What Is a Digital Workflow? Definition and Benefits
Digital transformation is not a new subject, but it is an important one. International Data Corporation predicts that digital transformation investments will reach $6.8 trillion globally by 2023 as businesses and governments adjust to remote and hybrid work models.
With these new work models becoming permanent fixtures, and markets demanding increased productivity and efficiency, digital workflows are a crucial part of staying agile and competitive.
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What is a digital workflow?
A workflow is the breakdown and execution of tasks in a business system, from start to finish, either automated or not. It is often used to map out the progress of a project or service from where it begins to where it ends in a way that is easy to follow and understand.
A digital workflow allows teams to digitize steps, standardize phases, and enforce requirements, usually within a cloud-based solution. It displays information in real-time, promotes communication among team members and departments, stores data for future reports or audits, and can be used to automate repetitive tasks.
Implementing digital workflows is a core strategy for any company’s digital transformation. Like a regular workflow, digital workflows may involve several people, teams, and tasks. They can be simple or complex. Yet, they must be repeatable processes that happen regularly.
To illustrate how digital workflows can streamline any type of business process using technology, let’s analyze the steps of a non-digital employee onboarding process. If you don’t have a digital workflow in place, you’ll perform many manual tasks — even if it includes emails and online spreadsheets. Answering new employees and other teams’ questions, writing and forwarding messages, receiving documents, storing and sharing information are a few of the manual tasks that can be automated.
There are several steps, many repetitive ones, and plenty of room for delays and human error.
The employee onboarding workflow involves several steps, different departments, and hiring managers, which increases its complexity. That is why it can become complicated when HR is receiving onboarding requests at scale.
Empowered by workflow management and low-code automation software, a digital workflow process requires fewer steps and human input.
Digital workflow automation: the best way to increase productivity
Digital workflows help centralize information and communication, and enable all stakeholders to track processes. Still, managers can automate tasks and notifications to become even more efficient.
According to SnapLogic, repetitive tasks that could be easily automated, such as “searching for data, data entry, data processing and analysis, and combining data from multiple sources – are costing businesses 19 working days per year per employee, on average”. It’s a lot of time that professionals could be using in value-added and more rewarding activities.
Automating a workflow means using triggers to set actions in motion, creating automatic notifications, alerts for expired due dates, approval flows, and more. It also means integrating workflow management software with other tools, creating a flow of information between them, to avoid manual inputs, save time, and minimize human errors.
That sounds great. But how can a business automate workflows without overwhelming its IT department?
The answer is no-code platforms that enable citizen developers to create automated digital workflows. By using drag-and-drop capabilities and visually adding or arranging components, everyone can automate workflows without writing a single line of code. Therefore, to make the most of digital transformation and the tools that help us work smarter, automation is the way to go. Spreadsheets and emails won’t do the work. You’ll need more complex and sophisticated tools to digitize and automate processes.
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6 benefits of digital workflow automation
Digital and automated workflows help optimize and streamline your processes, no matter a company’s size or industry. If you’re not convinced yet, here are more benefits of digital workflow automation.
- Save time. Centralizing tasks in a single place while automating repetitive steps allows your team to have more time to focus on other priorities and value-added activities.
- Reduce errors and operational risks. By removing individual data inputs, enforcing business rules, and setting alerts, you’ll dramatically reduce mistakes that usually happen when using emails and spreadsheets.
- Promote transparency. Everyone on your team has visibility of tasks, priorities, due dates, and statuses. A workflow management software enables a collaborative work environment by assigning clear responsibilities and promoting accountability.
- Enable remote work. By being a single, updated source of truth, digital workflows provide an environment for asynchronous work and improve team coordination. Everyone is in the loop, even if they are not in the same time zone.
- Report results. With digital workflows, you’ll have a record of all of your team’s activities. It will allow you to report results, store important data, and streamline audits.
- Make data-driven decisions. Having access to all sorts of data will allow you to analyze everything you and your team do, identify process bottlenecks, and set specific goals. The result? Better and faster decision-making.
In short, digital workflows are one of the most critical tools businesses can use to achieve process excellence.
Digital workflows for recruitment and employee onboarding
James Delivery is a Brazilian platform that connects consumers, delivery personnel, and stores, delivering a variety of products 24/7. In 2019, they expanded from 1 to 25 cities and had even greater projections for the years to come. Therefore, handling workflows at scale became a big priority.
In this context, James’ HR department started using Pipefy to structure digital and automated workflows for handling recruitment and employee onboarding. They were able to standardize and automate the opening and approval of new job positions — also, to centralize and automate communications with selected candidates and teams responsible for onboarding. They now receive all new employee documents through an online form.
By having complete visibility of all information in one place, the James Delivery HR team got a 134% ROI in 2 months. It reduced their need for recruiters, allowing employees to fill in more strategic positions.
Creation and approval of 3,000 marketing assets per month
A marketing department can also benefit from digitizing workflows, which was Magazine Luiza’s case with Pipefy. Magazine Luiza is one of the largest Brazilian retail companies with an excellent logistics network and a ten-figure e-commerce business.
Even though they had digital workflows in place, the tool they used resulted in limited efficiency. Almost half of the briefings the marketing department received had missing information, which blocked tasks. There were also frequent delays due to poor communication and tasks’ decentralization. But Pipefy changed that, allowing the team to create and approve thousands of assets every month.
How did that happen? Digital, smart workflows that ensure standardized briefings, centralized requests, and automated manual procedures. Magazine Luiza’s team eliminated rework, and incomplete briefings decreased from 47% to 31%.
Digital workflows to centralize the purchasing process
Finance teams can also enhance their processes with digital, automated workflows. That’s what happened to Samsonite, the worldwide leader in superior travel bags, luggage, and accessories.
Samsonite’s procurement operation was almost entirely manual. It was mainly managed through email and files that weren’t streamlined and suited to an actual business’ digital transformation. However, by using Pipefy’s digital workflow solution, Samsonite’s Finance team centralized their purchasing process. They collect all information through online forms and manage every purchase request efficiently and accurately with smart workflows.
Besides gaining complete visibility, they integrated Pipefy into their ERP system to easily control spending and report results. By implementing a digital workflow solution, the company has saved over 2,370 paid employee hours in just five months.
Start automating workflows today
No matter your department or the size of your business, you can leverage digital workflow automation with Pipefy, a trusted partner that will help you take control of your work and streamline processes while keeping the big picture in mind.