Workflow automation refers to the use of software to complete repetitive tasks that were traditionally carried out by humans. Automation has been part of the manufacturing segment for a long-time, aiding companies globally to build a robust economy that fulfilled the supply for the rising consumption. However, sales and service departments, education, healthcare, and many other critical sectors have embraced workflow automation quite recently.
When processes are automated, simple and mundane tasks are carried out through robotic process automation or RPA, a tool that completes the work faster and more efficiently. The need for manual hours and related human errors reduces with consistent quality. Workflow automation leads to a well-orchestrated process that is on an auto-pilot.
Tasks for automation
Automation is either robotic or AI-driven intelligence. For simple yet time-consuming manual tasks, robotic process automation is used. For critical decisions that need analysis and risk-adjusted decision-making skills, AI-driven intelligence automation is used. Some workflows may have RPA and AI requirements, and the algorithm is set accordingly.
Examples of automation
- Workload distribution between collaborators by volume, time, criteria
- Diarising the calendar events invites and reminders are sent
- Emails are sent for reminders, customer engagement, brand promotion, etc
- Work is assigned through productivity tools
- Whenever there is a change in the status of the task, notifications appear in the productivity tools platform and emails are sent as a follow-up
- Alerts are triggered to remind the deadlines or when tasks are overdue
- Messages are delivered through SMS, Whatsapp, Slack, or other messaging platforms
- Documents are stored in a central depository and can be accessed through share transfer through automated file transfers
- Communication-related tasks are featured alongside the description of a task for all collaborators to see
- Data is synchronized whenever a new form is filled, a task is completed, or an email is received or sent
- Data metrics and dashboards with recommendations for the next call for action in the workflow
Workflow management systems can be integrated with third-party applications, business intelligence, productivity tools, and enterprise software for a seamless solution without any hurdles.
Here are some of the advantages of automating the workflows:
- Productivity improves
Automation delivers higher productivity as machines don’t get tired or take a break. Employees can use the saved time to strategize for tasks where human interaction is necessary.
- Clear forecast
Business intelligence forecasts all the sensitivity variables more accurately and maps out the possibilities. If there are overcast skies in the foreseeable future strategic decisions can be taken to avoid mishaps and avert losses. Likewise, opportunities are cited beforehand, and the company is prepared to use its arsenal to use it to its advantage.
Automation can detect process lapses way ahead and forewarn through alerts and recommendations for aversion. The corrective course of steps is taken to refract away from turbulence and land as safely as possible. For instance, the automated accounts payable will let the process know about any likely delays from regular customers. In this regard, while maintaining in view the long-standing relationships, soft reminders to pay or negotiate a new payment plan can be worked out to cover the risk of waiting for a longer period.
With automation, fewer resources are wasted, and the entire process is faster and less expensive in comparison to a manual one where there can be human errors.
- Communication and Collaboration
With better and real-time channels of communication team members are more cohesive when they are collaborating on a given task. All the notification alerts are real-time, and team members don’t slack out as everyone gets to know what is happening. So there is no room for disguised unemployment or free riders as everything is recorded and transparent, unlike singular email communication.
Automation does not take the workforce out of a process. It just improves efficiency and leaves enough time at hand for people to focus on human-centric tasks that are essential in building trust, goodwill, and long-term customer relations.
Workflow automation management is easy to integrate with existing enterprise software and other third-party business applications like productivity tools. Any small new business can start with automating core workflows like order, vendor, and cash management before automating rest post growth and new scales.