No matter the industry or size, you’ll be hard pressed to find a business that doesn’t use some sort of technology in their daily processes.
That’s a fact of life when you live and work in the 21st century.
What many don’t realize is just how much they can get out of technology; they stick with the bare minimum, thinking that’s more than enough.
Wrong—why not make the most of what you have?
For example, if you can this and that in half the time that it normally would, why wouldn’t you?
That’s the basis of what we’re going to be discussing today: adopting workflow automation tools for your enterprise so your employees can work smarter, not harder.
Before we get to that, what exactly is workflow automation?
What Is Workflow Automation?
A definition for “workflow” is the sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.
Specific to the enterprise, a workflow can be seen as a system—a workflow management system—that exemplifies how tasks, documents or any other sort of information is passed from person to person, group to group.
In other words, from beginning to end, it’s how things get done.
Expanding on this, at each stage in the workflow, someone or something is responsible for specific tasks that, when completed, signal to the next one(s) in the chain that it’s their turn.
At first glance, this seems normal and efficient, but when you narrow down on what’s happening, you’ll see that each stage presents an opportunity for improvement.
That’s workflow automation. It’s when you automate and streamline existing business activities and processes, thereby reducing human error so the enterprise can complete tasks more efficiently, accurately and consistently.
Do I Need to Automate My Workflow?
More often than not, the answer to “do I need to automate my workflow?” will be a resounding yes.
Even if you’re part of a small operation, chances are very good that you’ll gain some workflow automation tool benefits in doing so, such as minimizing inefficiencies and better managing resources, which both lead to an improved bottom line.
This is because, with an automated workflow in place, you have a system that automatically handles processes for your employees and, apart from saving time by doing things automatically as opposed to manually, essentially allows them to focus on more important tasks.
For instance, if you have any sort of repetitive tasks, you have an opportunity for automation that will optimize your resources for future processes, allowing you to meet new demands.
With that in mind, what are other workflow benefits of automation?
What Are the Automation Benefits and Limitations of a Workflow Management System?
Making use of workflow automation tools in your enterprise comes with a lot of benefits that can all help it grow.
For example, on a smaller scale, if your employees no longer need to manual notify others when something is complete, downtime between tasks is essentially eliminated, creating a smoother workflow.
On a larger scale, automating workflows for the entire enterprise can save time and reduce errors and costs, all of which give it the competitive edge it needs in our current business landscape that’s saturated by competitors.
As for limitations, the only real limitation of automating workflow would be if there is no workflow to automate.
Even if you’re automating the minimum, such as an automated email reply for orders, you’ll save time each time an email is sent automatically.
The very fact that some business processes will be automated means that you can complete (more) tasks faster, allowing your business to save time and speed up the workflow as a whole.
This, in turn, will give your employees more time to focus on other tasks like those that can be categorized as revenue-generating activities.
For example, think of an inventory management system in a warehouse.
By tracking inventory on-hand as well as all sales and transactions, the system not only knows when inventory needs to purchased, but by tracking past sales and trends, will also know exactly how much will be needed.
A very big part of being human is to err—we just can’t escape it.
But, in business, a place where a single error can cost upward of millions of dollars, being human doesn’t seem like a good excuse for the occasional error.
Thankfully, with an automated system handling your workflow, errors can be greatly reduced or even completely eliminated as machines take over what was previously left up to a human to complete.
Additionally, with the right software backing you up, you’ll be able to ensure quality work at the first go, which saves you the hassle of going back a second or third time to get things right.
In other words, by eliminating manual and human errors, time and resources can both be saved and re-integrated into the enterprise.
Workflow Benefit 3: Automation Reduces Costs
Like we just touched on, automated workflows can save time and reduce errors.
When combined, both of these things lead to reduced costs for the enterprise because we all know that time is money, and less errors means less time and money spent correcting them.
That is to say, overall, automation can streamline pretty much every process it touches so time and resources can be saved and diverted to where they’re needed most, not where they’re simply needed.
As for the errors, that’s pretty much self-explanatory; errors take valuable time away from the company because they need to be corrected if less errors down the line are to be expected.
If it can be considered a mandate of owning a business, one would be to grow.
Thankfully, incorporating automation tools into your workflow can do just that.
For example, consider Aprimo, a leader in global marketing operations that offers performance-driven software for workflow automation.
By offering intelligent workflow capabilities that automatically assign and route tasks, all the manual labor of project management is eliminated.
And by quickly assigning and managing resources for each project, you’ll be able to increase your speed to market so you can focus more on optimizing and tailoring everything to perfection.