Automation is a big buzzword in the tech world, and for good reason. Programming a process to run on its own, based on various data inputs, can eliminate errors while saving a company time, money, and frustration. This can be especially helpful when streamlining business workflows.
Companies of all kinds want to gain a competitive advantage over their counterparts, and one way to do so is through introducing tech into the workflow management process. Workflow management is changing, and below you’ll see a few ways we’re seeing that change become a reality.
You might find it strange, but most businesses don’t actually know much about their work processes. That’s why the first step towards improving workflow is to list every process and then conduct a thorough analysis. You need to know how each process operates in every division or department of your business.
Talk to your employees. Ask them for feedback on each process or workflow your business follows. Analyze every aspect and document every detail.
Once you’re done analyzing your current processes, it’s time to find opportunities to improve. Keep your eyes open for any waning motivation, unclear instructions, or communication breakdowns. Identify factors that can or are diminishing the effectiveness of your existing workflow.
Fill in these gaps to create a better version of your work process. Make sure your new and improved workflow has as few loopholes as possible.
The next stage is breaking your work processes into smaller, more manageable steps. The simpler, the better. Most businesses are caught in the dependencies and decision points within any given project because its work process is too complicated.
Keep your processes simple, break them down into discrete steps, and aim persistently towards your desired outcome.
Next, rank each process on the basis of importance. Take a good look at the list of processes you have, and rate each on a scale of 1 to 10. This not only helps keep your workflow properly maintained, it will also help you achieve the best outcome at the end of each process.
Now that you’ve taken a deep dive into your overall workflow, it’s time to see where automation can fit in.
Automation is key, when it fits
Every process isn’t a good fit for automation, so each business must decide which processes are best suited for it. Time and resource-intensive processes often subject to human error should be the first to be assessed for automation. If these processes can be accelerated with automation, more focus can be given to other business practices.
So where can we introduce automation into our workflows?
Your employees are the core of your business. They determine how the organization performs.
Keeping your employees happy isn’t always easy. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, around 50% of all new hires quit within 18 months of employment. This can be pretty devastating, considering how harmful employee turnover is to a business.
A structured employee onboarding program with automated processes can help significantly. For most organizations, onboarding is hectic, and it requires cooperation from multiple departments.
Getting this process wrong can be costly since onboarding provides the first impression new employees will have of your company (and hence, determines how long they might stick around). Using automated processes ensures each
employee is getting the same comprehensive training up front, and it can drastically reduce the time between hiring and becoming productive.
Using technology to measure business performance often involves automated systems gathering and analyzing data. Software platforms such as enterprise resource planning systems allow managers to examine organizational activity details in a single location. Once you identify which metrics you want to track, you can compare values over time to evaluate your business’ functions.
Analyzing metrics like sales volume, average time to resolve support incidents, and other operational costs typically involves linking multiple systems, but an ERP system allows all that data to be collected in one place. You can use this data to identify important lagging (past performance) and leading measures (predicting future performance) to make strategic business decisions.
Not only can you track the overall performance of your business with automated software, you can also invest in platforms that allow you to collect and track employee data as well.
By tracking this data, businesses can see in real time what needs to be adjusted and trained for in order to optimize their process and maximize efficiency and profitability.
Make the changes
There’s a serious need to make continuous improvement towards superior performance, and the formula for success in this area already exists.
Automated technology is a game changer, but it won’t make the ongoing process of enlightened leadership any easier. It must begin with a leadership team that’s committed to continuous improvement first and foremost as the only acceptable cultural standard of organizational excellence.
This next generation of success depends on implementing continuous
improvements with a combination of back to basics thinking, emerging technology, creativity, innovation, ongoing training, and adaptability across a wide range of industries and operating environments —and doing it in a deliberate and systematic way.
The biggest benefit of workflow automation (in the proper places) is increased productivity. Ultimately, you and your team can get more done in less time.
Automation can also reduce labor costs and increase output. When asked about the most important benefits of automation, more than 30 percent of businesses said this technology led to a reduction in costs, while more than 25 percent cited increased productivity.
Availability, reliability and performance were three of the other benefits associated with workload automation. In a separate study, 79 percent of marketers said automation resulted in easier campaign management, while 77 percent said it improved sales.
Technology can drastically improve business performance in multiple ways. Even one effective platform can improve many of your business’ key performance indicators.
By examining your objectives and setting KPIs that matter, you can more easily select the technology that will advance your business and improve its performance.