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What is workflow automation: A step by step guide

In this blog, we go back to basics and ask, “What is workflow automation?” We also look at how it works and the most common processes that can be automated at businesses like yours.

For over a decade now, workflow automation software has become increasingly popular across a whole range of industries, all of which are looking to improve and optimize common workplace processes. But there are plenty of businesses taking their first steps on this journey, looking to learn about workflow automation and how it can benefit their business. Here, we discuss what workflow automation is and outline the benefits for everyday businesses.

What is workflow automation?

Every organization, big or small, is made up of processes and workflows. And often many tasks are carried out manually, again and again and again.

The many steps of onboarding

Let’s consider one of the simplest workflows: onboarding. Every time a new employee starts at a company, several tasks will need to be completed by different people, in a clear order.

A series of documentation needs to be created and signed by either HR or the line manager and the new employee. IT equipment will need to be ordered and/or installed by the IT department, and any appropriate software licenses assigned. Employee details will need to be added to the relevant place in the IT system by the HR department.

In most organizations, there is a clearly specified order to this process. Most of these steps are manual, can be delayed, and are prone to human error. However, these all can be solved through workflow automation.

Workflow automation is the act of automating these processes. Using workflow automation software, employees can design digital processes that allow tasks, data, or files to be automatically assigned between people and systems.

How does workflow automation work?

Let’s discuss how this works, using the onboarding process example. By creating an automated workflow you can establish a clear structure that governs which employees complete which jobs in the process, with tasks and documents automatically being assigned to the relevant person.

From there, that person need only tick off or approve the relevant task, before the software assigns the next task to their relevant colleague.

Step by step, automatically

Once a job offer is accepted, for example, a member of the HR team, or the new employee’s line manager, initiates a new workflow to onboard that employee. From there tasks such as ‘provision equipment’, ‘prepare documentation’ and ‘assign software licenses’ are passed to the next person in the chain, be it HR workers or IT admins. When tasks are completed, the next stage is automatically assigned. The process then continues, through each stage, before all tasks are finished, and the process is marked complete.

With automation, workers can reduce bottlenecks and increase efficiency in their everyday processes, by ensuring that tasks are quickly and automatically assigned to the right person at the right time. From there, completing these tasks can be as simple as clicking a button. But as well as this, it also creates benefits for the employees, improving their working lives by reducing the number of repetitive administrative tasks in their working day, and freeing up time for more valuable work to be done.

How to start automating your business processes

Process automation can include everything from simple, everyday tasks like onboarding, provisioning, or expense filing to more complicated legal and compliance-based processes. There are some processes that will be common to most businesses (such as onboarding), and others which will be more specific to industries and individual businesses.

Every process will differ slightly from company to company, so it’s important to look for workflow automation software that’s both easy to implement and highly customizable. The last thing you want is to be stuck with out-of-the-box automated workflows that don’t suit your processes, or a solution that requires heavy, specialized coding knowledge to implement.

Nintex gives you the control

That’s where the Nintex comes in. Nintex is a process automation platform that’s highly customizable and easy to implement in any organization. It integrates with a range of common business applications, including Office 365, SharePoint, Adobe, Salesforce, Dropbox, Box, and much more. Nintex is a market leader in process automation technology and has a range of different automation technologies available that can be added to the workflow automation solution.

The beauty of the Nintex Platform is that you can use as many or as few of these features as you need for your business, only paying for what you use, and quickly scaling your usage up and down as required. So, if you’re looking to find out more about process automation, or you’re ready to get started automating today—there’s nowhere better to start than Nintex.


If you want to discuss how Nintex can help businesses like yours, get in in touch with our team or start your free trial.



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