Did you know that nine employees in 10 perform at least one repetitive task that could easily be automated? This tedious and burdensome work costs organizations time and money while leaving staff frustrated. This is a real shame since the best workflow tools could easily take on many of these tasks and perform them just as effectively.
Many organizations today have already begun automating workflows. Studies show that 52% of CIOs now say their business is moving beyond basic automations, and they are investing in much more sophisticated and complex process mapping. But what exactly is workflow automation and what can you do with the best workflow automation software?
Automating workflows: what is it?
Most businesses today rely on staff to carry out work according to a predetermined plan. Individuals and teams are responsible for performing specific steps in a defined order to complete a process effectively, and ensure the business can continue to operate.
Automating workflows is simply about transferring many of these steps to a digital tool that can handle the work for you. Workflow tools need a trigger — that could be anything from someone entering data into a website form, uploading a file to an intranet, or performing an action in your company software. Once the workflow begins, it can complete a task by itself, but also request human input and decision making at key stages.
The best workflow tools offer more than just simple automation. They also let you connect different kinds of software, map out your processes, collect signatures, generate documents, and much more besides.
5 things you can do with the best workflow tools
The opportunities for automating workflows are virtually unlimited. The best workflow automation software available today can do incredible things — even using artificial intelligence to improve how business processes are managed.
If you are new to automating workflows, it can be helpful to get an idea of the possibilities. The following five examples show how workflow automation can support processes in a range of business departments.
- Generating legally binding documents
The best workflow tools allow you to create legally binding documents using pre-approved templates which you can then send to customers or business associates.
Example: You need to create a non-disclosure agreement when working with a subcontractor. You go to your intranet, select an NDA template and enter the subcontractor’s details. This then triggers a workflow, sending a copy of the agreement to the subcontractor, who signs it digitally, before reverting it to you. The form is then stored securely in your document library.
- Managing the invoice process
The invoice process is typically time-consuming and relies on a lot of manual activity. Your accounts teams spend a lot of time copying and pasting information from invoices (that are often formatted in different ways) into your accounting system – which always comes with the risk of typos. The best workflow automation software can make this process much more efficient.
Example: With an automated workflow, every time you generate a new purchase order number it is automatically sent to the supplier, who must include it on their invoice. They can upload the invoice into an online portal that uses robotic process automation to verify whether or not it contains the correct PO number and other details. Assuming all is correct, the workflow would then independently log it in your accounting software — and even schedule a payment — without any human input at all.
- Offboarding staff
When employees leave an organization, there are normally many tasks that need to be done — all of which must be completed quickly since in just a couple weeks that person will no longer be around. By automating workflows, you can make the offboarding processes much more efficient.
Example: When an employee hands in their notice, HR can trigger a workflow that automatically schedules a date for an exit interview, closes their software accounts, and generates all necessary legal paperwork and tax information.
- Sales and marketing
There are many time-consuming processes in sales and marketing that are ideally suited to workflow automation. Most sales and marketing teams are now familiar with email automation, but the possibilities go much further.
Example: A customer fills in an inquiry form on your website to learn more about your products. The best workflow tools could connect your website’s back end with your company CRM, and the customer’s inquiry would instantly appear as a notification for your sales team. Depending on which product the customer enquired about, the system could even send out brochures or schedule calls.
- Supporting creative work
Automating workflows isn’t just about handling simple repetitive tasks. Many aspects of the creative process can also be automated and make the management of creative teams much more efficient.
Example: Your company would like to commission some graphic design work. Rather than reinventing the wheel each time you put a brief together, you can use a readymade template to fill out the required information, receive bids from designers, and manage the approval process too.
Automating workflows with Nintex
As the five examples above show, the possibilities for workflow automation are almost unlimited. At Nintex we provide our customers with the best workflow automation software, empowering them to be more productive, save time, and delight their customers. Used by thousands of businesses, public sector organizations, nonprofits, and education providers worldwide, the opportunities are truly endless.