Workflow Automation and workflows:
1. What is a Workflow
2. What is Workflow Automation
3. Types of Workflows
4. Workflow Diagram
5. Workflow vs. Process
6. What should you consider when building a workflow
7. Benefits of a Workflow
8. Workflow Automation Benefits
9. Comidor Workflow Automation Platform
No matter its size or nature, every business runs on a set of core processes – operational tasks and activities critical to meeting its goals. So, businesses are made up of everyday tasks used to complete goals. However, when those tasks are not standardized, they can lead to more errors, redundancies, and unhappy customers. Business performance is hindered and objectives become hard to achieve. That’s where workflow automation comes in. Workflows are designed to assist businesses in streamlining tasks, and processes and improving their overall results. When these processes are well implemented and well-structured, a business increases its growth potential and gains a competitive advantage. So, what is a workflow, and why is workflow automation important for your business? Keep reading to learn more.
What is a Workflow? Workflow Definition
A workflow is a group of successive actions that lead to the completion of a goal. The process must have steps that are pre-defined in order to become fully automated. Each step depends on the previous creating a sequence of actions that alternate.
It can be applied to anything from creating a content calendar, receiving an order, or automating the employee-onboarding process.
A workflow is often used to describe the sequence of steps in business operations, such as the stages involved in manufacturing an item or providing a service.
The need for workflow automation is rising as more and more businesses map their business processes using workflow automation tools.
What is Workflow Automation
Workflow automation is the use of intelligent software to streamline time-consuming, repetitive manual tasks. With an automated solution, users can build unique workflows using visual, drag-and-drop interfaces and logic-prompted triggers, eliminating the need for human intervention. To shed light on workflow automation definition, imagine it as a procedure in which business rules are applied to workflows to decide when one step has been completed and the execution of the next can begin. The right person will be notified at the right time about what has to be done and in what order. It is the automation of the predictable steps of a repetitive process so they no longer have to be done manually. The manual processes are improved and replaced with digital solutions in order to support the needs of digital businesses.
Types of Workflows
Workflows can be divided into several categories. They are initially categorized based on the tasks that they include:
- Sequential. In this kind of workflow, many tasks are carried out sequentially to finish a process. A typical workflow for an approval process involves completing one task before moving on to the next.
- Parallel. With this method, various actions are taken on at once to advance a process toward completion. Because numerous people work on the activities of a new recruit, the workflow for employee onboarding frequently uses a parallel method.
As you learn how to create a workflow, you may notice other businesses utilize workflow diagrams. A workflow diagram is a visual representation of the business process.
With a workflow diagram, you can clearly see how tasks are connected and create a step-by-step flowchart for process completion. You can use this diagram to rearrange your current process or identify where common bottlenecks are. Workflow diagrams also outline what team member is responsible for each task, which ultimately can improve communication and collaboration within teams.
As your business grows or more bottlenecks begin to emerge, you can review your diagram workflow to determine where improvements can be made. If there is a common problem in your process, you’ll be able to visualize where a solution can be placed or if your process can be rearranged to correct the issue.
Workflow vs. Process
Once you understand what a workflow is, you may be wondering what the difference between a workflow and a process is. A workflow is not the same as a process. Though these terms are often used interchangeably, a workflow is actually a part of a business process.
A workflow is a sequence of repetitive actions that complete a business goal. A business process, on the other hand, includes the workflows, people, and data that are needed to complete a given project.
What should you consider when building a workflow?
When creating a workflow, you’ll want to consider what steps are required for the process completion, who should be involved in a workflow, and the average time it currently takes to complete each task. This can help you better understand your overall business process, where you can make improvements to save time, and who plays an important part in each project.
With workflow automation technology, you can easily create a workflow, set rules, and use intelligent tools for effective task completion. We’ll discuss workflow automation later on.
Benefits of a Workflow
Let’s take a look at why workflows can be such a beneficial part of your business. Benefits of creating a workflow include:
- Eliminate redundancies. You may realize as you create a workflow diagram that your current process involves steps that complete the same task in different ways. You can combine these tasks or eliminate one to save time.
- Enhance collaboration. A workflow can clearly define who is responsible for which steps in the task completion process. Team members will know who to turn to immediately when an issue arises.
- Create transparency. In addition to collaboration, there is full transparency in the process. Every team member can understand which workflow tasks are completed, which are still running, or are scheduled to be done.
Though creating workflows can be time-consuming at first, the automation of these workflows can ultimately save your business time and money. Learn more about how to automate your workflows below.
Workflow Automation Benefits
The investment in workplace automation software is more than justified by the multiple benefits of this technology-driven approach. Here are five of those benefits, and what they mean to your organization.
1. Boost Productivity
According to research by McKinsey & Company, around one-third of responsibilities associated with 60% of jobs can be automated. By designing workflows to handle these essential but simple tasks, significant time savings can be made and productivity boosted.
With the burden of such jobs removed, employees can turn their attention to those tasks that require critical thought and problem-solving, encouraging innovation and speeding up the decision-making process. Not only that, an intelligently designed workflow will prevent communication bottlenecks and mislaid messages, since all documentation is tagged to a specific workflow and readily available to key stakeholders. With information shared so efficiently, projects move at a faster pace.
Essentially, workflow automation reduces the time frame of any business process, whilst raising the standard to which it’s completed.
2. Reduce Errors
Be it down to oversight, sloppiness, or misunderstanding, inaccuracies in any process can have damaging consequences:
- Significant time delays
- Unforeseen costs
- Low customer satisfaction
- Serious compliance issues
Of course, no business is perfect, and mistakes will happen, but by turning to technology to run automated workflows, you reduce the potential for human error in data-based tasks. You’ll also find it easier to identify the root cause of a problem should one occur – giving you the insight you need to prevent it from happening again, and a documented trail of both the error and correction process.
Whilst it’s impossible to eliminate errors, with workflow automation you can mitigate the risk and ensure accountability.
3. Improve Operations
As well as increasing productivity across your organization, workflow automation also introduces operational efficiencies. Process improvement is an essential part of business growth. As mentioned above, having a set workflow can help you identify issues and quickly brainstorm and implement solutions. For example, centralized communication through an enterprise collaboration platform allows separate departments to collaborate seamlessly, ensures critical announcements are received company-wide and gives a digital trail of every relevant interaction.
It also allows for transparent planning and execution. Everyone involved in a particular process can see what actions are to be taken and when, and are automatically notified when those actions are complete.
Another operational advantage of workflow automation is that you can easily monitor and evaluate performance. You get a clear view of how effective current processes are, which would be hard to obtain with a manual approach. You can then use this insight to eliminate redundant tasks and reduce friction, further streamlining operational activity. By improving your workflows, you are improving your customer satisfaction. A streamlined process, increased productivity, and reduced errors lead to higher-quality products or services at a faster rate.
4. See Cost Savings
Reducing unnecessary spending is crucial to the bottom line of any business and workflow automation can bring substantial cost savings, most notably staffing costs. Time is money. The less time spent on routine tasks, the less money your business has to spend on overhead costs and prolonged project completion. With automation platforms taking care of day-to-day tasks, you need fewer people on the payroll, reducing spending on staff wages and the expense of recruitment.
You’ll also see cost savings associated with the other key benefits of workflow automation:
- Boosted productivity
- Reduced error rate
- Improved operations
As a bonus, automated workflows can be left running 24/7, keeping your business operational round the clock.
To give some perspective on what’s achievable, a report by Deloitte found average cost savings of between 25% and 40% for businesses running intelligent workflow automation.
5. Scale Up Faster
Workflow automation can help you grow your business at scale and increase profitability. Consider this – if you take a manual approach to time-consuming tasks, you have two options for business growth. You can increase your workforce, the cost of which will dent any profit, or you can increase workload, affecting employee satisfaction (likely to result in an increased error rate and lower productivity).
With workflow automation, you can scale up quickly and efficiently without overworking your current teams or expanding them. You’ll also find most workflow automation solutions are designed with scalability in mind, allowing you to increase or reduce capability in line with business needs.
Workflow automation creates consistency and can be applied to any business department and interdepartmental. Workflow automation can be applied through business process management (BPM) tools with workflow management capabilities.
Comidor Workflow Automation
Technology has and will continue to bring significant gains to the business world, and workflow automation is no exception. With the right system in place, you can lower overheads whilst simultaneously driving competitive advantage through productivity, innovation, and operational excellence. It’s key to growth in the business landscape of today, and as it is so versatile in its application, workflow automation can be leveraged by almost every department in your organization, no matter what type of organization that may be.
With Comidor, creating and automating workflows has never been easier. Our BPMN 2.0 Comidor Workflow Designer allows you to create and implement workflows that match your business needs. Our visual road-mapping tool helps you understand and organize your workflows for optimal completion. Add role-based rules and rights to your workflow so the right people are notified as tasks become available or are completed. Comidor’s intelligent automation technology can help your business produce the results you need for incredible growth.
Request a demo of our workflow automation software today to learn firsthand how you can improve your business processes!