Workflows are essential for organising key business processes, but executing them typically involves a lot of manual effort. Through implementing workflow automation, you can improve efficiency, reduce the impact of human error, and get results faster.
If you can automate all key processes that don’t demand human intervention, you can stop wasting valuable resources. You can take time that would have been deployed ineffectively — sharing documents, locating important files, checking up on tasks, or unintentionally duplicating work — and put it towards more meaningful things.
In this post, we’ll detail how your business can use workflow automation to increase productivity, looking at a range of areas in which you can deploy it.
Before you can start improving your workflow management efficiency, you need to assess your current business operations and processes — something that’s challenging for any large company. To yield a solid impression, you should set up a meeting with one or two people from each department and ask each person to list the workflows they oversee.
You might find that some workflows haven’t been documented properly or at all — some may be implemented purely from memory, leading to a lack of visibility and no way to improve them. You'll probably be able to identify small tasks that are causing big hold-ups in your workflows and/or points where communication between different teams breaks down.
Once you've formed an idea of the workflows you’re currently using, you can decide which ones to focus on improving, prioritising them based on how important they are to the business and how demanding they are when it comes to time and other key resources.
The next step is to properly document each workflow, aiming to clearly identify all the steps involved, who is responsible, how long it should take, and the expected results. You'll then be able to accurately determine which elements of your workflows could be automated.
Very simply, workflow automation software uses rules to automate manual processes. As discussed earlier, setting up workflow automation saves time and money, cuts down on errors, and increases productivity. You can use it to do everything from sending automated reminders for tasks your team must complete, to automatically sending marketing emails.
Now that we’ve seen how you can assess your workflow efficiency and introduced the concept of workplace automation, we can get to some examples of workflows you can usefully automate. Here they are:
It's all too easy for important tasks to be overlooked: they can be lost in long email threads, or those responsible for them can be distracted and simply forget about them. This is where a tool like GetBusy can help by creating a simple task management workflow that will keep everything together and ensure timely completion.
Owing to its rich integrations, GetBusy can automatically create tasks based on actions discussed in emails or even Slack conversations. Those tasks can then be given suitable deadlines and assigned to appropriate team members who’ll receive automated reminders until they mark their tasks as completed.
Financial management is a complex and awkward area of business, but there are many things you can automate. Here are two of the most notable:
If you're charging your customers on a regular basis, you can set up an automated workflow to create and send invoices weekly, monthly, or annually. This will benefit you in various ways. It’ll save your financial department time, produce stylistically consistent documents, cut down on admin, ensure that invoices are never late, and help you get paid promptly.
Workflow automation can streamline the process of reimbursing employees for expenses. The only manual element should be managerial approval: the provision of expenses forms to employees and the processing of submitted data can be handled through automation, avoiding a lot of tedious data input.
It's also possible to set up automated workflows to handle approval for payroll, requisitions, and travel requests, as well as recurring expenses such as phone bills or travel costs.
Handling human resources is another challenging task, and workflow automation can allow HR professionals to put their time towards issues that warrant their attention.
When a new employee joins a company, their personal details need to be added to various systems to set them up for everything from payroll to email. Instead of having someone manually enter this information for each system, you can have a single form for each employee to fill in that will automatically pass the data to each necessary destination.
You can also create a general onboarding workflow to help new hires get through all their initial tasks: documents they need to read, other forms they need to complete, skills they need to develop, and people they need to talk to (to name a few).
You can set up workflow automation to reduce the admin involved with holiday requests and ensure that everyone's clear about when people are taking time off. A form can be generated, sent to an employee for completion, then passed to a manager for approval. If they OK it, the details can be passed through to the HR system and used to automatically update everything from payroll to the company calendar.
Fielding technical issues is a source of great stress to many companies, partially due to the clumsiness of conventional ticketing systems. Workflow automation can transform it into something far more graceful through the provision of forms that can be automatically processed and used to identify and group problems. Those problems can then be swiftly assigned to the most relevant support assistants, leading to faster resolutions and support assistants with less tedious busywork to contend with.
Following up with leads individually is a very time-consuming process, but it’s often unnecessary. Barring high-value prospects, you can automate your lead management, giving each lead a form with useful details that will pass directly into your CRM software for greater categorisation. You can go even further with automation, using it to distribute automated follow-up emails that will move prospects through your sales funnel.
As with your technical support system, you can add automation to your ticketing system to usefully arrange the requests you receive. Since customer-facing processes are even more time-sensitive, you can set up a system to inform each customer of how quickly they can expect a detailed response. Making someone wait for help is never a good idea, but if they know how long you’ll be then they’ll often be willing to wait.
Here, we’ve looked at just some examples of areas in which you can usefully deploy workflow automation. In each case, you can further streamline a valuable department by automatically dealing with repetitive tasks that would waste human resources. Think carefully about how you might use workplace automation for your business.
Book a demo for GetBusy to see how it can improve your workflow automation.