Business Workflow Automation 101: What Are the Basics?

Business workflow refers to the series of tasks that are during a workday. When technology is employed to carry out these tasks automatically, we can say that the workflow is automized. Modern, cutting-edge computer technology allows for practically effortless automation of numerous business activities, which comes with some major perks. Automating a business can, among other things, increase productivity, cut costs, and reduce the margin of error. Thus, if you’re looking to learn how to proceed with an automation process for your business, here are the basic steps to take in your journey.

Identify the processes that need to be automated

While business workflow automation offers some major benefits, keep in mind that not all processes require automation. Thus, the first step to automating workflow is to do a careful review of all the tasks to identify those suitable for automation. One way to do this is by drawing up a list of all the processes that constitute the workflow. Then, try to visualize them being performed automatically by a computer. If automation enhances and simplifies the process, then it’s eligible for automating. On the other hand, you may find that a particular task needs a human touch. In any case, make sure that you don’t go overboard with automation and in turn disrupt the workflow. Pieces of work most fitting for this undertaking are those that require repetition and/or are performed on a schedule. For example, you may receive an influx of emails from clients on a regular basis. Taking too long to respond to them can lead to losing customers. Therefore, setting up automatic emails that inform them that someone will reach out shortly can be a simple but effective way to retain customers.

Set your priorities straight

Having established which tasks benefit from automation, the next move is to sort them according to priority. This is especially significant for small businesses because their budget may not allow them to automate all the processes that were selected during the first step. Despite being cost-effective in the long run when integrated correctly, automation brings additional expenses. Thus, it’s better to determine the budget that you can allocate for this purpose and calculate the return on investment. Additionally, it’s recommended to start with smaller, less complex tasks, to make it easier for everyone to adapt to the transformation.

Choose an adequate automation solution

Opting for an automation solution that matches your business model and goals are essential. Make sure that the automation systems you select enable seamless integration with each other. When discussing the automation of a business, the most frequent association is the use of software to perform office duties automatically. However, this concept is not exclusive to office work. It can be extended to virtually any industry, including the construction industry. For example, efficient construction workflow automation can be achieved through autonomous construction machinery and data fusion platforms, such as Perspio. The said platform is a practical tool able to automate a diverse number of processes, including placing an order whenever there is a shortage of certain supplies. In the case of fuel, the data gathered by fuel-level sensors is transmitted to the platform, which upon analysis determines when to notify the fuel contractor.

Test out the automated processes

Selecting tasks to be automated and applying a solution isn’t where this process should end. The newly automated workflow needs to undergo testing to verify that everything works properly. You need to discover as many errors as possible before the final implementation. This will help you avoid the risk of compromising your business with avoidable blunders, and suffering a financial loss.

Help employees adapt to the transformation

Introducing automation can create confusion and chaos in the workplace if the workers aren’t prepared for it. Since achieving employee satisfaction in a small business is of the utmost importance for a healthy and productive work environment, you should help them adapt to the changes. You can do this by explaining why these innovations were necessary and how their duties may be modified. A well-designed, interactive training program can also be a viable solution.

Include automation maintenance

After finalizing the incorporation of automated workflow, you should keep monitoring it. By doing so, you may discover previously overlooked mistakes. Additionally, as technology keeps advancing, new tools are emerging, so switching things up from time to time to adapt to these changes are inevitable. The gained experience with automation tools will enable you to recognize potentially better solutions.

The lesson wrap-up

Certainly, workflow automation is a modern-day solution to combating work overload and staff shortage, and in some cases, ensuring the safety of the employees. However, it can be easy to get carried away and try to automate every single aspect of a business with fancy new technology. The consensus is to ensure that automation adds a certain value to a particular task rather than being strictly implemented for the sake of automation.

Author Bio

Lilly Miller is a freelance writer, who focuses on the latest business trends, commercial design, and environmental issues. She also loves to experiment on daring new home decor trends and write about it as a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator. Settled in Sydney for the time being, Lilly shares home with two loving dogs and a gecko named Rodney. You can find her hanging out on Twitter.

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