Workflow Automation: How to Speed Up Your Business Processes with Software & Technology
Workflow automation is a modern solution to time-consuming business processes. Instead of wasting your employees’ time – and your corporate resources – on repetitive administrative tasks, technology can complete the work behind the scenes. Operations become faster and less expensive, and you’ll have a more reliable way to complete your workflows at scale as your company grows.
What Is Workflow Automation?
Workflow automation describes the use of technology to increase the efficiency of a workflow. This cutting-edge form of technology ensures that the right tasks are completed at the right time – and in the right order.
Automation is not necessarily a “plug and play” solution, but rather a custom strategy that improves your company’s existing operations. It helps you simplify your current workflows by removing unnecessary steps, and by shifting repetitive tasks to a computer. It’s not intended to replace your employees, or re-work your existing strategies; it’s simply a way to start working smarter.
What Workflows Can You Automate?
Every business has processes – both internal and external – that keep it running smoothly. Some are simple, while others are more complex. However, the more data-driven and less analytical that a specific workflow is – the better candidate it is for automation.
Some of the most commonly automated workflows include:
- Data entry
- Sales order processing
- Quality assurance approvals
- Invoice processing & coding
- Exception handling & management overrides
- Employee onboarding
- PTO approvals
- Customer service responses
- Safety & compliance logging
While it’s possible to automate individual tasks, the most noticeable improvements come from automating an entire process from end to end. For instance, automating the collection, distribution, authorization, and payment of supplier invoices can streamline your procure to pay cycle by as much as 80 percent. On the order to cash side, automating the collection, approval, and processing of your customer’s sales orders can help you reduce your lead times and fulfillment costs.
One thing to keep in mind: many workflow automation solutions are designed for one or two specific processes. Point solutions are easier to implement at first, but they tend to limit your options as you look to expand your automation initiatives in the future as they don’t offer broad support or compatibility.
For instance, let’s say you decide to automate Accounts Payable as your first project but have made it your goal to automate Sales Order Processing the following year. If you were using a niche platform for Accounts Payable, you would have to invest in a separate solution for your expansion projects. That’s not only a challenge for your budget but also another technology for your IT team to maintain. If you’re planning to automate operations across multiple departments, a scalable, multi-use platform is likely to have a lower total cost of ownership.
How Can Workflow Automation Benefit Your Business?
There’s virtually no limit to the efficiencies that can be created when utilizing workflow automation to streamline your business processes. Why force an employee to perform highly repetitive, manual tasks when those tasks can be performed in less time with a reduced margin of error? Workflow automation allows your business to unlock previously untapped avenues for revenue by liberating your employees from the parts of their job that prevent them from using their true strengths — and the benefits don’t stop there.
Lower Operating Costs
By reducing the amount of work that your employees need to complete manually, workflow automation makes your back-office processes less of a drain on your corporate resources. Recurring tasks become less expensive, and your employees have more time to spend on revenue-generating projects.
With automated workflow solutions, you can also scale up operations without having to increase your headcount. This not only helps reduce your expenses but also means that you don’t have to wait while new employees learn your established procedures.
Workflow automation also helps you prevent delays. When employees complete their processes one step at a time, it’s easy for a person to delete an email, forget a deadline, or get held up with another project. The more steps that make up a workflow – and the more people that are involved – the more chances there are for things to fall through the cracks.
Technology isn’t prone to the same issues. Computers use rules-based instructions to move each workflow through to completion. With an automated process, steps don’t get skipped, and delays don’t hold up your business.
Automated solutions make collaboration easier, too. When several team members all need to contribute to a project – especially in a predetermined order – workflow prompts help to eliminate confusion regarding what needs to be done (and when.) This keeps operations flowing smoothly.
Manual data entry is prone to errors – especially when it’s done at high volume. With automation, you don’t have to worry about incorrect information being keyed into your business systems. And, all of your processes are standardized, across each of your departments and business units – which means reliable results, every time.
Business Workflow Automation Software From IntelliChief
IntelliChief’s workflow automation solution is designed for the enterprise – helping you become much more efficient across every level of your business. Our software can mirror the procedures you already have in place – which means there’s no disruption to the procedures you’ve already established.
Custom Workflow Mapping
We design custom solutions for each of our customers – and it all starts with workflow mapping. We’ll help you map out your most common procedures, eliminate unnecessary steps, and “teach” your platform how you work. We’ll build out end-to-end processes for each of your operations, and you can add new ones as your company grows. (As part of our approach to business process optimization, we’ll also review the way you’re using your software, and help you determine if there are any new ways that you can use your solution more effectively.) You keep complete control over your workflows, and can easily modify them without expensive coding. Our drag-and-drop workflow designer helps you conceptualize, visualize, and streamline new processes as you go.
Our software is designed to learn your preferences. The more you use the IntelliChief platform, the more intelligent it becomes.
When you make certain changes, our software remembers them for the next time it encounters the same workflow. For instance, it can learn when your internal team uses a different part number than your supplier, or when you need to pay a particular vendor within a specific time frame to collect an early payment discount.
Custom ERP Integrations
Your ERP already acts as the “central command” for your business, which is why our workflow software integrates directly with each of its modules to help you complete your established tasks. IntelliChief can integrate with any ERP – even if you use more than one – to let you re-purpose your stored data across each of your individual systems.
Our solutions integrate in real-time, which means that you’re able to sync information as soon as it’s received. You don’t have to wait for a pre-scheduled system update to get full visibility into every project’s status.
Comprehensive Support Throughout the Automation Process
Workflow automation is an ongoing process – and we’re here to help at every step of the way. From setting up custom rules to adding new users and access permissions, we can guide you through your entire transformation. We’ve worked with companies across a variety of industries – from manufacturing and distribution to construction and rentals – and can use our expertise to help you create a comprehensive solution for your business.
Ready to see how workflow automation can make life easier for your team? Contact IntelliChief for more information, or visit our Resource Library to learn how other companies are putting an end to time-consuming processes once and for all.