We can probably all remember from school the images of the Ford Motor Company in the early 1900s producing Model T cars using the new assembly line technique. This allowed Henry Ford to produce cars faster and cheaper than his competitors.
Skip forward to today, and the same concept of automation can be seen mirrored in dynamic workflow, but instead of car parts, we automate business processes.
“The immediate impact of the assembly line was revolutionary. The use of interchangeable parts allowed for continuous workflow and more time on task by labourers. Worker specialization resulted in less waste and a higher quality of the end product. Sheer production of the Model T dramatically increased.”
What is Automated Workflow?
Workflow is simply moving from one business process step to the next in a logical chain that makes up a business procedure. Automated workflow is the automation of this process as per the required design.
Why use Automated Workflow?
Release the potential in employees
The same rings true for business procedures as in the Ford car factory. Automated workflow results in greater accuracy and efficiency, and since the mundane is taken care of digitally, workers’ time can be spent on more fulfilling tasks such as innovation, analysis and customer interaction.
A staff member’s potential is released to flourish and not be snuffed out by tedious, repetitive activities.
Confidence, cost saving and secure audit trails
An organisation needs to be confident that the right things are happening at the right time in the right way with the right people involved. You cannot afford gaps and mishaps in the processes, which could be costly both in terms of lost revenue and a shaky audit trail.
Coded-in compliance gives a company peace of mind when the time comes to be audited as every action in the workflow process is traced and recorded.
Customisation: control over workflow design
Although workflow is an automated process, employees still need to have the freedom to shape the steps as required. A decent workflow solution will allow for this kind of customisation/configuration as every company has a unique way of working which the application should accommodate.
By using low-code and drag-and-drop configuration, a trained user can build the workflow themselves without needing specialised coding knowledge.
An added advantage of empowering users is that the workflow can keep up with changes in the company and can be modified quickly without outside IT help.
Keep your customers smiling
Often, the defining difference between two companies that offer the same services is how satisfied their customers are. A happy customer is a loyal customer.
Automated workflow helps your company work like a well-oiled machine that delivers on time and up to client expectations with no shoddy admin, delayed payments and missed deadlines.
Since every step is managed by the workflow system, you can respond quickly to answer your customer needs, and they feel secure by the consistent approach to business that workflow brings.
Even though workflow is a digital, you can keep the “human factor”, especially when communicating within and without the organisation. Functions like automated reminders, follow-ups and thank-you emails can be built into the process.
Management can make better decisions with better data and process visibility
When business processes become automated, data is captured faster with more accuracy, and improved data leads to more informed decision-making for management.
Furthermore, dynamic workflow provides real-time tracking and management of what is happening in the business – it casts a wide-angled view of the company. For example, they can see the state of any workflow in real-time and can view how many similar workflows have been completed in each time period and what the issues were.
All this powerful information is available at their fingertips through reporting tools and dashboards that workflow automation software offers. When linked with these advanced reporting functions, management can dig in and analyse the data to make strategic decisions.
Disclaimer: we understand that a person’s intuition and wisdom is also needed when interpreting the data that the system produces.
Cloud mobility: anywhere, any time
This point does not only apply to workflow specifically, but to digital transformation as a whole. With the move to Cloud and web-based computing, work becomes completely mobile: you can tap in from anywhere, any time.
This kind of portability, with mobile devices, is a big plus as employees can work in the field or in offices spread across the country.
No longer are they limited to offices and office hours, which is appealing to organisations with dispersed teams and departments spread across multiple sites or global offices. Innovative business apps are available to facilitate collaborative workflows in real-time.
Being in the Cloud also speeds up the process and allows the next steps to proceed without bottlenecks as everyone who needs access can have access from any location. For example, managers can digitally sign-off without having to have someone bring a piece of paper to them.
Communication flow and accuracy
The flow of information is a key component in the success of any business, and the old manual processes that still linger in many businesses can clog this process. By automating workflow, employees can become more productive and responsive to real-time information.
Not only is the flow of information properly channeled, but the data itself is more accurate and consistent, and each employee is given a clear idea by the workflow rules what needs to be done and by when.
Onwards and upwards!
By automating and digitising business processes, a company can shake off unnecessary baggage, inefficiencies and hurdles, and be set up towards greater productivity and ultimately, growth. Engaged employees can contribute their expert knowledge to building a digital process flow and thrive in using it optimally.
By Jeannie De Vynck