What is task automation?

Task automation makes work easier and faster while improving the consistency and accuracy of workflows. 

 

It does this by reducing the time and energy required to complete repetitive, frequent, or regularly scheduled jobs or duties. Task automation minimizes the amount of manual process labor required to complete a workflow or deliver results.  

 

Businesses often deploy task automation software to simplify and speed up workflows, as well as to alleviate the burnout and fatigue that come from completing the same task, over and over. Task automation frees up time so employees can be more attentive to customers, focus on higher priorities, and think creatively about their work.

Characteristics of manual tasks that can be automated

There are many types of manual processes and tasks that can (and should be) automated. They can be found in every department of every company. Tasks that are ripe for automation often share the following characteristics: 

FrequentHigh volumes that must be completed multiple times in an hour, day, or week
Dependent Triggered by a specific event or change in status
Repetitive Involves the same steps or inputs each time
Simple Does not require complex information or problem-solving
Scheduled Regularly occurs at the same time or on the same day each week/month
Predictable Planned element of a regular workflow or process
Collaborative Requires action or information from multiple stakeholders

Everyday automations

The automation of tasks, work, and processes is nothing new. In fact, we humans have a long history of finding ways to turn manual processes into automations for our benefit. Consider the way robotics and assembly lines have standardized and sped up the manufacturing process.

 

Or the ways we are using software and AI to handle some of the data analytics work we used to complete with a pencil and calculator.  Some automations are so commonplace that we might even take them for granted. 

Bill payments

At one time, most of us paid our utility bills by sending a check through the mail after we received an invoice. Now, many of us automate that process so that the funds are debited from our accounts on a specific date each month, without any action on our part. This automation eliminates several steps: waiting for an invoice, writing a check, mailing a check, and waiting for the payment to be applied to the account. 

Vacation responders

Another simple automation that you might not think about very often is your email vacation responder. It gets set up once, right before you catch your flight to Maui, and then it automatically lets people know that you’ve received their email and will get back to them after your beach time. 

 

Consistent, reliable, timely, and helpful. That’s what task automations should be.

Automated work tasks in business

Many types of work can be automated, in whole or in part. Some of these are highly complex functions that require AI or specialized task automation tools. Others are tasks which are common to many types of businesses. We will focus on this second category of tasks for now. 

 

The kinds of tasks that are most often automated can be grouped into three broad categories: communication tasks, scheduling and time-sensitive tasks, and workflow-enabling tasks.

Communications

Business processes often include components that require emails or other types of follow-up. For example, an HR onboarding workflow may require documents to be sent to a new hire upon acceptance of a job offer. Automation can make that happen as soon as a signature is received: no human action necessary. 

 

In the sales process, following a prospecting call with an email may be a standard part of the workflow. These can also be automated. The use of an email template makes this work even easier and more consistent.

Scheduled & time sensitive tasks

Tasks that happen on a regular schedule or which impact deadlines can also benefit from automation. In a task automation tool, it’s possible to create tasks that occur at regular intervals or when triggered by another event. These kinds of automations help keep workflows on schedule without constant monitoring or intervention from your team. 

Workflow enablement

Many steps in a workflow create dependencies. That is, the completion of one task must wait for the completion of a previous task. Task automation can help ensure that the workflow moves along as planned by notifying team members when work is ready for them. 

Examples of task automation by department & process

Sales
  • Prospecting
  • Lead qualification
  • Pipeline
  • Marketing
  • Campaign management
  • Content requests
  • Event planning
  • Human Resources
  • Recruitment
  • Performance management
  • Vacation/PTO requests
  • Employee onboarding
  • Finance
  • Purchase orders
  • Accounts payable
  • Procurement
  • Reimbursement
  • Customer Service
  • Customer onboarding
  • Customer support
  • Customer feedback
  • Task automation tools

    Businesses have many choices when it comes to the tools they use to bring automation to their workflows. In order to choose the right tool, you’ll want to make sure you have an idea of which processes, workflows, and tasks need automation. It’s also important to understand the degree of flexibility you will want in a tool. Some tools can be adapted for virtually any process, department, or team. 

    Work smarter, not harder

    Transforming manual tasks into automated tasks delivers big benefits for employees and businesses. Automation simplifies the workflow, prevents employee burnout, and brings consistency and accuracy to critical business processes.

     

    Most importantly, task automation means that your team spends less time performing repetitive (and boring!) manual tasks and more time doing the things that create value for your company.

    See why companies trust Pipefy to help them automate tasks and optimize workflows

    Task automation makes work easier and faster while improving the consistency and accuracy of workflows.