What Is Workflow Automation?

3 min read
  • Information Technology
  • Process Automation

Every business’s day-to-day operations can be broken down to its compromising tasks and communications. While changes in the organization may cause a rift in the system, most of these daily processes – also called workflows – are routine and stay rather consistent despite outside disruptions or changes.

When businesses go beyond just performing these actions, and design new strategies or deploy innovative technologies to enhance their operations, they can achieve a higher level of efficiency and accuracy in business processes, while saving valuable resources. One of the best ways to achieve those goals is with workflow automation.

Read on to learn what workflow automation is, and how designing new workflows can improve business processes across the enterprise.

What is workflow automation?

Workflow automation is the digitization and automation of business processes to reduce manual labor and process inefficiencies. In addition, workflow design refers to the creation of these digital workflows.

When a business process has many steps, it can be difficult to eliminate bottlenecks, miscommunications and even mishandling of information. Workflow automation aids in removing human error, speeding up reviews and approvals, as well as providing insight into how you can improve these workflows going forward.

What types of workflows can be automated?

There are a few things to consider before your first workflow design. Although any workflow initially designed to require multiple, manual steps are strong candidates, below are a few examples of processes that can benefit from automation:

  • Filing, renaming or making changes to a document
  • Reviewing and approving document changes
  • Notifying others when a change to a document has occurred
  • Onboarding new employees
  • Accounts payable processing
  • Managing records retention and storage
  • Managing and making changes to vendor contracts
  • Maintaining process visibility with process management reports

What does the best workflow automation software do?

A workflow automation software solution should improve productivity, consistency and transparency across the enterprise when you use it to design new or improved workflows. When considering workflow automation, look for a solution that can:

  • Route documents in response to content creation or status updates
    • Provide functionality to notify stakeholders of changes to or the creation of documents, as well as automatic filing capabilities.
    • Extend automation across departments and integrate with existing applications
      • Automate complex processes like vendor and contract management, invoice processing, travel and expense management and records management.
      • Integrate with third-party and legacy systems for the seamless flow of information across the enterprise.
    • Enable real-time editing and monitoring access to documents, workflows and reports via laptop, desktop or mobile devices.
    • Monitor, report and analyze business processes
      • Provide reporting dashboards that enable process managers to view each step of a workflow to eliminate bottlenecks and improve processes over time.
      • Offer the capability to present users with a full history of all business process steps related to a document in the workflow.
    • Provide a customized workflow designer for building a business process automation solution for every need
      • Enable information extraction from external sources, such as PDFs or digital forms, for automated decision-making and process updates.

Workflow automation is an important step in an organization’s digital transformation. By optimizing processes across departments, businesses can save valuable resources while improving operational speed, accuracy and transparency both internally and externally.

For an overview of how process automation can help your organization streamline operations, watch our webinar, ECM 101: An Introduction to Process Automation Capabilities.

Ready to learn more about workflow automation and how to design the right solution for your organization? Download our Process Automation Buyer’s Guide.

Download the Process Automation Buyer's Guide

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