Workflow automation refers to components of a workflow that are self-activating. When a specific step in the workflow occurs, events that have been programmed into the sequence (such as an email notification) are triggered. These events are automatic in the sense that no additional human action is required for them to take place. Workflow automation is a feature that makes business processes simpler, faster, and much more accurate.

What are the benefits of workflow automation?

Businesses lose up to $1 trillion each year as a result of inefficient or inaccurate processes. But reducing waste isn’t the only advantage of automating your workflows. Other benefits include: 

 

Increased productivity—Employees who aren’t bogged down by repetitive tasks have more time to be strategic, creative, and proactive. 

Improved accuracy—Automation reduces the opportunities for errors by eliminating unnecessary inputs.

More efficiency—Fewer resources are spent on repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Automated actions speed up processes and reduce response times. 

Streamlined communication—Communications gaps are eliminated or minimized when emails, feedback requests, and other types of communication are automated. 

Accountability—Responsibility for each step in the workflow can be assigned to a specific user(s), improving accountability. 

Better visibility—Managers can track the progress of a specific task in the workflow

The benefits are clear. For any business, introducing automated workflow improves efficiency and accuracy, drives accountability, boosts communication, and even helps reduce employee turnover. 

Building an automated workflow

To successfully establish workflow automation, we’ve established a few simple steps for you to follow.

Step 1: Identify the business processes

The first step is to identify the business process(es) that will benefit from an automated workflow. This includes anything from employee onboarding to payroll management to marketing campaigns. 

Step 2: Define the business goal

Human resources planning (HRP) is the identification and management of all of an organization’s hiring needs. It involves accounting for an organization’s HR supply, future demands, forecasting, strategy, and implementation. To be effective, HR must balance long and short term staffing needs with business goals and the realities of the business climate. 

The HR team at James Delivery did just that. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused an increased demand for delivered products. The company grew quickly, and the HR team was overwhelmed with documentation. By introducing workflow automation, the HR team streamlined the recruiting and onboarding processes, from data entry to communication. They achieved an astonishing 134% ROI in just two months!

Step 3: Select your workflow automation software

Finally, select your workflow automation software. Some products offer basic functionality, while more established platforms offer features like advanced automation options and additional language support.

Workflow automation software includes pre-built tasks that can be arranged and connected as needed. Look for a solution that’s easy to use, intuitive and allows users to create custom fields, formats, and layouts. Users should be able to include process logic, such as a form field selection that automatically leads to a request for manager approval. 

Also, consider the software’s reporting and analytics functionality; it should be able to track, analyze, and provide insights on process improvements. System-generated reporting capabilities that measure individual and team performance can help supervisors manage and train effectively. A user-friendly dashboard with in-depth reporting, analysis of metrics, and KPIs is essential.

When considering implementing workflow automation, researching examples in action and the resulting benefits, is a great place to start.

Examples of automated workflows

Workflow automation is effective for both complex and simple processes. A single platform can be used to set up automated workflows in different areas of the business, and customers and vendors can use the platform to make it easy to track and manage processes from start to finish. The key is to set up automation using unique if-then logic to trigger an action. 

Here are some examples of automation in action:

Human Resources: Employee Onboarding

Onboarding new employees is a time-consuming process. It involves contracts, training, introductions, office supplies, etc. Many tasks can be automated to ensure a speedy, smooth process, as well as internal communication and collaboration.

Ways workflow automation can help with employee onboarding:

  • Give all stakeholders visibility into the process when someone from HR enters candidate and new-hire data into a central database.

  • Automatically send important documentation, like company policies, to new hires before their start date.

  • Assign tasks and approvals to automatically trigger the next step in the onboarding process during the employee’s first days and weeks.

  • Send hiring managers automatic notifications when candidates move to the next stage in the process, minimizing questions to HR.

  • Finance: Expense Reimbursement

    Expense reimbursement may seem like a straightforward process, but there are many ways the process can go wrong. 

    Ways workflow automation can help with expense reimbursement: 

    • Send automatic reminders for reimbursement requests.
    • Review submissions for accuracy and trigger a response for either:
      • The employee to provide additional information, or
      • The manager to provide approval.

    Marketing: Marketing Requests

    Marketing is another area where automation can help with speed and accuracy. Marketing departments often use spreadsheets to keep track of requests and manage assets, but keeping them updated is time consuming and error-prone. 

    Ways workflow automation can help with marketing requests:

  • Log and track requests for internal and external customers.

  • Track marketing briefs and send email notifications to keep stakeholders updated.

  • Collaborate by creating a trigger that updates stakeholders when content is approved and assets are available.

  • Sales: Customer Onboarding

    The faster that salespeople can onboard and engage customers, the happier the customers will be. But, it’s easy to get bogged down by time-consuming tasks.

    Ways workflow automation can help with customer onboarding:

  • Enter and verify customer information.
  • Send welcome emails, updates, and contracts.
  • Track availability and assign account managers to new customers.
  • Trigger the correct team member to respond when customers have questions or requests.
  • Getting Started with Automated Workflow

    Businesses can use automated workflows to save time on repetitive tasks, save money with error-proof processes, and communicate effectively with all stakeholders. Pipefy is intuitive, simple-to-use, automated workflow software. You don’t need technical expertise to build, customize, and deploy automations for any part of your business. Each step can have its own set of work rules, triggers, and a designated owner. 

    Start managing reliable, efficient processes today with a free trial of Pipefy.

    Request a free trial today to see for yourself how Pipefy can automate your company’s processes.

    Workflow automation is effective for both complex and simple processes. A single platform can be used to set up automated workflows in different areas of the business, and customers and vendors can use the platform to make it easy to track and manage processes from start to finish.