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Process 101: Optimizing processes with workflow automation

More and more organizations are choosing process automation to drive their digital transformation. This is great news because optimizing processes offers an opportunity to improve productivity, reduce costs, and improve employee satisfaction. However, there are many different automation technologies, and it is important to use the right solution for your specific business requirements.

Often, the best solution is a combination of different technologies. For instance, a mix of robotic process automation, workflow automation, and document generation can best solve the challenges of slow, tedious, and error-prone HR onboarding processes. On their own, they may only solve part of the problem.

In this blog, we take a close look at one of these technologies: workflow automation. We examine the role it can play in optimizing processes on its own and within a wider set of automation tools to take your organization’s process management to the next level.

Don’t fall for the trap

When considering how to optimize your processes, it can be tempting to go for a “silver bullet” option. It’s important to cut through the hype surrounding new technologies, often fuelled by vendors who are keen to promote their product as the solution to every problem.

Instead, you need to match the right solution to the unique problems facing your organization. This is the only way to maximize the value you can get from technology investments.

Why process mapping is so important?

So, how do you go about finding the right solution for your business needs? Start by understanding your current processes, and consider the following:

  1. What do our current business processes look like?
  2. What business problems do we want to solve?
  3. How do we try to solve these problems currently, if at all?
  4. What is going wrong?
  5. What is going right?
  6. Who is involved? How many people?
  7. What feedback do we receive about current processes?
  8. What are the most common complaints?

At Nintex, we strongly recommend that enterprises start with process mapping and documentation. Process mapping allows you to visualize your processes clearly so that the questions above can be answered and you get a comprehensive understanding of the current state of processes at your organization. Then you can plan and figure out which automation technologies you need to optimize your processes.

Understanding workflow automation

What is workflow automation?

Workflow automation brings the different steps of your processes together. The steps between tasks flow automatically, ensuring that people are informed when they are required to perform an action (for instance, if other colleagues are waiting on them to carry out a task) and any issues are automatically flagged and directed to someone to fix. Bottlenecks are minimized, as slow and inefficient clogs in the workflow are no longer left to build up.

Why workflow automation?

With workflow automation, you can:

  • Reduce tedious and time-consuming processes, including paper-based processes
  • Increase productivity, by allowing employees to focus on higher-value tasks
  • Streamline and speed up processes, as tasks are completed faster
  • Optimize processes by reducing risk and human error

Here are examples of how workflow automation can optimize processes across lines of business.

  • HR – Workflow automation joins up the people, tasks, and systems that HR processes rely on. From onboarding and offboarding processes to the entire employee lifecycle, you can ensure that documents are shared and meetings are scheduled in an optimal way.
  • Sales – From managing opportunities to creating sales proposals, workflow automation makes sure the right people are signing off on sales at the right time, with no delays for customers.
  • Finance – Automated workflows ensure that financial operations are always compliant with regulations and policies. This can be especially useful for processes like payroll and expense reporting.

A crucial part of a bigger picture

Organizations sometimes fail to derive full benefit from process automation because they limit themselves to just one type of automation.

Workflow automation is important in automating the stages of the workflow. But it is even more important when you consider its role in the bigger picture of automation technologies. For instance, robotic process automation (RPA) is great at solving rote and repetitive tasks; it mimics human keystrokes and mouse movements. But when a task requires judgment, RPA can’t help you. With workflow automation, you can make sure an employee is brought in at the right stage to review these judgment tasks.

This is a simple but important example of how these technologies can and must work together. Don’t invest in technology for technology’s sake; invest in process automation as part of a wider strategy that drives your business forward.

Optimizing processes with Nintex

The Nintex Platform provides a full suite of automation tools to improve process management, including:

  • Workflow automation
  • Robotic process automation
  • Process mapping
  • Forms
  • Mobile apps
  • Document generation
  • eSignature
  • Process analytics

What’s more, with low-code tools and drag-and-drop interfaces, these technologies are now easier to deploy and manage than ever before. Widespread digital transformation can flourish from initiatives led by the line of business. When every team, from finance to HR, is optimizing processes and can quickly demonstrate the benefits on operational efficiency, it becomes a powerful conduit for change. You can not only improve process management but also achieve real, effective, and long-lasting digital transformation.

 

 

To learn more about workflow automation and the Nintex Platform can help your organization optimize processes and improve process management, contact the Nintex team today.