Workflow Automation: Definition and Examples

Workflow Automation: Definition and Examples
Vlad Kovalskiy
October 18, 2021
Last updated: October 18, 2021

Workflow automation is a feature that everyone from senior management to regular employees can sincerely enjoy. CEOs, CFOs, and COOs can appreciate saving such valuable resources as time and money.

Plus, they have more opportunities to concentrate on planning and making strategic decisions instead of manually dealing with a plethora of reports and spreadsheets. All while common staff members can delegate entering numbers, generating requests, filling in forms, and sending e-mails to particular tools. Still, some employers keep considering workflow automation instruments as redundant. So, let's review this feature and determine how it can benefit your business.


What is Workflow Automation?

Basically, workflow automation is achieved through identifying tasks that could be transformed into algorithms that a specific application or tool can use. This means that a set of predetermined rules is created, and the program follows them to manage files, tasks, or data. Of course, people cannot be replaced with computers, but there are plenty of areas in which workflow automation can be helpful. Data input, e-mails, leads, campaigns, or project management, scheduling, and even performance evaluation will become much easier with this advanced technology.


Why Workflow Automation Is Used

People have been assigning tasks to machines for some time now. That's why we invented factories or computers. If the algorithm is correct, a program won't make mistakes. Plus, it can process an impressive amount of data in an incredibly short period of time without getting tired. When it comes to business processes, workflow automation saves you time and money, while keeping your employees productive and happy. For instance, you can use this feature to:

  • Boost efficiency & productivity. Your employees can accomplish more within the same amount of time.

  • Increase accountability & credibility. Reports will always be accurate, and figures won't get mixed up.

  • Motivate your employees to grow professionally. They will finally be able to move forward from performing tiresome manual tasks to doing something creative, challenging, or strategic.


How to Build an Automated Workflow

Usually, workflow automation works in the best way if you visualize the process you want to automate using a drag and drop interface or a map. Most of the software developers offer a variety of workflow automation templates for the commonly used processes.

Your scheme should contain all the tasks you need performed and connect them in the correct order. As soon as all the parties involved and the stakeholders agree that the algorithm doesn't bear any mistakes or miscalculations, you can add all the other elements of the process, such as forms, participants, recipients, or alerts. You can also create as many conditions for the program to follow as you like. For instance, the system will send you notifications as soon as your request moves to the next stage of the approval process, or it can sort the inquiries according to their main theme and forward them to the specialist from the corresponding department (marketing, sales, IT, HP, etc.).

When all the tasks, participants, rules, and connections are established, workflow automation software can use this scheme to run the process. Moreover, the scheme can be easily adjusted if you sense that this particular algorithm is outdated and calls for a change or the results turn out to be not as successful as you expected.


Workflow Automation Benefits Over Manual Processes

As any innovative technology, workflow automation faces its share of skepticism. Some business owners consider it an unnecessary addition because if it works you shouldn't interfere. However, there is always space for improvement. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any progress. Other entrepreneurs presume that workflow automation is suitable only for minor tasks and simple processes. First of all, that's not true; modern technology allows you to create really complex schemes using an unlimited number of rules and conditions. Secondly, efficient execution of small tasks will still have a positive influence on your company's performance. Here are some of the ways in which switching from manual labor to workflow automation can work in your favor.

Same standards for everyone

With workflow automation, the algorithm stays the same, regardless of who initiates it and why. The steps, participants, and results are predetermined within this particular process. This means there will be no fluctuations and everyone will operate within the frameworks of the established guidelines, policies, and regulations.

Less bureaucracy and manual labor

Workflow automation also implies a decrease in the number of interactions between employees. Plus, it helps to assign roles in the most efficient way. Thus, communication within departments becomes less contaminated with duplicating, arguing, and delays. This will result in a quicker approval or hiring processes, for example.

With workflow automation, your workers won't waste time, energy, and nerves on filling in the same data into multiple forms or performing complicated calculations within spreadsheets manually. They will delegate it to the machines and concentrate on something more significant.

More transparency and accountability

Workflow automation allows you and everyone on your team to put everything on display. It is hard to get confused, forget about something important, or complain about lack of information when you can always check the stage of your project, the progress you've made, or view the due dates and people responsible for implementing a particular task. Your team members will gain a clear vision of what they should do, which will lead to better planning and more effective performance. Furthermore, in some respects, humans aren't as reliable as programs. Hence, automated reminders and notifications play a huge part in improving your team's accountability.

Less room for errors or misunderstandings

Unlike humans, machines cannot get sick, tired, or lose focus. That's why they won't copy wrong information, input incorrect numbers, or forget to send an important message. This means that your reports, forecasts, customer profiles, sales and marketing campaigns will always be accurate and won't fail you.

Additionally, workflow automation is designed to follow the rules of the algorithm precisely without interpreting it. So, you won't get some unexpected results because the software misheard you, read between the lines, didn't pay enough attention, or thought it was what you were looking for.

Endless opportunities to enhance the performance

Using additional reporting and analyzing instruments, such as dashboards, charts, or performance evaluation, you can measure the workflow automation efficiency and decide if it really improves your employees' productivity. If the numbers don't satisfy you, all the rules, tasks, and conditions can be adjusted within a couple of clicks.

Fully customizable schemes and templates will also come in handy when you decide to implement different approach towards organizational or work processes. You can change workflows to fit your new strategy without any extra efforts. Meanwhile, manual performance leaves almost no room for modifications.

Higher level of job satisfaction

Workflow automation doesn't mean that your employees will become useless, or their salary will necessarily decrease. They will have more time and energy to focus on more crucial tasks. Therefore, it will be easier for them to grow professionally.

Plus, with a balanced workload they won't have to work late, so they can spend more time with families and friends. Your employees will be happy and content with their achievements and life-work balance. Thus, they will be more motivated to contribute to the company's prosperity.


Workflow Automation Examples

Despite common assumption, workflow automation can be applied to a wide range of areas that are vital to any business.

Let's take a closer look at the workflow automation examples and see how it can be used to boost your team's performance, increase your profits, cut your expenses, and improve communication with clients or prospects:

Marketing

Efficient marketing is crucial when it comes to attracting and retaining customers, which is the main purpose of any business, and in this sphere workflow automation can be incredibly useful:

  • You can launch, plan, and schedule a new campaign within a few clicks. All you need is to select a group you want to address, decide what you want to tell them, and set up a date. Your application won't forget anything or anyone.

  • Campaign approval process is incredibly transparent and quick. Everyone knows their responsibilities and all the steps of the process can be easily followed. Plus, some requests can be approved automatically if they match certain criteria.

  • The system also stores all the customers' data and can use it to make your campaigns or messages more personal. In addition, it also automatically updates profiles and history of interactions, so you and your colleagues won't have to enter it in every form. You can rely on your automation tools and be sure that no information will be lost.

Sales

The significance of good sales cannot be underestimated. Your company's profits directly depend on the productivity of your sales department and workflow automation can become a perfect solution to increase it:

  • the information about your deals will be displayed on the automatically updated pipelines. This means that you can always monitor your progress. Plus, the application can notify you when your communication with a client, lead, or prospect goes to the next stage; then, reminds you to check on the deals that you haven't been paying attention to for a long time.

  • You can generate and schedule e-mail chains and follow-ups within a few clicks using the data you gathered from business cards or previous interactions. Moreover, you can schedule them and stop worrying about forgetting anyone or anything.

  • The system can analyze leads' and customers' profiles to create individual discounts or proposals based on their personal preferences and communication history. Most of the discounts and proposals can also be approved automatically if they fit certain requirements.

  • You can complete quotes and invoices within seconds using the necessary information that is stored in the regularly updated clients' database. If you are an international company, your software will automatically suggest you the correct tax rate and currency.

Of course, the set of workflow automation tools depend on your provider and can vary significantly.
Companies like Bitrix24 offer complex solutions that can be applied to every aspect of your business and can be used together with other helpful analyses like: CRM, HR, project management, or communication features. Other developers might operate on a smaller scale or specialize solely in workflow automation, but they still have their advantages.
Integrify and Nintex have an easy to use drag-and-drop interface. Fluix was designed specifically to improve your sales team performance. Zapier is perfect if you work with plenty of applications because it has excellent integration and synchronization capabilities.

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