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Capturing the Potential of Workflow Automation

November 15, 2018

Despite the universal use of digital tools like email and spreadsheets, the way digitized information actually moves through a company hasn’t changed much over the years, and a lot of essential data is locked in information silos, separate databases that don’t communicate.

Workflow automation replaces manual and paper-based processes and information silos with a comprehensive series of automated steps that places information in the right place at the right time. It makes data available to the person who needs it in a timely manner, and with whatever instructions are needed.

These powerful software tools promise greater efficiencies, reduced costs, and better management as work flows seamlessly from person to person and system to system. Effectively integrating previously disconnected processes can be challenging and complex.

Here are some tips to be sure your automated workflow delivers the right results:

Fully analyze and understand the process you’re automating.

  • Do a cost-benefit analysis to be sure the return on investment will exceed the cost of automation, which can be quite high.
  • Engage team members in the design process, since they know the workflows best.
  • Be sure the automation you design is flexible enough to accommodate future changes.
  • Once the system is designed, help the team adopt it effectively with plenty of training.

Manual Workflow

  • Hard copy forms are filled out once and then copied to be filed in multiple locations.
  • Manufacturing process data needs to be reviewed and approved by three departments. In each department, a reviewer emails their approval to the department head.
  • A salesperson enters data a hard copy form, which is copied to sales administration, billing, and marketing, where people enter different data from the form in to their separate systems.

Automated Workflow

  • Automated workflows can save money by replacing paper processes with digital ones.
  • All three department reviewers are notified when the data is available in a central location, and the system notifies department heads when data review is complete.
  • The salesperson completes one digital form, then the system automatically routes the relevant information to each department that needs it.