What Is Workflow Automation and Why Do You Need It

What Is Workflow Automation and Why Do You Need It

Businesses are moving to automate workflows across all business processes as well as within IT. Streamlining processes and improving communication are the results.

Through workflow automation, manual tasks are replaced by computer software that performs the entire process or part of it. In today's world, workflow automation involves low-code, drag-and-drop, and user-friendly interfaces.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also included with many tools, though this isn't necessary for successful workflow automation. It is equally effective to address workflow inefficiencies and to provide easier collaboration using rule-based logic programs.

What Is Workflow Automation

Automating workflows involves making the flow of tasks, documents, and information across work-related activities independent of each other according to defined business rules. Automating this type of process should prove straightforward and a regular part of everyday productivity when it is implemented.

Workflow is the sequence of actions required for a process to be completed. Those activities are performed by software programs instead of humans under workflow automation.

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The first step in automating a workflow is to identify the tasks involved. It then creates the rules and logic governing how those tasks must be completed. Once the business rules and logic are predefined, it programs the software accordingly.

Logic and rules are often descriptions of what to do and how to go from one thing to another, in the form of if-then statements. These rules and logic are used by the software to complete the series of tasks from start to finish, eliminating the need for humans to handle the process.

How Workflow Automation Works

Business automation can save 30% of employees' time according to studies. To automate your workflows, it is always best to choose an 'all-in-one' solution that will automate both external and internal processes in a more customized and personalized manner.

A business sales team may be assigned tasks based on rotating leads for an external workflow, but an internal workflow might involve marketing campaigns or lead nurturing.

In addition to decreasing the overall cost to the business, workflow automation allows employees to avoid wasting their time completing simple daily tasks, including sending emails and following up on leads, thereby allowing them to perform more important and productive tasks.

Adding a special offer or newsletter to a landing page, for instance, could be done by sending a link via email to a potential lead. Leads will trigger your workflow automation when they receive the email and arrive at the landing page to fill out the form to avail of the offer.

From that point forward, the offer details, newsletter, etc., will be sent regularly to the lead by your workflow automation software without your intervention.

Benefits of Workflow Automation for Businesses

Organizations in the 21st century are grappling with the digital transformation challenge: how to consolidate internal and external communications dominated by email, the telephone, spreadsheets, and whiteboards.

Almost all of these task management tools rely heavily on human memory, making them ineffective for collaborating and providing visibility when workers or decision-makers need it.

Through workflow automation, organizations can greatly reduce reliance on these communications tools and trackers, allowing them to keep records of communications within relevant work tasks or within the platform itself.

Workflow automation can benefit you in these ways:

Increase Efficiency

Simplifying the task workflow by automating the internal workflow makes it easier. In addition, human touchpoints are reduced, thus increasing efficiency by performing the functions within a short period.

Improve Productivity

Automating business workflows saves teams time by eliminating repetitive tasks and the need to wait for approvals from management. This allows for tracking of processes in real-time, thereby improving productivity and performance.

Enhanced Accuracy

When humans perform tasks involving tons of data, such as repetitive tasks, it is only natural for them to make mistakes. Using workflow automation, there will be no or fewer errors, resulting in more accurate handling of consumer data.

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In case of follow-ups or status updates, workflow automation automates responses as well, improving the response time. Various teams in different departments of the organization can communicate and collaborate more effectively.

Increased Accountability

Automating workflows defines various tasks and assigns the steps each member of the team must follow. Thus, employees are held more accountable for their roles within a specific process.

Satisfaction at Work

Processes that are soul-crushing, boring, and labor-intensive can be automated, helping the manual workforce concentrate more on creative tasks that will help their skills develop. Improved workplace culture is also created by automating these processes.

Uses of Workflow Automation

Process automation is beneficial to organizations across all industries. Additionally, they can apply these technologies to various departments and business niches such as supporting DevOps workflows in the IT department.

Workflow automation can be applied in the following industries and departments:

1. Medical

To generate staff schedules and on-call rotations, healthcare providers use workflow automation. The tools are also used by providers to assist with patient admission and discharge and to transfer electronic health records. By automating these processes, healthcare workers can focus on more important tasks, such as patient care.

2. Law

Whether used within the legal industry itself or the legal function in an organization, workflow automation automates billing, inputs new client information, submits and tracks contract reviews, and manages case deadlines.

3. Information Technology

DevOps teams and other groups use automation to complement IT. In addition to orchestrating the software development pipeline, data collection, data monitoring, development of testing code, service requests, and new account setup, the software is used to deploy tests and code for deployment. DevOps teams can automate the testing of an e-commerce app, for instance.

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4. Finance

Data entry and account approval processes within financial organizations are automated using workflow automation. Enterprises also use it for automated tasks such as paying time off and adjusting salaries.

5. Marketing

Various aspects of marketing automation can be automated with workflow automation, enabling tasks associated with brand management and campaigns to be performed automatically.

6. Sales

In these departments, proposals and quotes are typically approved automatically, salespeople are introduced to leads generated by website interactions, and a task list is generated once a lead schedules a meeting with a sales representative.

7. Cybersecurity

By automating workflows, incident response times can be shortened.

8. Manufacturing

The process of workflow automation prevents business structure changes. Reducing redundancies and improving quality-control errors are two benefits of workflow automation.

Process automation specifically reduces the cycle times for purchasing, budgeting, and supply chain approvals. Automation of manufacturing workflows can improve purchase requests, contract management, and even go-to-market product development.

9. HR

Automating employee onboarding and offboarding, timesheet approval, and management of personnel changes facilitates various HR processes.

10. Systems Management

The IT as a service (ITaaS) model enables managed cloud services for enterprise businesses, including workflow programming.

Using workflow automation software, business networks are configured, deployed, and monitored from one central location.

Software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) and software-defined networking (SDN) are two different IT network management systems whose workflow automation allows for easier integration. Managing these systems in real-time becomes much easier with workflow automation.

How to Build an Automated Workflow

Consider the following steps when automating your business's task and process workflow:

1. Recognize Repetitive Tasks

Before automating your business's workflow, prioritize the various processes. Your plan will be based on this. Sort the activities into strategies that can be fully automated, like repetitive tasks that need minimal intervention and those that require human interaction. Don't forget to consider your company's goals here.

2. Draw a Workflow Diagram

Based on the list of priorities above, draw a workflow diagram. As a result, you can easily visualize each step of the workflow and receive useful feedback from the teams. Ensure that all stakeholders can easily understand your workflow diagram by using standard symbols and terminology.

3. Develop & Implement the Workflow

Workflows can be easily automated by adding and sorting tasks using simple drag-and-drop tools. Simple automation software can assist with this.

4. Try It out & Train Your staff

The testing process is crucial to understanding if the automation is successful or not. It is possible to implement User Acceptance Testing (UAT) cycles to identify the bugs or problems.

The existing staff must also be trained to run workflow software. They can resist a sudden transition from manual to automated workflows. Incorporate their feedback into the decision-making process when they are trained on the new automated system.

5. Track Key Performance Indicators

You can improve the workflow by analyzing the workflow data. With continuous performance analysis and workforce feedback, you will know what went right and what went wrong. By doing so, you can improve productivity.

What to Look for in Workflow Automation Tools

The workflow automation software market offers a wide variety of options. While some solutions apply to any organization, others are geared towards specific needs.

No matter what your situation is, you want workflow automation software that is flexible, fast and meets your needs. To identify the essentials of workflow automation software, here's a quick checklist:

  • Simplicity: Automation is supposed to simplify things, so the product itself should be intuitive. You should look for no-code solutions, drag-and-drop designers, and friendly UIs.
  • Ability to use the Cloud: It is usually easier to maintain and operate cloud-based workflow automation tools than on-premise versions. Accessibility, security, and scalability are other benefits.
  • Integration across Systems: Most cloud-based programs are interoperable with other cloud applications. You can use Zapier to automate your workflows.
  • Flexible Features: All businesses are different, and so are their processes. Workflow automation software should be able to handle complex cases like multiple branches and conditional steps.
  • Analytics: No process can be improved without review. Software tools that automate workflows provide data-driven reporting to track progress, analyze problems, and make improvements.
  • Mobile Abilities: In today's world, workflow automation software should be accessible from any location and on any device. Ensure that users on the go can access notifications and approvals with the tool.
  • Affordable Pricing: Installation of workflow automation software often costs tens of thousands of dollars, not including implementation and consulting. Cloud-based pricing is easier to predict.

What the Future Holds for Workflow Automation

Startups that offer workflow automation are also providing standardized processes for approvals, and integrating APIs for data syncing across applications.

Significantly, the design shift emphasizes low-code workflow automation, which enables decision-makers and direct collaborators to create and deploy workflows. By moving away from top-down systems and to symmetrical, collaborative ones, organizations can improve processes more rapidly.

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AI becomes an integral part of workflow automation in the enterprise as well. Through AI-powered automation, companies can analyze data patterns and apply machine learning to improve processes based on predictive analysis.

As one of the last manual processes yet to be automated, network administration is considered to be one of the most transformative solutions in the IT ecosystem.

IT's ability to control and navigate network issues will be improved with workflow automation software coming to market today. Creating and meditating workflows across IT networks will be made easier with visual workflows.

Businesses can also turn to templates for workflow automation, which can be used as a building block for future automation, and integrated with pre-existing workflow automation.

Final Words

All processes require a workflow to complete them. The manual nature of many workflows, however, is time-consuming, error-prone, and costly. You can think of it as adding a bunch of rocks to your row of dominoes. Automated workflows remove rocks and provide a superior kinetic force that is swift, accurate, and relatively cheap.

Workflow automation is essential for businesses that want to grow and scale efficiently. When you automate manual tasks, you can effectively grow your business without going through any growing pains.

Automating workflows makes businesses more efficient, saves time and money, and minimizes the chances of errors. Automating workflows has numerous advantages for businesses.

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