The modern business world is almost entirely oriented towards agility, sustainability, and efficiency. All these qualities are almost impossible to attain without lean and unburdened workflow. Fortunately, the rise of digital tech made this entire issue much more bearable and presented virtually endless opportunities for automation and higher operational efficiency.
According to recent research, as much as 31% of surveyed companies have fully automated at least one business process, 41% declared they are using automation across multiple functions while 74% plan to invest in AI-driven automation in the following years.
However, the very term workflow automation is very broad and doesn’t speak about specific initiatives you can take to make your company leaner. Let us take a look then at a couple of simple strategies that will help you in this task.
Review existing processes in your company
Workflow automation refers to the process of refining, speeding up, and enhancing procedures within your company. Trying to patch up this massive system with the pre-made automation tools will not give you satisfying results if the system is flawed right at its very core. That is why, before taking any major actions, you need to take enough time to review your existing business procedures and processes and identify eventual bottlenecks, pain points, and discrepancies. Creating a workflow diagram and including the people who are directly involved with the mentioned procedures should make this task much easier.
Identify clear needs and objectives
Putting aside the convenience, workflow automation carries little value if it’s not performed with some clear objective in mind. If you want to get the best results out of this process you need to be aware of these needs, translate them to specific objectives, and use these guiding thoughts at every instance of the workflow. Of course, that doesn’t mean the specific nodes can’t feature their own specific goals. Also, while you are there try to establish relevant KPIs you will use to track the progress at each instance. Otherwise, you will have a very hard time assessing just how effective your previous decisions were.
Put all resources under one centralized system
This can be harder than it looks at the first glance, especially taking into consideration your company probably uses dozens of different tools that were not designed to work with each other. Fortunately, the workflow automation IoT companies are putting out an ever-growing number of fusion platforms aimed at collecting data across the entire scope of operation of one company and integrating them with existing operational systems like CRM, ERP, and similar. This centralized, uniform approach will help you avoid any discrepancies that can blow out of proportion if left unchecked.
Choose the appropriate tools
There are a lot of companies that are deeply rooted in complex dynamic processes and creativity. Using the ready-made tools designed to provide rigid and repeatable results will, in such circumstances, only drag down the entire system. On the other hand, such tools can be implemented to fine-tune smaller-scale activities that require that level of predictability. So, while deciding about the tools you are going to implement, try to avoid looking only at the big picture. Identify the specific activities that could actually benefit from greater automation and look for the tools designed for these specific processes.
Augment what you can’t automate
In the case of some business activities like marketing and sales, human activity and creativity are simply invaluable. But, keeping in mind everything we just said above, even those activities can be sped up and made more efficient if we automate specific tasks related to these departments. For instance, in the case of marketing, automation can address countless different activities like qualifying leads, scheduling social media posts, setting up email campaigns, and so on. As long as they are made a part of the overall workflow automation process even these small-scale improvements can produce astounding results.
Monitor, test and evaluate the automated processes
We have already mentioned this in one of the previous sections but we would to briefly go back to the topic. Obviously, any kind of evaluation you want to perform will require a comprehensive set of KPIs and target value metrics. Even if you have recorded improvements at the micro-level, your actions will need to make improvements in the following workflow KPIs:
- Time your employees need to complete the workflow
- The overall error rate
- The number of incomplete workflow processes
The other important things you can take into consideration are production capacity, effectiveness, cost reduction, quality, and revenue improvement. But, keep the three KPIs we have listed above as your absolute priority.
We hope these few suggestions gave you a general idea about the strategies you can use to introduce a greater level of automation to the workflow of your company. Business success was always built on speed and efficiency. These days, when the entire world is ruled by digital technologies, these qualities are more relevant than ever. Be sure to take these circumstances as an advantage rather than a detriment. As long, as it’s implemented carefully, workflow automation can completely overhaul your company.
Also published on Medium.