All You Need To Know About Workflow Automation

workflow automation

All kinds of organizations often struggle with repetitive administrative tasks. There are always those tasks required to achieve your business’s objectives yet are very time-consuming to execute. 

So, is there a way to avoid these repetitive and often redundant processes? There is, and it’s called, workflow automation

Workflow automation allows organizations to leverage technology to optimize, streamline, and automate their workflows. In this post, we’ll discuss all you need to know about it: the concept of workflow automation, why it matters, and how your business can start implementing workflow automation right away. 

What Is Workflow Automation?

Simply put, workflow automation uses technology (software, tools, or even physical equipment) to automate workflows. 

On the other hand, a workflow can be defined as a set of tasks or actions that, when executed, will achieve a specific business objective. 

However, before a workflow is automated, it must be streamlined and optimized to ensure it’s already as efficient as possible. Automating inefficient workflow will be counterproductive since it will only amplify the inefficiencies. 

Any workflows, from straightforward ones to very complex ones, technically can be automated, provided you have the right tools or technologies to do so. So, we can implement workflow automation in many different ways and for many different purposes.

Automation is typically implemented on relatively simple and repetitive tasks that are otherwise too time-consuming to be executed by human employees. 

Benefits of Workflow Automation

We automate a workflow to partially or fully eliminate human involvements in a workflow, which in turn, can produce the following benefits: 

1. Standardize the workflow execution

By reducing or eliminating human involvement, we can radically reduce the risk of human error, ensuring a standardized workflow execution since automation will ensure that the same steps will always be followed in the same order.

In the long run, consistent business processes will provide predictability and fewer mistakes for your business. You can maintain the integrity of data throughout the workflow and control the results. 

2. Reduce bottlenecks in human collaborations

We all know how difficult it is to ensure efficient communication and collaboration between different people, yet most workflows typically involve multiple stakeholders. 

The inefficient collaboration will naturally cause bottlenecks and delays. For example, if someone in the team forgets to fulfill their task, it may slow down other team members’ contributions. 

Automation can effectively eliminate this issue by replacing parts, if not all of the required tasks in a workflow that involves human collaboration. 

3. Improve communication and collaboration

Workflow automation will eliminate bottlenecks caused by human collaboration and improve the quality of your team’s communication and collaboration.

By automating your workflows, you no longer need to rely on inefficient communication methods like emails, phone calls, or even hallway conversations to notify another theme member that it’s now their turn to execute the next step in the workflow. 

Instead, with workflow automation in place, the workflow’s stakeholders can get automatic notifications and updates as the workflow progresses.

4. Save your team’s valuable time

Automating repetitive administrative tasks will allow yourself and your team to focus on tasks that align more to their core competencies. In turn, they can offer more contributions to achieving the organization’s objectives rather than using their time on manual administrative tasks. 

By relieving your team from repetitive and tedious tasks, you can also improve their morale and productivity, lowering your turnover rate. 

5. Improve transparency and accountability

A critical step of implementing workflow automation is to visualize the workflow in a workflow diagram accurately. This allows an easier time to monitor the workflow’s execution, progress against its intended objectives, and especially who is responsible for performing a required task.

All of these will improve operational transparency and accountability for all stakeholders involved in the workflow, which can improve the business’s productivity and competitiveness. 

How To Implement Workflow Automation

We can implement workflow automation with the help of activity-based workflow management software (e.g., Aproove) by following these steps: 

Step 1: Mapping the workflow

As briefly mentioned above, a key step of automating a workflow is to develop an accurate visual representation of the workflow you’d like to automate. A comprehensive workflow automation solution like Aproove will provide a workflow builder tool so you can easily create a workflow diagram.

A workflow diagram is crucial to ensure the workflow’s execution and ensure the workflow is already optimal and efficient. 

Step 2: Identify automation requirements

Identify the needs of stakeholders involved in the workflow and the purpose of automating the workflow. 

This step is about data gathering. You can observe how the workflow is manually executed, conduct surveys/interviews with the workflow’s stakeholders, or use other approaches to gather as much information as you can about the workflow. 

This step aims to identify the requirements of how the workflow should be optimized and automated. 

Step 3: Setting up workflow automation software

Once you’ve identified the automation requirements, the next step is to set up your workflow automation solution based on the defined rules and policies. 

Depending on the workflow’s type and/or complexity, you may need additional technology solutions to implement automation. 

Step 4: Test and deploy workflow automation

It’s essential to test all the different elements of the automated workflow before fully deploying it to avoid any errors or inaccuracies. 

It would help if you also involved stakeholders and team members who will actively use the workflow to test the automated workflow to spot potential issues before launch. Once the automated workflow has been adequately tested, you can deploy it. 

Step 5: Monitoring and evaluation

Evaluate the newly automated workflow’s performance by comparing performance before and after the automation has been implemented. 

For example, compare the average time it takes to complete the workflow before and after the automation and the error rate. 

Closing Thoughts

Implementing workflow automation can streamline your process workflows, reduce human errors, and ultimately improve your business’s efficiency and productivity. A key rule in automating a workflow is to ensure the workflow is already optimal and efficient, or it will only amplify inefficiencies. 

By following the tips and step-by-step guide we’ve shared above, you can start implementing automation to your workflows in no time.

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