Workflow automation – what is it?
Workflow automation is the process of replacing manual work with digital tools and automating it.The process is usually performed on a single platform with different features that simplify the daily tasks within a few minutes. With the help of business preset guidelines, workflow automation can ensure business policies are followed while standardizing work.
In implementing this process, we intend to eliminate the human error that is common in everyday tasks. Workflow automation can effectively achieve the desired outcome at the workplace, ensuring accuracy and consistency in business processes. Further, it simplifies the process of streamlining business operations without involving humans.
Workflow automation: 7 effective steps
There are seven steps to creating an effective workflow: planning, execution, and review. When you follow these steps, you will be able to arrange your work in a way that is understandable and repeatable.
How come seven steps?
Think of these seven steps as a workflow template to maximize impact and minimize work about work. Workflows ensure that your team gets right to work rather than spending several hours – or even days – putting together information, holding unnecessary meetings, and communicating redundantly.
Each of the seven workflow steps equips your team with the data, information, and assets they need to get started quickly. Our team creates a clear plan of action, making sure everyone knows what needs to be done and when the deadlines are.
By capturing repeatable processes, you won’t have to re-invent the wheel. For workflow automation to be effective, it must be built into a shared tool that tracks information in real-time.
Step 1: Brainstorming and gathering information
An idea is the starting point of every workflow. There are times when ideas come fully formed, and other times when your team embarks on a brand new initiative with some guiding principles.
The next stage in the workflow process involves gathering unstructured information and brainstorming ideas for your project. Before moving on to the next step, consider if there are any project limitations, restrictions, or requirements.
The team brainstorms some initial ideas, shares inspiration from favorite website home pages, and creates very high-level mockups in your brainstorming tool, Miro.
Step 2: Intake of requests
Ensure that your project plan and details are ironed out once you have a general idea of what you’re working on. Don’t forget to capture any business information, data, or data that is relevant to this stage of the workflow. Your work is ultimately informed by the process and stakeholder involvement you build.
- Defining your project objectives and SMART goals will help you stay on track
- Create a project charter or develop a project brief based on your charter
- Create and share a high-level project timeline, including a project plan
- With a RACI chart, identify key stakeholders in the project
- Plan a project kickoff meeting
- Prevent scope creep by defining your project’s scope
- Identify milestones and final deliverables of your project
All of these materials may not be necessary for every workflow, but be sure to generate enough material to inform the rest of the project work. It is unnecessary to ask for clarity, context, and information about work.
Step 3. Prioritization and resource allocation
It’s time to put your plan into action – and the first step is to allocate resources. Visualizing your processes will help you prioritize and assign work according to team capacity.
Workflows that work don’t just maximize productivity or get as much work done as possible. They make room for creativity as well. If done correctly, workload management maximizes employee performance and eliminates chaos, leaving you and your team feeling satisfied rather than overwhelmed at the end of every day.
It is also necessary to automate this step in the workflow to make it repeatable. Using workflow automation, you can accurately route work to the right team member once you’ve determined each team member’s capacity. Defining each project’s priority and empowering team members to adjust deadlines as necessary will help them deliver their highest-impact work.
Step 4. The development and review of the project
As you develop project deliverables, review and iterate through stakeholder feedback loops, and finally get approval from stakeholders, this is the meat of your workflow.
Many of these tasks are manual without a streamlined workflow—and finding the right file at the right time is difficult. Keep all your team documents and approvals in one central location, which reduces the unnecessary work of searching for documents and chasing approvals.
In an environment where communication and documents are shared in one place, team members spend less time discussing work and more time on their actual tasks. Take action by automating the process to surface the information you need at exactly the right time.
Step 5: Track your progress
Keeping your team on the same page about work is a crucial aspect of any workflow. Often, project data is dispersed across multiple tools – to report on a project’s progress, you have to switch between them and manually collect data in one place.
Manually duplicating work is a waste of timeand no one needs a status meeting to discuss it.
Share project status updates right where the work is being done so that everyone knows what is happening right where the work is being done. When your project lags behind schedule, your status report alerts stakeholders to the problemand what you plan to do to fix the problem.
Step 6. Getting approval
There are times when all you need is one last approval, but getting it can be a challenge. Leadership is often busy. Even though you only need a quick sign-off from them, their time is valuableand difficult to obtain. By automating the approval process, stakeholders can offer their final approval clearly and simply.
Step 7: Report
It doesn’t matter whether a project is a resounding success or if there are some bumps in the road, there is always something to be learned. In the final step of a workflow, you report your progress and dive into the data to determine what worked and what needs to be improved. In this way, you can optimize the workflow for future projects—or refine it for current ones.
Automating workflows can help companies reduce the number of manual tasks performed by employees, freeing them up to focus on more important tasks. This will likely boost employee morale and increase overall productivity since workers will be able to finish more work in less time.
Companies can achieve better results with workflow automation. The automation of an area allows companies to produce higher quality products with fewer increases in costs and time. As a result of workflows, more revenue can be generated with fewer expenses.