The Complete Guide to Workflow Automation

Every process, whether that be software provisioning or employee onboarding, has a workflow to complete it. Unfortunately, most of these workflows consist of mind-numbing tasks that are time-consuming, repetitive, and prone to human error. Due to these tedious, inefficient processes, employees waste valuable time and exert considerable effort performing manual tasks, leaving little room to focus on work that truly matters.

Luckily, workflow automation lifts this burden to diminish manual errors, optimize business processes, and improve employee productivity and efficiency.

What is Workflow Automation?

Workflow automation is a type of technology that refers to the design, implementation, and automation of manual steps and tasks within a process. In other words, workflow automation solutions take a company’s existing process, define the tasks involved at each step in this process, and configure automated actions to make the process more streamlined and efficient. These solutions also seamlessly integrate with existing business systems and tools, allowing the swift and smooth transfer of data between various platforms.

To achieve the highest levels of productivity and efficiency, businesses should automate workflows that cause disruptions, delays, and employee frustration. If your organization is considering implementing a workflow automation solution, keep reading to learn the differences between manual and automated workflows and how workflow automation can benefit every department within your business.

Manual vs. Automated Workflows

Manual workflows require a human to manage all the items necessary to complete each task at every step in the process. For example, if an employee requests paid time off, they would have to fill out either a physical or digital leave request form and send it to their manager for approval. The employee would then wait for their manager to approve or reject the request, potentially taking hours or even the entire workday. If approved, HR managers would then sift through various forms, calculate the employee’s PTO balance, and individually update their records. Beyond this tiresome back-and-forth between the employee, manager, and HR team, data inaccuracies may also be a result of the manual process of requesting PTO. Because leave request processing is done by hand, it is easy for HR to make mistakes in PTO calculations or data entry. Not only do incorrect PTO balances frustrate the employee, but they require HR teams to waste valuable time correcting the numbers instead of working on more meaningful tasks.

Fortunately, with workflow automation, requesting and approving PTO happens instantly with minimal effort. When an employee submits a request for paid time off, workflow automation solutions notify their manager immediately and autonomously, eliminating long employee wait times and ensuring their manager is made aware of the request. If the manager cannot review the request right away, workflow automation solutions autonomously remind them while allowing the employee to keep track of the approval in real-time. Once the manager reviews and approves or rejects the request, the employee is notified immediately. Because these solutions easily integrate with existing tools and business systems, HR records are updated automatically, removing the need for an HR team member to calculate or enter data manually.

The Benefits of Workflow Automation

Now that you have gained a better understanding of how automated workflows differ from manual workflows, it’s time to dive deep into the benefits of implementing a workflow automation solution.

Boosts employee productivity

By automating workflows, employees are liberated from repetitive, manual tasks that bog down and prevent them from getting real work done. Rather than waste time performing tedious tasks such as data entry or appointment scheduling, workflow automation allows employees to focus on higher-value work, resulting in increased productivity and engagement.

 

Improves workplace efficiency


Manual processes consist of copious amounts of documentation, data entry, and time spent waiting for various parties to respond. Workflow automation eliminates these bottlenecks and minimizes disruptions by streamlining workflows and simplifying processes, ensuring employees get their work done efficiently and effortlessly.

 

Reduces errors and costs


By following repeatable processes and instructions, workflow automation solutions perform and complete redundant tasks autonomously without the need for heavy human intervention or supervision. As a result, it reduces the chance for human error and costs of human error, helping to ensure consistency and accuracy from start to finish.

 

Enhances employee experience


Workflow automation takes the basic, routine tasks out of human hands, enabling employees to concentrate on more critical and meaningful work. By relieving employees from tasks that drain most of their time and energy, workflow automation helps them feel happier and more engaged in their work. The increase in employee satisfaction and morale then leads to higher productivity and retention rates.

Examples of Workflow Automation

Every department, whether it be IT Service Desk or finance, has manual workflows that can be automated to improve efficiency and employee productivity. Here are various ways in which departments in your organization can benefit from workflow automation:

IT

  • Provision software access instantly
  • Create, assign, and route tickets to the right agents in seconds
  • Reset passwords and unlock user accounts
  • Add and remove users from groups

 

Sales & Marketing

  • Qualify and convert leads automatically
  • Automate renewals & send upsell recommendations
  • Book demos and meetings with site visitors in seconds
  • Process returns and refunds instantly

Finance

  • Automatically send invoices to customers
  • Schedule auto-payments for recurring invoices
  • Process reimbursements and budget approvals instantly
  • Update billing and employee payroll information

 

Human Resources

  • Provide seamless employee onboarding and offboarding experiences
  • Source and recruit top talent faster
  • Track and manage employee timesheets automatically
  • Manage, calculate, and approve leave requests instantly

The Value of Workflow Automation

Manual processes are the bane of every employee, but instead of tolerating them, why not automate them? From sales and marketing to finance and human resources, almost every department in an organization can benefit from workflow automation. Work is turned around faster, manual errors are reduced, and employees are empowered to do more with no restraints. With the benefits of workflow automation, you can radically transform employee experiences and the way your business functions. Companies often stick digital transformation and automation efforts on the bottom of their to-do lists—a detrimental mistake made all too often. Stay ahead of your competition by automating your company’s workflows today.

Additional Resources

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