bogs down employees like data entry, invoice approval or task assignment.
Departmental tasks that can be automated include:
- Accounts payable: Capturing, reviewing and approving invoices, and processing payments
- Human resources: Onboarding new employees, reviewing job applications, responding to job applicants and generating HR documents
- Sales: Building lists, generating reports and following up through email
- IT: Assigning tickets and tasks to team members, managing IT assets and controlling access
How to automate workflow: steps to take
- Identify tasks that can be automated. These are straightforward conditions that are triggered by certain scenarios; repetitive and predictable actions; and steps that hold up the process if not actioned on.
- Define the outcomes of automation. What problems are you trying to solve by automating workflow? Set quantifiable goals like increase in turnaround time or cost savings that you can measure for performance.
- Instill change management. Get your team onboard by clearly articulating the benefits of workflow automation and encouraging stakeholders to be involved in process improvements and feedback.
- Implement workflow automation software. Choose a solution that fits your business needs and can be scaled for expansion to other processes and departments. You also want to consider the ease of configuring workflows, cloud operability, integration with existing systems and mobile access.
- Measure performance. Finally, keep monitoring and measuring to see if automation has helped your business improve based on earlier defined outcomes. Reports and data analytics can help you make informed decisions to identify what can be further optimised in the process.
Benefits of workflow automation
The benefits of workflow automation lie in its ability to streamline processes and improve efficiency. Workflow automation allows you to:
- Create a clear workflow and process. This avoids confusion among team members when they have full visibility into the process and results in a more efficient workflow. It eliminates the need for back and forth communication to check on status updates.
- Centralise all information in one place. An automated workflow integrates with your existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and other platforms so employees can access relevant information from one location.
- Create accountability. The relevant person at each stage of the workflow will be automatically notified with the necessary documents to avoid missed out or delayed tasks. Managers can then spend less time micromanaging, focusing instead on strategic planning and problem-solving.
- Promote growth. Automating tasks eliminate bottlenecks and redundancies in work processes. This frees up your employees’ time and resources, which they can spend on meeting new demands.
- Improve security and compliance. All actions and activity can be tracked in the process. By enforcing consistent business practices as part of the workflow, process variance and associated risks can be reduced.
- Improve collaboration. Employees can work collaboratively instead of in isolation on mundane and routine tasks, creating higher value for their organisation. When employees feel more fulfilled at work, it increases job satisfaction and retention.
To learn more about how to automate workflow to benefit your business, contact us.