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You pay your employees for the time and expertise they provide your organization. But without an effective workflow automation software, you don’t give them enough time in the day for that expertise to be properly utilized.
That’s because they’re likely stuck in front of their computer screen, copying and pasting data, or following a hefty string of email threads to find what they need to complete a specific task.
This cannot only lead to unengaged employees and unmet deadlines, but also increased operational costs and inefficient processes. Effective workflow automation can solve this problem. Software designed to spot recurring work and help you automate it is exactly what you need to ensure you run streamlined workflows.
Us at Process Street have one thing that constantly runs around our mind: How can we make work fast, faultless, and fun? We’ve found the answer is workflow automation, and we’re always searching for how we can use this automation to make our process as efficient as possible. We’ve put together this guide to help you do the same.
You might wonder if workflow automation is something your business needs. Here are some signs that you could greatly benefit from investing in workflow automation tools:
Data entry consists of a series of copy and pasting. It’s a petty time-waster and clear sign that workflow automation is needed. Your employees are likely spending 520 hours each year on work that could be automated. That’s a ton of resources down the drain!
Not to mention, with these tedious tasks comes a lack of focus and provides the perfect opportunity for your employees to make mistakes. This recurring data entry can lead to informationloss, incorrect input, and can even cause a compromise to your data security.
Automation can free you from manually entering data if the information transfer process is consistent. This will result in saved time, money, and let your employees focus on work that really matters.
Clients are likely to stop purchasing if a business has poor customer service. Approximately 80% of customers want a response within 5 minutes when they contact a company, regardless of the communication channel.
It’s easy to see how not fulfilling these expectations can have a negative impact on your customer satisfaction. The threat of customer churn then increases when satisfaction declines.
However, automation software can help quicken your response rates. With an effective automation software, you can integrate with different work apps to create a more centralized customer support tool. For example, you could link Slack with your workflow automation software to send notifications when you have a new support ticket. That ensures no inquiry gets lost.
Have you noticed that your employees struggle to get their work completed by a set deadline? Work can quickly pile up, especially if you’re not providing the right tools.
In most cases, your workforce is likely struggling because their workflow lacks efficiency. The process they need to follow doesn’t provide clear guidance. Or you might not even have a process in place for this work. If that is the case, there’s a lack of expectation and clarity around what work needs to be done, how it should be done, and when it should be done.
All these factors can lead to your workforce feeling overwhelmed. Automation software empowers you to map out these processes and see what tasks don’t require manual effort. From here, you can automate this recurring work and provide more time to get higher-value tasks done.
Workflows need to be automated as much as possible. If you’re not adding these automations, you’re missing out on faster operations, reduced errors, and increased efficiency.
But workflow automation is vital for other reasons, too. These include:
Automation relieves your workers from completing low-value and mundane tasks. This gives them more time to work on non-automated and higher-value tasks.
By investing in workflow automation, you increase productivity. Because your business operations run more efficiently with workflow automation, you save money and resources.
You need to map out your workflows before you can program any automation. This workflow mapping provides a business with a bird’s eye view of their workflows, which helps to remove any redundant or outdated work.
With the increased visibility provided from workflow mapping, you encourage interdepartmental and employee coordination. This helps improve communication within the organization, which further increases efficiency.
When you use workflow automation software, you digitalize the tasks in your workflow. Your workflows can then be easily tracked from start to finish. This makes for straightforward and prompt reviews regarding your business operations.
Your documented workflows help you automate recurring tasks. This overall efficiency empowers you to follow consistant processes when producing your products. As a result, your product quality is increased.
Your organization betters customer service when automated responses are set up for customer inquiries. This increases customer satisfaction and reduces the workload placed on customer support teams.
You’re likely a candidate for workflow automation software if you answer yes to any of these questions:
You might already realize that workflow automation software is right for you. Now’s the next challenge: How can you find the right software tool for your specific organization?
Here are four questions you should ask yourself before you settle on a workflow automation software tool:
The most common answer to this question is increased efficiency. You likely want to accomplish more without using as many resources. Automated workflows provide adherence and more accurate data to your business processes.
This can also help you with scalability. Otherwise, you might want to manage work in a way that considers remote work. That could look like using electronic signatures to eliminate the need to distribute physical documents.
Whatever you wish to accomplish, you want to make sure that this desired result can come from using a workflow automation software.
You need to examine what you’re doing now. It’s vital to detail what your current process looks like as you can then define the requirements you would need to get from point A (what you’re doing now) to point B (what you wish to accomplish).
The best way to do this is to map out the current steps of your process and highlight points where automation can be included. Your goal should be to detail what work is being done. Reach out to people who are actually doing the work to get a better understanding of the process. Oftentimes a process doesn’t outline the work that’s currently being done.
Now that you understand what you want to achieve and where you are now, you can see what it will take to get you there. From here, you can easily gauge what the cost is likely to be. You want to budget for this investment efficiently.
Otherwise, you can pick a more costly software tool that won’t deliver on exactly what you’re needing. This will only result in a poor return on investment.
Look at what features you’d need to achieve what you’ve detailed in question one. Your desired features should be included in a workflow automation tool that fits within your budget.
It’s important to measure the success of workflow automation for your future business operations. A metric goal could be a great way to measure how successful your automation efforts are. Even if you didn’t achieve your desired result, you want to identify why this outcome wasn’t reached. You can learn from these mistakes or find that the chosen software isn’t suitable.
Here are some of the must-have features when you search for a workflow automation software tool:
You want to use a workflow automation tool that is equipped with an easy-to-use interface. Intuitive technology is a must when it comes to workflow automation as it helps you master this platform.
Such an intuitive design also provides more agile features that empower you to make quick iterations like edit and preview capabilities. No-code platforms are typically the definition of an intuitive design and provide a drag-and-drop type form builder.
Workflow automation that can monitor your processes for bottlenecks, approvals, updates, and overdue work is incredibly valuable. Not only does this tracking feature make sure nothing slips through the cracks, but it also offers a strong indication on how future work should be done. This tracking can then help you make more informed decisions.
Data security breaches are common nowadays. That’s why it’s vital to ensure your workflow automation software is equipped with key security features. You only want to consider workflow automation tools that have browser security, password protections, and data encryption.
You want a tool that goes beyond its in-house automation capabilities. That means it provides powerful integrations. You want a tool that can connect with other work platforms to help put and send data wherever it needs to go. This includes linking your workflow automation software to tools like Google Spreadsheets, MailChimp, or Salesforce.
You want the work you’re doing to run smoothly. That means mapping out your workflow to see where automation can be applied. But you also want a tool that also accounts for work that can’t be automated. In this case, your workflow automation software should send notifications or alerts to the responsible people within a specific workflow.
For example, in-app and email notifications can be sent out when a step in a workflow needs approval, is awaiting review/approval, is ready for the assigned user to complete, or is overdue. This alert and reporting functionality can help you and your team stay ontop of their work.
Automation isn’t only about seeing what tasks are recurring and taking action. It’s also about streamlining the accountability of your workflow. Your desired workflow automation software should provide you with control functionality to assign the right people to each task. This ensures no repeat work is done by multiple employees and holds everyone accountable.
Before deciding on a workflow automation software vendor, you want to pay close attention to the capabilities of each vendor. You want to select a vendor that is:
Here are our top 5 tips to help you get the most our of your workflow automation software:
This tip is straightforward but it’s the starting point to getting the most out of your software. Don’t go buy a piece of software simply because it’s the first one you found or is the cheapest.
You shouldn’t take picking a software tool lightly. Determine exactly what you need and how much you want to spend on it. It will be impossible to get the most out your chosen software if it’s one that doesn’t cater to your business’s needs.
Before you can implement a piece of workflow automation software, you need to ensure you’re picking a tool that will help you achieve your goals. The automation system you ultimately choose needs to solve your common organizational challenges.
The first step you’ll need to take is to identify challenges you might be facing, such as:
Once you’ve highlighted what your common challenges are, you can start formulating a workflow automation strategy.
Now that you’ve created a workflow automation strategy that will provide guidance to your new automation system, you need to identify how you will measure success. Like with most software, you want to set objectives for your workflow automation tool. This will help you see how much of a return you’re getting from your investment in the system.
Here are some examples of measurable goals you could consider:
You want to ensure that the goals you set are attainable, measurable, and specific. This will be the only way to know whether your workflow automation strategy is successful or if adjustments are needed.
You’ve picked the right software, identified your company challenges, and set realistic goals. What now? You need to monitor your efforts. Most effective workflow automation tools are equipped with a reporting dashboard to keep track of what’s happening with your business processes. Use this data to make informed decisions and see if tweaks need to be made.
Even through your new system will be used by everyone, you need someone who’s in charge of its successful management. Depending on how many departments use the workflow automation system, you might want to delegate its management to team/department leaders.
When you’ve got the right workflow automation software in place, you save you and your employees tons of time. That’s because they no longer have to do work that’s repetitive, tedious, and can easily be done by a computer.
The days of tedious data entry will be over when an effective workflow automation system is put in place. Your employees will thank you by being more productive, which leads to lower operational costs, fewer mistakes, and better process success. That’s how good workflow automation software can help your business get more for less.