Is your organization taking full advantage of workflow automation?
The practice of automation has become the standard of many workplaces, and it will continue to cement its place in the years to come.
To take full advantage of workflow automation platforms, it is necessary to understand what workflow automation is, where you should implement it, and how it can generate real value for your business—both internally and for your customers.
What is workflow automation?
Workflow automation refers to technology that uses rule-based logic to automate manual tasks, such as data entry, that typically require little or no human involvement.
These are just a few examples of how automation can be used in the workplace:
- HR can automatically send out communications to employees during recruitment, onboarding, training, and offboarding
- IT can automate repetitive operational or cybersecurity tasks such as updating software or scanning for anomalies in network traffic
- Marketing can automate social media posting, data collection, and data analysis
- Sales can automate tedious CRM data entry
Since workflow automation usually refers to rules-based tasks, some distinguish it from other types of automation.
According to Red Hat, for instance, business process automation (BPA) often tackles complex, multi-step business processes and may involve several enterprise IT systems.
As technology evolves, we may see the definition of workflow automation change with it. In the years ahead, cognitive automation will become more well-known and widely used, and the definition of workflow automation may gradually expand to encompass other interpretations of the term.
Why automate workflows?
Automation is particularly useful for employees who want to augment their own day-to-day workflows.
Using automation platforms, such as no-code digital adoption platforms (DAPs), they can offload routine job duties to their systems. This can vastly enhance productivity, efficiency, and output. These gains, in turn, translate into performance gains for the entire enterprise.
The advantages of workflow automation continue to grow:
- An improved employee experience. Since automation tools often take over repetitive and tedious tasks, employees can spend more time on more strategic operations.
- A better customer experience. Automation tools that simplify customer experiences can offer customers self-sufficiency, shortening the time it takes to answer inquiries, streamlining customer onboarding, and more.
- Fewer errors. Rule-based workflows can be depended on to perform consistently. They don’t make mistakes, get tired, or change behavior based on factors that affect humans, such as mood or energy. As a result, automation tools perform tasks accurately, every single time.
- ROI. Ultimately, all of the factors mentioned above generate greater performance, productivity, and bottom-line gains for the organization.
Naturally, every technology is not without its flaws, including workflow automation tools.
For instance, job displacement is a common fear among some workers who feel that AI and automation could replace their roles. While certain job categories are at risk, many roles will simply adapt to include automation tools.
That being said, it is important to understand that with any technological revolution comes change. To stay relevant and successful, it is necessary to adapt, adopt new perspectives, and keep learning. Employees and employers alike should focus on employee training and upskilling in order to forge ahead in today’s fast-paced era.
Getting started with workflow automation platforms
Make sure to do your research ahead of time.
Researching workflow automation—by, for instance, reading articles such as this one—is one good way to begin your search for the right solution for your organization.
Reading and researching, however, can only provide abstract information. Actually using those tools results in a deeper understanding that only real-world experience can offer.
Here are a few steps to take when selecting and adopting an automation platform:
- Identify the type of platform. Some platforms are specialized and only focus on specific business departments. Certain tools, for example, focus on automating tasks within IT. Others, such as WalkMe’s DAP, can be used across virtually any business function.
- Choose whether to roll out incrementally or all at once. Pilot testing the tool with a small group of users can offer insights and feedback early on in the process. Rolling out the change all at once, while more challenging, can accelerate adoption and the benefits offered by the automation platform.
- Deploy, institute change, and continually improve. To ensure that any change sticks, it is often necessary to reinforce change, keep training employees, and regularly evaluate the new processes. The data collected can then be used to learn and enhance the use of these tools.
- Expand the use of workflow automation over time. As digital innovation continues to accelerate, so too will the capabilities and the potential benefits of automation tools. To fully leverage these tools, managers and business leaders should continually search for use cases and scale their capabilities within the organization.
When evaluating automation platforms, bear in mind that these tools are not just passing trends. They represent a fundamental and exciting change in the way we work. Automation opens up entirely new possibilities for employers and employees alike—and, since it is already reshaping the way we work in the next normal, businesses should begin imagining how automation can enhance operations in the coming months and years.