Workflow automation uses technology to automate tasks that are otherwise done manually. Workflow automation can improve efficiency, productivity, accuracy, audibility, accountability, and job satisfaction.
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Workflow Automation Definition
Workflow automation is the process of automatically controlling how work is done by allocating tasks to individuals in your organisation based upon predefined business rules. This streamlining business operation offers a quicker and more efficient way of completing specific processes than if they were done manually.
Why Workflow Automation Is Used
There are several reasons why businesses might want to automate their workflows: to improve efficiency, productivity, accuracy, audibility, accountability, and job satisfaction. Let’s take a closer look at each of these benefits:
Efficiency is improved because all tasks, including those that are time-consuming, can be done simultaneously.
For example, a company might have different people entering data into separate accounts. If one person enters “Jane” as a customer’s first name and another enters “Jenny,” the information will be inconsistent. By automating this process through workflow automation technology, the inconsistency will not occur.
Workflow automation allows businesses to increase their productivity by reducing wasted time and effort when completing similar tasks repeatedly. When many of the same processes must be done frequently (such as filling out forms or checking for errors), employees can automate these processes instead of doing them manually every single time.
These repetitive actions force employees to spend valuable time doing them rather than focusing on critical tasks.
Workflow automation error-proofs business processes. When employees have to transcribe data into separate accounts, there is a chance that the information will be inconsistent because different people might enter it differently.
Workflow automation can prevent this problem by eliminating manual entries for repetitive tasks, which reduces errors and mistakes. Employees can then focus on accuracy instead of wasting their time avoiding inaccuracy caused by human error.
Businesses using workflow automation can meet audibility regulations set forth by local, state, or federal regulations because all activities are tracked through the business’ workflow tools. To achieve high standards of audibility, a business must track and record:
- What is done (the sequence of business activities).
- When it was done (time and date).
- Who did the activity (role ID or user ID).
- Where it was done (the location where it occurred, such as a building or machine room).
By creating an easy-to-use system for employees to log their assigned tasks, a dedicated workflow automation solution can help businesses meet audibility standards.
Workflow automation increases accountability by identifying who completed specific tasks and when they were finished.
This method of tracking individual responsibilities makes supervisors and managers more aware of how well each worker is achieving their task’s goals and creates a culture in which workers are more likely to be held accountable for their actions.
Workflow automation can also lead to job satisfaction by making employees’ jobs more manageable and less time-consuming. Employees can spend more time on their actual work duties, thus decreasing job dissatisfaction.
Additionally, workflow automation can make it easier for employees to track their progress and accomplishments, leading to a feeling of accomplishment and increased job satisfaction.
Simple or Complex, Your Workflows Can Be Automated
There are two types of workflows – simple and complex. A simple workflow is very straightforward, while a complex one may consist of many stages that need to be followed in sequence.
However, when it comes to both these processes, their benefits can benefit your organisation greatly if they are automated. This is because manual resources will only slow down how quickly you get things done, whereas automation will allow everything to run smoothly without missing any details.
Manually completing tasks also has the disadvantage of requiring more effort and attention instead of automating them, which would keep employees focused on other areas instead.
Workflows are used in so many different areas of your organisation, from the obvious, such as processing a payment or document, to something that might be less known, like approving timesheets. No matter what kind of process you have within your business, it will benefit you and your employees if automated.
Workflow Automation Benefits Over Manual Processes
There are many advantages that workflow automation can provide for your organisation. Here are just a few of them:
Policy compliance adherence: Workflows can automate how tasks are assigned and processed. This means if specific policies must be followed while working on various projects, these responsibilities will not get overlooked or ignored because it has been predetermined precisely who needs to do what and when.
Not only does this help with keeping things compliant, but it speeds up the process as well since no one would be required to complete these steps anymore manually.
Reduced approval cycles: Whenever a change is requested, employees will add it to the workflow, determining if the request should be approved or denied. This step alone can reduce several days from your approval cycle while also taking human error out of the equation.
An employee may have input an incorrect value for this particular change, but with workflow automation in place, their mistake will not go through and automatically get resolved without needing any involvement from another party.
Reduced manual handling: There are times when documents need to be signed by various members before moving on into production. If these tasks were done manually, then there is a good chance that someone’s signature could be missed along with all of the time and effort involved.
With these kinds of processes automated, the chances of this happening drop to near zero.
Improved visibility: You can also see how each task is being processed, so if anything seems out of order, it will be easier for you to find who needs help right away. By automating workflows, everyone is on the same page all the time, allowing them to deliver better results.
Improved employee satisfaction: Employees are happier knowing they have more control over their tasks instead of having someone constantly looking over their shoulders. This way, employees will spend less time worrying about following up with others and can focus more on getting things done as quickly as possible.
Continual process improvement: Workflow automation does not stop providing benefits at this point. You can also use it to improve your processes as well continually. For example, you could set up a recursive workflow where after five failed attempts to complete the task, the process would start over until it is done successfully.
Or, if specific repeatable tasks need to be completed by multiple employees, then those could also be added into workflows for easier delegation and management.
Better workload management: With manual processes, it can sometimes be difficult for an employee to know exactly what other members on their team are working on or how long each task will take. This means they may not correctly divide these responsibilities, meaning one person might end up with more work than necessary while others sit idle.
However, this is no longer an issue with workflow automation in place. You can see how much work needs to be done and by whom so that everyone is always kept in the loop.
Reduced errors: One of the most significant benefits of using workflow automation is that it dramatically reduces the chances for human error. This happens because everything is already defined and set up so that there is little to no opportunity for someone to make a mistake.
For example, if you need to fill out a form, the workflow can automatically populate the correct values based on the data entered into it previously. This speeds up the process and eliminates any chances of submitting incorrect information.
Overall, there are many advantages to using workflow automation. It can help improve policy compliance adherence, reduce approval cycles, reduce manual handling, improve visibility, improve employee satisfaction, and continual process improvement. If you are looking for a way to make your business run more smoothly, workflow automation is the answer.
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