When it comes to productive starts to the day, everyone has their own routines and rituals. Whether it’s exercising first thing, eating a healthy breakfast, or planning the day out the night before, methods like this can help kickstart our mornings.
As effective as they are, we’re focusing on something else that can help us be more productive when we’re at work: software and technology. Time-consuming and inefficient business processes can impede our productivity, leaving us with little time to focus on the more meaningful and important aspects of our roles. When technology can take care of these tasks for us, however, our productivity can skyrocket, saving us countless hours and giving us time to carry out fulfilling duties instead.
Workflow automation is one such way we can be more productive. Below, we’ll take a look at workplace automation in more detail, show you how it can benefit your operations and walk you through several different ways it can allow you and your team to be more productive.
What is workflow automation?
Workflow automation is the process where manual tasks are replaced by software that performs these tasks independently, with minimal human intervention, by following defined business rules. When it’s implemented properly, this type of automation improves productivity, allowing teams of all kinds to work smarter, rather than harder.
To do this, your business must first identify specific tasks. Next, you then need to create rules and logic that govern how those tasks should be done. Typically, these are a series of if-then statements that, essentially, tell the program what actions to take and how to move from one task to the next.
It’s important to remember, though, that while workflow automation can support day-to-day operations, it cannot replace human processing altogether. Indeed, the extent to which physical intervention is required is broadly dependent on the complexity of the process or task.
For example, automation is perfect for processing sales orders, with modern software able to automate most steps involved with little to no human interaction. With other workflows, however, automation instead acts as a support mechanism – ensuring that teams adhere to processes, stay up to date with tasks, and retain tight control.
What are the benefits of workplace automation?
Workplace automation can bring about all kinds of positives, including:
As we’ll show you later on, workplace automation can pitch in with a plethora of tasks, many of which your team would have spent countless hours completing themselves. By taking care of these repetitive, mundane tasks, your team can focus on duties that truly require their attention.
Decreased human error
Making errors is a very real, very human part of work, regardless of sector or industry. With workflow automation, however, identifying and correcting errors can drastically reduce the number of mistakes your business makes.
Along with stopping them from happening in the first place, your system can track down the exact location of the error within the workflow. From here, it’s a case of working out where things went wrong and stopping it from happening again.
The number of moving parts across any operation can make multitasking, especially when it’s done manually, a challenge. Workflow automation, on the other hand, is more than capable of keeping the plates spinning, whether it’s onboarding multiple employees, managing IT tickets, approving travel reimbursements or any number of similar tasks.
What’s more, all these tasks are organised into different processes across one workflow system, rather than multiple project boards, chat tools and emails, which makes accessing updates and information as confusion-free as possible.
Increased trust and transparency
By being able to view work in near-real time, everyone’s job and goals are defined as clearly as possible. This means that everyone knows what everyone else is working on, who is in charge of certain tasks, and what’s expected next.
This helps to build trust both within and between employees and the business as a whole, empowering your team to take a more active approach to their roles.
By automating processes and embedding an alert system which highlights deviations from processes management, you can retain tight control of the business without having to micro-manage daily processes and employees. This, in turn, improves efficiency and consistency, as well as giving you an (is there an end to this sentence?)
Using workplace automation to increase productivity
Streamline document storage and retrieval
Locating improperly stored documents can add hours to any task, which is not what you want from the start of your day. Sure, cloud storage software can make things easier, but if employees haven’t been trained up on organising digital documents, then tracking down important files can soon become a frustration. And when multiple employees are in charge of filing documents, inconsistencies and errors are bound to increase.
Workplace technology solutions like document management services can help make organisation simple and easy to use, meaning your employees spend less time looking for documents and more time putting them to good use.
Speed up email processing
Reading and replying to emails, especially at the start of the day, can put a real drain on your productivity. Thankfully, workplace automation can cut down the amount of time you spend dealing with them in several different ways.
Creating templates using data from your web-based contact form or with free-to-use template builders allows you to save time writing them afresh every single time. Through auto-response features, such as the Follow Up option in Outlook, you can flag emails that you need to reply to – handy for those who forget to answer emails once they’ve dropped off the front page of their inbox.
The sheer number of emails we receive can be an issue too. Whether it’s colleagues, family, friends or other businesses, the number can soon spiral, making it tough to divide important messages from junk. Through Gmail’s filter or Outlook’s rules features, you can automatically delete emails that contain specific messages, and sort emails into different folders based on who sent them and the content within.
Scheduling meetings needs a bit of trial and error at the best of times. Not only do you have to email everyone to check their availability, but you’ll also likely have to repeat the process should anyone cancel.
With tools like Calendly, however, you can automate your meetings far in advance through a link that contains meeting requests and time slots, so that everyone can mark their availability without sending the same message multiple times. It even integrates with your calendar too. Once everyone has picked a suitable time, Calendly logs the meeting in your calendar and sends you a notification of when it’ll be happening.
If you’re responsible for setting tasks for others on your team, then you’ll know it can be an arduous duty, especially if you’re using email to create said tasks. However, emails can often lead to miscommunication and confusion. Not to mention, they can be hard to track down after the fact, and some employees may just flat out miss them in the first place.
Workflow automation can help overcome these issues and improve task management. Along with notifying the recipient assigned to the task, you can follow up with them for updates automatically, which saves you the time you’d usually spend checking in, getting updates and having to update everyone manually.
Project communication, especially now that people are spread between remote workplaces and office spaces, can stymie progress in all sorts of different ways.
Luckily, the majority of workflow automation software features internal communication solutions that automatically notify team members of when phases of a project are done, or when particular documents have been uploaded. Through this, team members aren’t having to phone or email the relevant people, which means you can spend less time chasing up team members and more time properly collaborating with them.
Flexible process automation
With a built in business software automation tool like Intact iQ’s Nexus module, you have the power to automate countless tasks and processes, while also creating rules intended to maximise efficiency across your workflows. Designed to prevent routine tasks from eating up you and your team’s time, this kind of automation software is perfect for ensuring tight process control while also allowing you to manually authorise actions as and when they’re required.
Need to automate your business tasks, free up efficiencies, and optimise productivity? Our Intact iQ solution can help with that – and more. To see how it can help to future-proof your business, head here or get in touch with our team today.