Workflow automation refers to using rule-based logic to start a sequence of operations that can run independently without human involvement. Automated processes can send emails, establish reminders, schedule activities, activate drip campaigns, and more without anyone touching a single button after necessary guidelines and logic are established.
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What is workflow automation?
Every activity has a procedure to go through it. On the other hand, many workflows are clogged with time-consuming, error-prone, and costly manual operations. Workflow automation techniques take on those operations with swift and accurate automation. Workflows automate various business activities, from direct to human-assisted to case management, and provide insight into each phase.
Workflow automation not only frees people from the tedious grinds such as manual data entry but also provides different advantages and capabilities to almost every department in an organization.
Why do you need workflow automation?
Automation is crucial for many reasons, including improved operations and efficiency, as well as accuracy. Workflow automation allows employees to work on other activities that require a human touch more efficiently. Productivity also implies cost savings for businesses.
Workflow mapping gives a top-down look at workflows, providing more insight into workflows. Increased visibility allows teams to communicate more accurately.
Workflow automation also enables digital workflows to be tracked and redundant ones eliminated. As a result, inefficiencies and needless operations can be easily detected. Removing human error from the equation also leads to far better outcomes in general.
Customer-related workflows are also automated, just as internal procedures are. Organizations can use automation to address frequent queries, resulting in enhanced customer service and efficiency. In addition, automation solutions have strong marketing and engagement abilities that boost client engagement outcomes.
Workflow automation is a task for automation engineers. We have talked about this in one of our previous articles named “What is automation engineer?“
Cisco automated its CRM system and reduced the number of customer contacts per month by 75,000 while saving over $270 million each year in operational costs
How does workflow automation work?
Workflow automation technology automates time-consuming activities and boosts productivity. Workflow automation solutions ensure that users may quickly automate processes with a few clicks. But how does it work in practice?
It’s critical to begin by thoroughly examining the operation to figure out which team members are executing repetitive tasks. It’s also critical to comprehend the influence these workflows have on determining the significance of each process.
Before getting down to business, you should first establish objectives. This can be beneficial in determining what precisely a workflow is intended to accomplish. Getting the appropriate workflow automation software should be your priority. It should have all of the capabilities you need. You may not need the software with extra features if you are a small or medium-sized business. Your objective should be to choose something that can provide your demands with the best expenditure.
You’ve established goals for each team and have implemented the appropriate software tool. It’s time to plan a workflow using the program now. Choose the applications and services most teams use in the organization and connect them to automate the task with software.
It’s critical to ensure that the entire team is trained on the software to teach how to use it correctly. This is the most crucial step, as it may make or break the whole project. The final stage is activating the automation and saving time and resources once the team has been thoroughly educated. This step should cut down on how much time it takes to complete tasks and improve efficiency.
Lastly, it is essential to measure how workflows work and what value they add. You can achieve this by establishing procedures and tools to see an accurate picture of how well the workflow automation software is working.
How does workflow automation help different departments?
Businesses can use workflow automation in almost every aspect of their operations. Today’s business leaders should understand that workflow automation can help them operate more efficiently rather than harder, whether in marketing, human resources, or finance.
Let’s look at some of the most common use cases for workflow automation in different departments:
- Human resources can benefit from drastically reduced paperwork, ensure compliance, and provide swift onboarding and offboarding experience with workflow automation. Also, automated approvals can lead to much faster sourcing, verifying, and recruiting candidates. Improved workflow visibility is also helpful for HR since they need to assess the operation with accurate data.
- Finance departments enjoy simplified document management, automated payroll, and recurring payment processes while saving time. Finance also uses workflow automation to integrate data with other finance and business software.
- IT departments have the wolf by the ears with the hybrid work era’s dynamic new requirements. While IT specialists work to make their companies eligible for new ways of working, workflow automation helps them streamline IT ticket and escalation processes, continuously watching for shadow IT initiatives in the organization, managing digital assets, and tracking user trends.
- DevOps teams use automated workflows to organize the software development pipeline, monitor and collect data, develop testing code, and deploy tests and code.
- Sales departments utilize workflow automation to streamline list building, capture all the leads, get insightful reports and analyses on ongoing processes, and automate many aspects of their efforts.
- Marketing specialists delegate routine operations to automation systems while ensuring that all material is approved by the appropriate people and work together on workflows with teammates. Companies that have established an automated culture may automate numerous campaigns at once.
What is the difference between dynamic and static workflows?
Workflows may be either dynamic or static. The software can utilize a schema template to determine what steps should be taken during execution when an automated workflow is dynamic. Schema-agnostic workflows are practical because they can take various inputs and have less long-term upkeep. When an automated workflow is static, the steps must occur in a precise order, regardless of any variables that may come into play. When possible, agile workflows should be dynamic and interact with automation to maximize flexibility.
All workflows can be automated to some extent, whether in software development teams or sales. Automating a specific workflow procedure might require automation of a straightforward request/approval process or many workflow activities and resources.
Why not use a business rule engine instead?
An organization can deploy a workflow engine and a business rule engine (BRE) to automate tasks. These two technologies do the same thing with different approaches.
Workflow engines are programs or tools designed to aid users in automating a set of activities that make up a workflow, often within a specific period. A workflow engine, often known as a workflow software program, is the technical component of a process automation solution. The workflow engine saves time and effort for an organization by getting a procedure moving faster.
On the other hand, business rule engines are used to make autonomous decisions based on predefined rule sets. Rule engines run on a set of criteria in software to execute an app’s code if certain conditions are met. In a nutshell, these engines define criteria for how software should function in various situations. A BRE isn’t involved in orchestrating tasks; instead, it is used to automate overhead activities. On the other hand, a workflow engine is intended for workflow management.
A business rules engine (BRE) guides software to make specific decisions in light of the situation. Nontechnical users without extensive programming skills can use a business rule engine to modify their software’s behavior according to defined business requirements.
Can RPA replace workflow automation?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is, in some ways, similar to workflow automation. The distinction between RPA and workflow automation is that RPA is used to automate separate, discrete activities. In contrast, workflow automation is used to automate a series of interconnected operations. While both workflow automation and RPA rely on technology to automate processes, workflow automation places a higher priority on communication between various parts of the process.
Best workflow automation software for 2022
Users can use workflow automation systems to build and modify workflow automation schemes through visual/drag-and-drop interfaces found on many of these software. Shapes and connections represent people and tasks that will be carried out for any request, allowing an automation scheme to be developed based on real-world activities. It enables rapid prototyping of workflows in an easily understood structure. Administrators may use workflow analysis tools like reporting, dashboards, and KPIs to ensure that processes are correctly functioning after they have been implemented.
Workflow automation software should be simple to use, cost-effective, and capable of assisting the company in achieving its business objectives
If a business is attempting to use workflow automation, it must be careful about its software selection. Workflow automation software should be simple to use, cost-effective, and capable of assisting the company in achieving its business objectives. The majority of workflow automation software is offered as a SaaS solution. The following are the top workflow automation software in 2022…
Flokzu is ideal for small teams who wish to optimize their time management and task processes. Users will get pending tasks in their inbox, making it an excellent project management tool, which is one of the tool’s main benefits. It would be beneficial for any team.
Zapier is an excellent solution for freelancers and small-to-medium organizations that use various tools. You can connect applications using Zapier. For instance, you might link MailChimp and Typeform with Zapier to send emails and gather leads. Especially useful for marketing and customer support processes.
Integrify is a fantastic tool for small- and medium-sized companies wanting to automate routine activities. Its drag-and-drop process builder is quick and straightforward to go from start to conclusion. This tool is perfect for administrative teams.
Kissflow is developed for small businesses that are starting to experiment with workflow automation. The simplicity and user-friendly design of the tool will make it simpler to get started automating procedures. Kissflow provides practical abilities for human resources and accounting teams.
ProcessMaker is the only open source and web-based workflow automation tool on our list. It’s a simple-to-use software utilized in healthcare, communications, manufacturing, and education.
HubSpot aims at small and medium-sized enterprises that have yet to use workflow automation and large businesses with established procedures. Businesses can upgrade to many different subscription packages as they need more functionalities.
What should be considered when choosing workflow automation software?
Regardless of which product you lean towards, you want workflow automation software that is quick, adaptable, and suited to your specific demands. Automation is intended to make things easier. Therefore, the product itself should be simple to use too. Examine for a user-friendly interface, no-code options, and drag-and-drop designers.
Using cloud-based workflow automation tools is usually simpler to maintain and operate than on-premises versions. They also provide simple access and security, as well as data scaling. Many cloud-based programs are interoperable with one another. Check if your workflow automation software is compatible with APIs and other tools like Zapier that could help you automate processes.
Many on-prem solution suppliers charge astronomic prices for workflow automation systems. On the other hand, SaaS solutions charge a predictable price and prevent unpleasant fee shocks.
Every business is different, and so are its procedures. Ensure the workflow automation software can handle complicated situations such as conditional steps and multiple branches. You can’t improve a process if you can’t review it. In-built reporting is available in the best workflow automation software solutions to inspect delays, track activities, and adjust.
Workflow automation software must be able to work from anywhere and on any device. Make sure the tool is compatible with the needs of mobile and hybrid workers.
If you are into automation, you can also read our article: The age of hyperautomation: Automate everything possible.