Automated Workflows – Underestimated and Underutilised ?
There will always be room for, and considerable benefits to maximising Workflow Automation, particularly for progressive & growing entities.
Apart from the obvious immediate benefits such as workplace efficiency, which translates to benefits on the bottom line, workflow automation also manages mission-critical processes and eliminates unnecessary, ‘busy’ paperwork.
Workflow Automation is easily underestimated or considered to be overcomplicated when in fact, it is designed to standardise and automate repetitive tasks in the business which increases efficiencies and frees up your team to focus on other tasks. Eliminating bottlenecks, it also increases accuracy and transparency and provides real-time insight into ways to improve business processes across the organisation and identifies the need for and, facilitates staff development and training.
Given the requirement for data security, GDPR compliance and risk management in business today, workflow automation enables you to establish and enforce policies, mitigating the risk of process noncompliance. Most importantly, via easy to use reporting tools, you can measure the success of your workflow, your business and your teams via easy-to-use reporting tools.
More than anyone, paper-heavy businesses such as Local Government and Financial Services benefit from the ability to accelerate document review and approval by routing documents to single or multiple users as required, tracking exactly where documents are in the process and who is working on each document at any one time.
When you peel back the layers and multiple benefits across your departments, they all come back to two main gains for your company: cost control and process improvement.
We have experienced first-hand the positive impact of workflow automation solutions that we implemented in Monaghan County Council and the Galway Roscommon Education Training Board (GRETB).
When asked to summarise what they feel are the top 3 key benefits of Workflow Automation, our IT and Solutions team were unanimous in their response:
At first, workflow automation can seem daunting but given that most automation software is easily integrated with your existing business applications, the possibilities expose themselves very quickly and adopting the new technology is relatively straightforward.
Workflows are easily created, adapted and developed upon as your business evolves, and this also reflects the needs of each division within your company. Each department will have many tasks that can be automated, ensuring that each area of your business becomes more efficient, enabling them to grow and develop in other aspects.
Fixing problems becomes easier also. With workflow automation, you build the system, so you understand how it works and what to change, in order to improve the process.
Saving time leads to increased productivity. If you spend less time doing repetitive work, you can use that time elsewhere.
Studies have analysed the potential of automation in the workplace and reached some startling conclusions. According to McKinsey’s analysis:
- Out of 2000 work activities (across 800 professions), 45% could be automated, including processing sales transactions, demonstrating product features, and answering product questions
- Among business processes, 60% of occupations could save up to 30% of their time with automation, including the review and approval of paperwork, generating sales leads, and processing large documents. Automation can surface content that is particularly relevant, meaningful, or exceptional so that professionals are free to focus only on situations that require their expertise and intelligence
- Nearly 20% of CEOs’ time is spent on work that could be automated. Automatable tasks include reviewing status reports, preparing staff assignments, and analysing operational data
- Finally, just 4% of common workplace activities involve human creativity, and only 29% require a human ability to sense and respond to emotion
McKinsey points out that automation represents a tremendous opportunity to bring creativity and meaning to the workplace by replacing mundane and repetitive tasks with ones that require innovation and emotion.
The potential to free up 20-30% of every single workday for tasks that require intelligence, expertise, creativity, or sensitivity should not be underestimated.
Fewer Errors and Less Risk
No matter how well you manage your company or steer your ship, human error is unavoidable and resolving errors takes time and money. Whilst human error can never be fully eliminated, the implementation of workflow automation can certainly reduce the instances considerably. It covers work that doesn’t require human input or analysis, and that means more focus on business-critical tasks. Automatically handling repetitive tasks also allows employees to spend more time improving business-critical skills.
This means better-trained employees, fewer human errors and less risk.
To discuss your thoughts on workflow automation and to understand how it can become a key element of your workplace, speak to our IT and Solutions team about our range of products and services from Ricoh, Laserfiche, HP and many more on 01 217 8000 or email our team via firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author Mark Cashen