Small businesses spend hours chasing invoices, manually entering data into systems and producing reports. This kind of small business task management is repetitive, time-consuming and, normally, carried out manually. All that time spent completing manual tasks is time which could have been spent generating leads and doing billable work.
The key to resolving these issues lies in automating small business task management. By automating these processes, you can ensure that tasks flow from person to person more efficiently, without breaking down and causing bottlenecks.
Many small businesses decide against workflow automation because they believe it’s too expensive. But, this isn’t the case. As new cloud-based workflow platforms increasingly become affordable and cost-effective, workflow software management is a viable option for small businesses.
What is Workflow Management Software?
A workflow is the series of tasks that need to be completed (and the order in which they need to be completed) to successfully accomplish a business goal.
Workflow automation software removes manual input from these processes, allowing them to run smoothly and taking onus away from employees. Essentially, it ensures that the right employees are sent the right tasks at the right time.
When Manual Workflows Break Down
Let’s look at an example to illustrate this – and see how it can go wrong if done manually.
- Sophie wants to book a vacation. She emails her manager, Miriam.
- Miriam is in a meeting with important clients. After quickly glancing at Sophie’s email, Miriam forgets about it. The next morning, Sophie asks about her vacation request. Miriam feels bad and sends an email to HR straight away.
- Leonard in HR receives the email among 50 other emails that morning. He opens it late in the afternoon, completes the vacation-booking process tasks he needs to (regarding Sophie’s request) and sends an email to Miriam to say it has been approved.
- Miriam forwards Leonard’s email to Sophie and asks her to put her vacation on the calendar. Sophie forgets to do this.
- When Sophie’s vacation date arrives, there’s no plan for Sophie’s absence. While Sophie is away, her tasks remain incomplete and cause a bottleneck.
As we can see, there are several ways that manual processes break down. They are slow and prone to human error. These can cause bottlenecks, as people are dependent on their colleagues to complete tasks before they can get started on their work.
This damages productivity and, ultimately, the bottom line.
When Workflows Work Well
Let’s see how workflow automation software, like Nintex Workflow, could deal with Sophie’s request more efficiently – saving time and money.
- Sophie wants to book a vacation. She fills out a ‘vacation request’ form on the company intranet.
- This automatically sends an email to Miriam. The content of the email has been generated using Sophie’s ‘vacation request’ form. Miriam can approve with one click.
- This sends an email to Leonard to process the request, which again only takes one click. All Leonard’s tasks regarding vacation requests are completed for him when employees fill out the form, i.e. all the information is automatically stored in the right folders.
- This triggers an email to Sophie and Miriam, and the calendar is automatically updated.
- A week before Sophie’s vacation, an email is triggered to remind Sophie and Miriam to plan for Sophie’s absence.
With the software in place, the workflow takes care of itself. Sophie, Miriam and Leonard can focus on other tasks and the risk of human error is negligible. Other benefits include freeing up time and resources for innovation, reducing the use of paper, and automatic tracking, auditing and budget management.
Better Small Business Task Management Processes
It’s true that many large organizations use workflow software to take on sophisticated processes that contain hundreds of tasks for thousands of employees across multiple geographies. But, they get just as much value for its ability to deal with smaller tasks. The same small tasks, such as the vacation request example above, are just as fundamental to small businesses as they are for larger ones.
Imagine never having to worry about the following again:
- Submitting and collecting expenses
- Tracking the creation of a sales proposal
- Onboarding new employees
- Generating proposals and contracts
- Managing document review and approval
- Assessing equipment purchases
- Completing safety inspections
Driving Businesses Forward
Purchasing new software can seem daunting; some may think it’s an expensive investment. However, outdated manual systems can cost organizations far more in the long run. And, when staff are freed from laborious, repetitive tasks, they can focus on driving the business forward instead.
At Nintex, we wanted to know the real value that our automated workflow software, Nintex Workflow, was offering businesses. We worked with Forrester Research to evaluate ROI from our technology based on interviews with our customers.
Here are the results:
- Organizations had a 176% ROI
- Payback in 10.5 months
- 8-15% gains in employee productivity
- Organizations avoided additional costs of custom code
To find out more about Nintex Workflow and how it can help you with your small business task management, contact us today. Want to start automating workflows at your business? Start now by accessing a free Nintex trial here.