Have you ever considered using enterprise workflow automation to make your business operations more efficient?
This article explores what it is, why it’s beneficial, and how best to use it to improve your organization’s performance.
How to boost productivity through enterprise workflow automation
Benefits of enterprise workflow automation
In today’s competitive business environment, finding ways to increase productivity and efficiency in day-to-day operations is the key to success. That’s why business software of all kinds, from legal compliance to top marketing tools, focuses on automation.
Let’s look at a few of the advantages of implementing enterprise workflow automation.
Boosts productivity and cost savings
The first and most obvious big win to be enjoyed from implementing enterprise workflow automation is the productivity gain. Putting such systems in place streamlines your manual processes, reducing the time and effort required for staff to complete individual pieces of work.
Automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks means that employees can focus on more value-added activities, which in turn leads directly to increased productivity. Automation helps eliminate human errors, which has indirect productivity benefits because it reduces the time and money you spend correcting mistakes.
Let’s take the example of invoice processing. Implementing a system where invoices are automatically scanned, data is extracted, and payments are initiated leads to a significant productivity boost. That’s because it eliminates the need for manual data entry and reduces the time it takes to process invoices.
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Minimizes errors and enhances data accuracy
Another benefit of automated workflows is that they make it much less likely you’ll experience the kind of errors that can occur during tasks, such as manual data entry. The key here is that everything works like clockwork because automation uses standardized processes.
This is one of the reasons why so many startups use payroll software for small business organizations. Making sure staff are paid accurately and in good time is fundamental to the running of any business. But smaller businesses often don’t yet have the resources to employ an entire HR team. The solution? Automation.
Payroll automation tools can perform complex calculations for wages, taxes, and deductions based on predefined rules. This renders manual calculations unnecessary, meaning fewer errors tend to occur. On top of this, they can also make sure that you stay compliant with the tax authority of the country you’re in, whether it’s HMRC, the AEAT, or the IRS.
Since many of these tools can also integrate with time-tracking systems, such as digital timesheets, they can automatically capture and consolidate employee attendance data. This can be a huge time saver since it reduces the need for manual cross-checks.
Improves employee satisfaction and morale
Leadership and top management rarely do the mundane work themselves. This means they can often lose sight of just how much the tedium of performing repetitive tasks can weigh against good staff morale.
Workflow automation reduces the burden of these tasks because it frees up employees to focus on more fulfilling and strategic activities. When routine work happens automatically, members of your teams can contribute their skills and expertise in more meaningful ways, which boosts job satisfaction and helps keep morale high.
How to boost productivity through enterprise workflow automation
The benefits of enterprise workflow automation may be clear, but how do you make it happen in practice? The following approach sets out a six-step process to get you started.
Identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies
First, you’ll need to conduct a thorough analysis of existing workflows. The purpose of this is to identify areas where your processes are faltering due to weak points like bottlenecks. And obviously, before you can iron out any inefficiencies, you’ll need to find them. Review the sequence of your current tasks and home in on areas prone to delays or errors.
Once you’ve established where the issues are, it’s time to start drawing up a plan to tackle them using your new workflows.
Implement standardized workflows and templates
It’s vital to standardize processes and design project planner templates that define each workflow’s steps, roles, and responsibilities. It’s the only way to make sure you have consistency and clarity. In turn, this makes it easier for you to automate and replicate workflows across different teams or departments.
You can break down this task like so:
- Identify processes: Start by identifying the key processes that might benefit from automation.
- Analyze existing workflows: Check where you’re starting from. Establish how each process works at the moment and identify any problems to be addressed.
- Define new standard workflows: Define new workflows that outline the sequence of steps and actions required to complete each process. Make sure the line of responsibility for each one is clear.
- Create the templates: These should set out the standardized steps and actions that need to be followed.
- Create documentation: Document the procedures and guidelines associated with each workflow template. Include detailed instructions on how to carry out each step alongside any relevant policies or compliance requirements.
- Configure your automation tools and workflows: Select appropriate automation tools that align with your organization’s needs. Using these, set up your workflows according to the standardized templates you’ve developed.
- Testing: Before deploying the automated workflows, thoroughly test and validate them. Make sure each step works as intended and that the overall process gives the desired result. Make any necessary adjustments or refinements.
- Launch: Once the automated workflows have been tested and validated, deploy them to the relevant teams or departments. Make sure everyone knows how to use them and where to find the information they’ll need.
Select the right automation tools
It’s important to evaluate your business needs and choose automation tools that fit them. They need to align with your organization’s specific needs and workflows. Look for tools that provide exactly what you need in terms of features, such as workflow design, integration capabilities, and scalability.
The right business management system will help you make data-driven decisions based on your particular situation. It will integrate well with all of your existing processes, from sales and marketing, through HR and finance to production and distribution.
One big benefit these tools provide is that they centralize all your business-critical data, which helps you streamline your operations. The upshot of this is that effective collaboration becomes much more straightforward because all your teams have access to real-time data updates.
Encourage collaboration and open communication
There’s no doubt that automation facilitates effective cross-team collaboration, but you should also actively support it. Promote a collaborative work environment where employees can easily communicate and share information. This is how to unleash the full potential of automated workflows in your business.
A focus on collaborative task assignments and document sharing can improve overall productivity. That said, adapting to new ways of working can be a challenge for even the most forward-thinking of teams.
A reluctance to change can sometimes pose the biggest roadblock to effective adoption. That’s why you shouldn’t simply expect a new, hyper-communicative culture to develop in your workplace spontaneously. It needs to be nurtured.
Monitor automated workflows to evaluate performance
Continuously monitor and evaluate the performance of automated workflows to identify areas for improvement. The vast majority of enterprise automation tools have built-in analytics and reporting features that let you track key metrics and identify where you could be performing better.
Don’t forget that implementing new automated workflows is an iterative process. Use the insights you gain from the first round of deployment to fine-tune your operations and make them even more efficient.
For example, a customer service team could monitor the automated ticketing system to track metrics, such as response time, resolution rate, and customer satisfaction. This data will help identify areas where there’s scope for further optimization.
Provide ample training and support for employees
Offer comprehensive training programs to employees to make sure they understand how to use automation tools effectively. This is vital, but it’s often not given the priority it should be.
The exact amount of investment required will vary according to the complexity of the software, of course. You won’t need to spend long training someone to use a simple inventory scanner. A complex CRM tool will be a completely different prospect, though. Make sure to adequately assess how much time and money you’ll need to budget to bring everyone up to speed.
There are bound to be teething problems with any new system. This means providing ongoing support and resources to address any questions or issues that crop up is crucial.
Remember that your workforce won’t remain static either; new recruits will also need training. For particularly complex tools, it’s a good idea to conduct regular training sessions as a refresher course.
Offer support channels such as help desks or FAQs to address any queries or challenges. This will be essential during the initial transition to new workflows, but it’s good practice at any time.
Enterprise workflow operation takes your business to the next level
Introducing enterprise workflow automation is one of the best things you can do to supercharge efficiency in your organization. It saves time and money by automating repetitive tasks and increasing accuracy in your systems, meaning there’s less costly downtime while problems are fixed.
Add this to the boost to staff morale and the addition of new opportunities for collaboration, and you have a productivity powerhouse on your hands. Terrific news for the bottom line.