In today’s fast-paced world, employees have many roles to play and it can be difficult to keep up without some form of automation. Workflow automation technology has been around for decades. But many organizations have only adopted it recently as they realize its potential for speeding up processes, reducing human error, and freeing up employees’ time so they can focus on higher-value tasks. 31% of organizations have automated at least one function.
Workflow automation offers many opportunities for better organizational performance and management. But what should your company consider before it embarks on the journey to automate and optimize its workflows and processes? It’s good practice to determine what you want to achieve by automating workflows. Ask yourself these five questions before getting a workflow management tool.
- Why Are We Automating Workflows?
Before you start automating workflows, identify your main goals. With clearly defined goals, you’ll optimize the resources of each project. Having clear and concise goals calls for collaboration across departments. Communicate openly about desired capacities and budgets. After goals have been agreed upon, it becomes easier to streamline workflows and enhance overall company output. These are the main reasons companies automate workflows:
- To minimize the risk of human error
- Boost employee productivity
- Reduce factory lead times
- Ensure more efficient use of materials
- Significantly speed up process completion
- Track, monitor, and report on processes
- Establish a clear approval hierarchy and enforce accountability
- Enhance governance, compliance, and reliability
- Boost business agility—be proactive rather than reactive
- Which Workflows Should We Automate?
A good place to start is to assess all the workflows that heavily involve documents (particularly printed documents). Document-heavy workflows can involve a lot of inefficiencies and manual tasks. Identify processes that are time-consuming, repetitive, prone to human error, and involve creating and analyzing documents. This will help you create a roadmap and plan for process automation.
Not every part of a workflow should be automated. Focus on the high-frequency or low-complexity tasks first. Automating high-frequency tasks will have the highest impact. Start automating relatively simple tasks like data extraction, data entry, generating data from templates, and moving files between systems. Map each process to see each key step. You’ll identify where problems occur, where time is needlessly wasted, and where changes are required to improve workflows.
- What Impact Will This Have on Our Employees?
“If we automate workflows, won’t employees revolt?” For years now, workflow automation has been a hot topic in the workplace. Managers fear that employees will quit, while employees think automation will put them out of work. But rather than threaten employment, automation acts as an agent of change. It’s proved valuable to a number of industries, and because it’s powered by artificial intelligence, it has the potential to create jobs rather than destroy them.
Workers are more productive when their workflows are automated. Automation reduces manufacturing costs, hence the prices of goods and services. This makes consumers feel richer. When consumers have more money, they spend more, and new jobs are created. Workers with expertise in their fields can complement automation and enjoy rising compensation. The best automation technologies make employees feel like they’ve been given a superpower.
- How Will We Measure Automation Success?
Start by automating workflows with measurable benefits, especially at the beginning. As you make the case for automation for both employees and senior management, you need to build a portfolio of success. Measuring automation success doesn’t have to be complicated. Time saved is a good metric to prioritize. Calculate how long a process took before and how long it takes now. This helps you to quickly determine productivity gains. Here are some things you can measure:
- Productivity improvements
- Cost reduction
- Workflow cycle-time improvements
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Revenue growth
- Production capacity
Measuring automation success makes it easy to convey its benefits and build trust with stakeholders. You also establish a natural order for your automation strategy and prioritize the processes that save employees the most time.
- How Do We Improve Workflows, Not Just Automate Them?
Strategic automation allows for more ambitious goals. It doesn’t just save time and money on a few unwieldy processes but automates complete workflows across the organization. So, look beyond the initial benefits like money and time savings. Consider where automation solutions can be used to improve workflows. Remember, the main goal is to make people more productive and efficient, reducing costs is just a byproduct.
Without optimization, automation will produce inefficient or undesirable outcomes. If you automate a bad process, you’ll only enable it to run faster and more frequently. To make the most of automation, don’t just replicate a workflow. Consider your end goal and identify a quicker, more efficient path.
Workflow Automation Boosts Organizational Efficiency
Achieving greater efficiency is the goal of every organization. An efficient organization is more competitive; it gets work done faster and with fewer resources. However, achieving efficiency is easier said than done. Workflow management software can help.
Many organizations have embraced automation, and research shows that more than 33% of businesses have automated five or more divisions. Workflow automation software can help your organization achieve greater efficiency by streamlining processes and reducing costs and risks. Empower your employees, streamline workflows, and boost organizational productivity