Workflow automation being the buzzword globally, is one of the most discussed topics today. Still, there’s a lot that you may have not noticed or found confusing about it, or wanted to know more about, like the operational efficiency of automating processes.
To help you with all such question marks, in simple words, automation refers to creating a perfect process with tailor made features to meet one’s business goals. Let’s understand it this way.
When you are standing at the crossroads, where:
- One is a tough terrain that requires unnecessary hard work and leads to an error-filled result, and
- The other is a smoothly flowing stream that leads to the valley of spot-on results.
Which way will you go? A smart business leader (and virtually anybody) will choose the latter, not just for himself/herself but for the entirety of the corporation.
That’s the origin of workflow automation.
Business operations and workflow tasks that are otherwise nominal – most see them as a customary formal arrangement. But these tasks consume a huge chunk of time and effort at the workplace. A survey done by Adobe found that employees were spending an average cumulative total of 20 weeks a year just on sending and reading emails.
How can any business spending this much on communication alone achieve efficiency, or even maintain productivity levels?
Business process management is a solution to this deriding problem of repetitive tasks at workplaces. It takes charge of most of the tasks, addresses them with sophistication and accuracy, and saves businesses time and money.
Sounds too good to be true?
Through this blog post, you will see why workflow automation is the talk of the town, and why it has become exceedingly important in today’s work culture. Read on.
What Exactly is Workflow Automation?
Think about everything you do in a day as a business.
There are probably hundreds of different tasks that your business takes up to fruition every day. These tasks range from replying to a client to resource allocation, to sending out invoices and going for dinner with your hottest prospect.
Managing all this isn’t exactly a cakewalk. On top of that, certain tasks are repetitive.
Business process management is a way of automating the flow of your daily operations. Instead of setting up each individual task every day with automated tasks, you define a set of rules. These rules include the flow of work for your business, and what exactly each task demands. Once this is done, these tasks are performed independently, without human intervention across your entire work(space) with spot-on accuracy.
As it goes with all business processes, some tasks are easy while others are tough and require complete precision. All these tasks can be included in your process management. The system will then run them accurately and efficiently every day without getting a headache.
Now, there is an air of confusion that surrounds process management and how businesses can leverage upon it.
The truth is, all businesses are somehow using workflow without even knowing it, either through their network or their service providers or in some department or the other. The need for process management and its subsequent existence is extremely organic.
And no matter what industry your business is a part of, documentation and invoicing are just a few of those things that matter across all industries. Similarly, customer support, lead generation, management, resource allocation, etc. are all a few aspects of your workflow that you can easily automate.
The Importance of Business Process Management
Business process management doesn’t just briefly summarize tasks, but it makes sure that they happen according to the rules defined by your business. For example, if you want to approve an invoice multiple times from different managers, you can set up an automation that does it for you.
There is no limitation on what you can achieve and do with process management. You can instruct a software to automate tasks any which way you deem fit. It can help you:
- Process any task that is rule based
- Save time and effort spent on small tasks
- Set up a platform for increased productivity
- Do more without spending more
- Ensure better quality and standards
- Get instructions across with detailed documentation and written procedures.
Managers are enabled with tracking and supervision abilities through the network. Instead of checking up on each individual, managers can instantly check the progress of a task or a project.
- Manage & track progress and performance
Process management ensures you are compliant at all stages of a process lifecycle. Since it is rule based, it can easily ensure that your business is policy compliant at every step of the way. Thanks to consistent and continuous process tracking, audit trails become super easy. Workflow automation digitizes your entire business, and gives you the 20-20 vision in the moment.
Setting Up Workflow Automation
To set up a workflow automation process for your business, you need to be ready with a few things. Since workflow automation requires a clear objective and requires you to be focused throughout the setup to ensure a healthy and efficient automated workflow.
First things first, you need to identify and isolate a process that is rule based and repetitive.
To identify a process that can be automated, you need to ensure that the said process requires no changes whatsoever. Therefore, don’t start off with a new task or process. Pick a tried and tested task that is being repeated time and again with the same set of rules.
With that done, you need to consult the teams surrounding that task. Maybe they don’t even want it to be automated, for some reason. Even though the task is repetitive, maybe it is linked to many other tasks. And once you automate it, the team might seek some data. Or further, maybe a group of tasks along with this single process could also be done better with automation.
Keeping this in mind, let’s look at the next step.
Why are you automating this task?
Define clear goals as to what you seek with this particular workflow automation. Is the task extremely tedious or does it require an exactness of execution or accuracy in result? Maybe, the task is wasting valuable time, so you seek to save time.
Whatever it is, clearly define your goals. This will help you set up the workflow automation better and inline with your goals.
Now, sit with your team and design a rough workflow.
This team has been time and again managing and performing this task. They know all the details of it, all the nitty gritties, that you as a manager might not know. So, discuss with your team all the aspects of this task. Including the exact workflow, and how they will function around it.
This is an extremely crucial step, because once you set up the workflow, it’s the team that will deal directly with it. So, make sure you handhold them through this process.
With a workflow automation software or tool, now you can begin to design the workflow.
Firstly, you create the workflow form, define it, set up all the rules and access control. Ensure you are adding the point of contact and stakeholders for each step or rule and maintaining a backchannel in case of a failure (during the testing stages).
Once you have the workflow up and running, give it some time to function and process your tasks. And keep a check on it with your team for a certain period. If your workflow is running fine and requires no modifications, then you can officially include it as part of your overall workflow.
Or else, get in touch with your team and the workflow management software’s team to set up a better solution. Usually, this process is fairly easy, and you shouldn’t face any problems. However, giving a filler period of time is always helpful.
If you are all set, you can now measure the results!
The sole purpose of setting up the automation software is to ensure that you achieve your goals. Get those reports out and running. Measure all the parameters very carefully including your ROI and KPIs. Directly, or indirectly, business process management is a set-up to help you improve your overall business functions.
Recheck your goals with the analytics and data post usage and then expand the workflow automation to other tasks!client managementclient onboardingcrmtime trackingworkflow management system