Importance of Workflow Automation | Examples and Benefits

Executing workflow automation in the right manner could go a long way in improving your organization’s productivity and efficiency. As a general rule of thumb, you should automate workflow whenever possible. So your valuable human resources can use their time on tasks that matter the most. There are various automated workflow software and automation testing tools to help you too.

So, how can we implement workflow automation?

What Is Workflow Automation

As the name suggests, workflow automation is automating tasks performed by employees to use tools, apps, and technologies to automatically execute the tasks. 

Workflow automation is beneficial in relatively simple tasks (that machines can execute) that are also repetitive and require high execution speeds. Data input, sending follow-up emails, and approval processes are common tasks to implement automated workflows.

manual vs workflow automation
manual vs workflow automation

Organizations may implement workflows for various objectives. But these are the common objectives where workflow automation can help achieve: 

  • Improved efficiency in executing tasks, workflows, and business processes.
  • Job satisfaction for employees and team members. Nobody likes repetitive and braindead tasks like inputting data for hours. 
  • Data accuracy by reducing human errors. 
  • Productivity and speed in time-sensitive tasks.
  • Reducing labor costs. For example, 24/7 chatbots would cost much less than hiring customer service employees to cover the 24/7 shifts.

In short, automated workflows can help businesses save money, generating more high-quality deliverables to maximize ROI.

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What Kinds of Workflows Should You Automate?

While McKinsey’s study shows that one-third of all tasks in 60% of jobs could be automated, specific business processes will benefit by following an automation workflow system more than others. 

These types of workflows should be your main priority:

  • Relatively simple but high-volume tasks: tasks that are relatively simple but repetitive in nature (i.e., sending “thank you” email replies) should be the main priority to automate. So you can save your employees and resources for repeatedly performing these tasks.
    automated 'thankyou' emails
    automated ‘thankyou’ emails
  • Processes that require several people: human response times in a sequential work can be a major cause of delays. With workflow automation, we can ensure that relevant information is available immediately. For example, waiting for an email informing us that a task has been completed.
  • Regulated workflows that need compliance: Its software typically also enables proper documentation for the said workflow with various logs. Thus help provide analytics to monitor performance metrics. So, tracking and monitoring should be much easier with easy access to logs and documentation.
    workflow logs
    workflow logs
  • Time-sensitive workflows: in workflows with tight deadlines or when other tasks/workflows depend on their completions, implementing automation is highly beneficial whenever possible. Thus it improves time management skills of the employees.
  • Sequential tasks: dependencies between tasks are also a major source of delays when a single task delay can interrupt multiple other sequential tasks. These sequential tasks should be automated whenever possible.
  • Tasks that demand accuracy: pretty self-explanatory; tasks that require highly reliable results should be automated whenever they can to help eliminate human errors.

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Examples of Workflow Automation

While the implementations might vary a lot depending on the business and business process, among other factors, here are some common ones to consider: 

  • Automating finance workflows that are relatively simple but repetitive, including reimbursement approvals, billing/invoice generation, payroll management, contract management, and so on. As a general rule of thumb, processes that involve repetitive generation of documents and/or simple approvals in the finance department should be automated. Not only that automation relieves your employees of repetitive tasks, but it also makes all the processes much safer and error-free. For example, with automation, your accounts payable will be fraud-free.
    automated ticket management
    automated ticket management
  • Communications for customer support. Chatbots are a common implementation of automation in this area, and we can also automate simple emails like automated replies for troubleshooting tickets, etc. 

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  • Automating preliminary interviews in recruitments, contract generation, calculations for paid time off, new employee training, and other HR implementations. 
  • IT implementations such as automated replies for a password reset requests, automated notifications for software/OS update, scheduled maintenance planning, etc. 

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Three Main Benefits of Workflow Automation

Using a proper workflow management system like Aproove can provide many different benefits, but three core improvements can benefit any organization:  

Reducing Costs and Errors

A very common reason for delays is when one neglects an urgent task for one reason or another. With workflow automation, however, you don’t have to deal with staff making the same excuse that no one told them to execute the task since everything is going to be executed automatically. This can also help reduce labor costs and maximize labor cost efficiency by improving accountability for everyone involved in the business process.

benefits of workflow automation
benefits of workflow automation

Improves Communication Speed and Quality

Another key benefit of workflow automation is that it improves and streamlines internal communication.

By automating workflows we also essentially automate essential communications, for example, automating notifications. So that no one involved in the workflow has to remember telling the next person responsible for the sequential task about the next task.

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Improves Transparency and Accountability

A key aspect of implementing workflow automation is assigning supervising roles for each step in the process. By doing so, you are creating a system of accountability. In the workflow management platform, everyone involved in the process can understand the specific task they should be working on. Moreover, everyone also knows who is responsible for what task and the deadline. 

In turn, workflow automation enables us to make better future decisions to improve the effectiveness of business processes. 

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Workflow automation ultimately allows every team member to understand their expected role, responsibilities, and deadlines. On the other hand, management can easily track when tasks and business processes are not completed on time. 

By creating custom-tailored workflow automation, you can easily assign responsibilities to the company’s employees. While also letting automation tools execute the repetitive, time-consuming tasks. As a result, your valuable human resources can spend their time on more valuable tasks. 

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Aloukik Rathore is a Delhi-based entrepreneur, gadget lover, and absolute geek. He loves spending time learning about new innovations and runs a digital marketing company, Cannibals.