Workflow Automation – Streamline Your Business Processes for Better Efficiency

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You own a business. You’re living the dream, aren’t you?  

Chances are, you’re probably living… the opposite of the dream too. You constantly have to think about taxes, bookkeeping, and all kinds of life-draining admin tasks. Manually entering data in a spreadsheet is also probably among those.

If you want to knuckle down on more important tasks, then you might want to consider automating things in your company.

Throughout this blog post, we are going to cover these topics and more:

  • The definition of workflow automation.
  • What are its benefits.
  • Ways in which you can automate your workflows.

Ready to start your journey towards workflow automation? Let’s dive right in!

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What is workflow automation, anyway?

Workflow automation is the way businesses streamline their processes, by handling manual tasks through software, apps, or technology. Do you want a smoother workflow and less worries? Automation can ease your workload and maximize efficiency!

Now, you might ask yourself: is there anything I shouldn’t automate? Well, yes, there are a few things. You probably wouldn’t want to try to automate tasks that require creative thinking or a lot of human input, like design processes or content creation (although there are for instance tools for algorithm-generated articles, like Articoolo).

7 Benefits of workflow automation

In every business, there are a multitude of repetitive or labor-intensive tasks that can be easily automated, hence reducing costs and improving productivity.

The workflow automation’s main benefit is that it keeps the organization’s processes in their best health and helps meet the business goals faster. Besides these, we’ve compiled here 7 other benefits of workflow automation:

  1. Avoid human error.
    Manual work is prone to human errors, regardless of how careful you are. With the help of workflow automation you can better avoid the undetected errors that lead to inaccurate data in your reports. Just make sure the automation is set up correctly! Things like having a visual map in the tool’s interface of what to do and when to do it, or well-designed web forms, help assure the necessary clarity.
  2. Increase productivity.
    Workflow automation enables your employees to liberate from the repetitive and tedious manual tasks that could take several hours, and instead focus on more strategic or complex tasks, where they can use their skills better. More than that, workflow automation is a remarkable solution to all the hidden costs of repetitive manual reporting.
    Just make sure you are in touch with your employees and they talk about the tasks that feel counterproductive to them.
  3. Gain competitive advantage.
    By doing things the slow way, your business is missing out on potential sales and revenue. Plus, you can accomplish the task with a higher degree of accuracy in a shorter period of time.
  4. Get access to additional insights.
    With AI-driven automation, you can process and analyze significantly more data and see more performance insights, compared to manual reporting.
  5. Data privacy compliance.
    The data management automation tools are generally designed to follow the data privacy compliance law: EU’s GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, or any other regulations. Handling data manually, you are more prone to make mistakes and compromise the security of data.
  6. Improved work culture.
    Especially in these times of turmoil (yeah, more Covid talk), but not only, when more and more companies have adopted remote work, the workflow automation tools help employees be more collaborative and more organized.
  7. Increased transparency.
    This benefit goes hand in hand with the improved work culture. Creating a clear workflow and process for each team member enhances better communication and transparency in your organization.
 

However, despite all these advantages, there still are companies reluctant to automation. Is it the fear of losing control the reason behind this? Or the worries about the amount of code knowledge involved in this? 

Either way, it is important to understand that this entire process is like a journey. You’ll have your ups and downs, but once you reach certain milestones and see how it impacts your business, you’ll be happy you started.

Automate your reporting process

Your working hours could be used in a better way. What if your monthly KPI reporting wouldn't need manual work?

Where can you use workflow automation in your organization?

Basically, everywhere! There are several ways in which you can automate your workflows, in every department, from marketing to human resources, or even legal.

Have a look at a few examples below:

  • Finance and accounting workflow automation: generating invoices on a set schedule; reimbursing employees’ expenses etc.
  • IT: tickets management.
  • Sales: automatically tracking calls with prospects; following up on leads; automatically making product recommendations based on customers’ previous purchases or preferences.
  • Marketing workflow automation: reaching out to existing customers; automating email responses; automating data reporting; automating bid strategies in PPC, and much more.
  • HR: onboarding new employees; vacation requests approval etc.
  • Legal: writing legal documents like sales contracts.

How to integrate workflow automation into your business

Step 1: Find the bottlenecks in your daily work routine

What are your most repetitive and mundane tasks that are damaging your productivity? Once you’ve identified them, think of ways you can improve them. But make sure you fully understand the manual process, before starting the automation. Think of it as something more than just the press of a button. It requires a lot of preparation and knowledge.

Step 2: Select the workflow automation solution

For step two, select the solution that suits you best. Look for the right software, focused on your needs. Here are just a few tools:

  • Zapier. Connect your apps automatically with an easy fill-in-the-blank setup, no code required. More than 2000 apps available.
  • Asana. This is a great tool to see everything the team is working on in one place, and much more. We’ve also recently started using ClickUp, another great project management tool.
  • Nintex. It’s one of the best known workflow automation options for companies. It gives you a complete experience and an easy integration with a drag-and-drop built-in connector.
  • Integrify. You can build workflows in an easy to use drag-and-drop interface. Access forms, route documents and information, integrate with existing systems, analyze trends, and more.
  • Google Data Studio. You already know how much we like to brag about this awesome reporting tool. Data Studio is one of the best automated reporting tools out there. It connects to different sources and synthesis the data to convey a simple and easy-to-understand story.

Step 3: Design your workflow

Next, design the workflow in the tool of your choice. You should have a logical sequence of your tasks dependencies. You can find some best practices here and here.

Step 4: Train the team

Process automation isn’t faultless, so make sure to invest time and effort into training your colleagues how to use the software.

Step 5: Measure your before and after KPIs

Another important step is measuring your KPIs. Automation is not a set-it-and-forget-it experience. If things didn’t work out the way you planned, you can always make adjustments.

Workflow automation - final thoughts

If we were to give you a piece of advice today, that would be: create an automation culture in your workplace! Workflow automation is both a state of mind and a technology, and leveraging it can minimize and prevent errors. Plus, it offers endless possibilities for your business to thrive.

So, are you ready to unlock the potential of your company? Let us know in the comments section below!

Or, if you need more details, reach out to us. We’d be happy to talk about how we can help.

Until next time, make automation your daily habit! 😉

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