• Nannette Ray

Workflow Automation: What is it? Does my business need it?

Before discussing workflow automation, let us begin by defining workflow. Workflow is “how” you get work done. It is a sequence of tasks you and/or your team complete in a repeatableprocess as part of your business. The keyword here is “repeatable”. It is not a one-time to-do or a unique project. It is a series of tasks that occur in a sequence and something you or your team do on a regular basis.

An example of a workflow would be payroll processing. That is a workflow that includes multiple tasks that occur on a regular basis, usually weekly, bi-weekly, or bi-monthly. Workflow automation is basically adding automation to a process repeated on a regular basis.

Workflow automation can be a HUGE benefit to small businesses because their owners usually have limited time, resources, and staff. Below are three benefits of workflow automation.

  1. Reduce Errors – automated tools can reduce errors that may occur due to missed steps or oversight from people.

  2. Increase Productivity – the beauty of automation is that machines do not take vacations, breaks, or call in sick. This will ensure that repetitive tasks can continue even when you are short staffed or busy.

  3. Remove Human Element– By automating repetitive processes, you free up your team to focus on other tasks, such as customer service, sales, etc.

Okay, so now you have a better understanding of the benefits of workflow automation. Now let us discuss five (5) smart tips for introducing automation to your business:

  1. Document Your Current Processes – Before you begin to automate a workflow, please document the current process thoroughly. This will allow you to review the process on paper and determine any potential issues prior to automation.

  2. Go Slow and Prioritize – Automating a repetitive workflow will save you time and resources exponentially. However, you want to take your time up front to ensure the best possible outcome. First start by creating a list of which workflows (when automated) will have the largest impact on the company. Then prioritize by how much work, effort, risk, or costs are involved in implementing each.

  3. Consider Solutions Already Available – Before automating a process, researchwhat proven solutions are available. By leveraging existing products, you can connect them together, and save yourself time and money.

  4. Start Small and Simple – Begin with a process that is useful, small, but simple. This will allow you to learn about how your company adapts to change. These lessons can be used in the future, when preparing for bigger projects.

  5. Solve a Specific Problem– Ensure that any automation you implement solves a problem. To innovate because it is cool, can waste time and money, if the innovation does not solve a problem.

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Other Resources

  1. 9 Creative Ways To Streamline Your Workflow with Task Automation

  2. 12 Ways to Automate Your Business and Boost Efficiency

#smallbusiness #workflow #automation #process

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