A Guide to Workflow Automation and its Best Practices 

October 29, 2022
Alok Suman
Workflow Automation

A business process includes multiple workflows that run parallel to each other simultaneously. Most of the time, these workflows are carried out manually, which wastes valuable time, increases workloads, and has a high chance of errors. 

Let's take an email broadcast, for example. In this process, you’ll have to send the same email to thousands of email addresses. Now you know how hard it can be to send that many emails manually; it is tedious and detrimental. 

This is where workflow automation comes into play. You can build a workflow and set a trigger to start the workflow. 

Once you launch the campaign, the workflow automation platform will run your business processes on auto-pilot. In the case of the above example, the emails will be sent automatically to all the customers at the right time. 

So, what exactly is workflow automation, and why does your business need it? Find answers in this informative blog. 

What is Workflow Automation? 

Workflow automation refers to using a tool to build, execute, manage and troubleshoot a task without requiring manual assistance. Once the automation tool is configured, it can carry out the process on auto-pilot until the end conditions are met. 

By automating the tasks, you can save time and minimize the workload of your teams. It increases productivity and lets them focus on more valuable tasks that can be highly incremental to your business. 

Sending emails, submitting proposals, setting up reminders, scheduling tasks, and triggering an email series are some of the most common tasks automated by businesses.

Benefits of Workflow Automation

Increased Productivity 

A common misconception is that automation tools replace manual work, but this is not true. Workflow automation is used to help your teams by minimizing their workload; this will relieve pressure and increase productivity. 

Boosts Efficiency 

Tasks like sending emails, scheduling appointments, submitting proposals, etc., will only exhaust resources. Automating those repetitive tasks saves energy which can be focused on more valuable tasks. 

Cost-effectiveness 

As the tasks are carried out on auto-pilot, the process is completed quickly, saving time, energy, and resources, eventually minimizing expenses. 

Reduces Errors 

One of the major issues while handling repetitive and tedious tasks manually is the rise of errors. It is unavoidable as the process itself is long and time-consuming. But workflow automation eradicates this and delivers accurate results all the time. 

Speed 

As no human interaction is required, automation takes less time to complete the process, which is not the case when doing it manually. 

Better Engagement 

Automation ensures that all processes take place at the right time. This reduces any lapse in the process.

If you take emails, for example - all the employees will get an email at the same time when it is automated. This increases transparency and engagement. 

Enhanced Accountability 

Since the process of automation is pretty simple, it makes it easier to assign DRIs. Workflow automation also has its own dashboards, which makes tracking and accountability simple. 

Employee Satisfaction 

As automation takes care of all the cumbersome and repetitive tasks, it empowers employees to focus on more valuable things, increasing employee satisfaction. 

Examples of Workflow Automation 

Workflow automation is suitable for any industry, irrespective of size. The sales and marketing industries have completely switched to automation. Here are automation examples from multiple industries:

Sales

  • Process of creating a request for proposal and selecting a vendor.
  • Creating goods received notes after the product is received. 
  • Logging the inventory details for better product management. 
  • Generating sales quotations or renewal.

Marketing 

  • Sending email series to increase customer engagement and retention. 
  • Broadcasting emails to announce special news like Black Friday deals or other offers. 
  • Scheduling social media posts so they get published at the right time and are relevant to customer location. 
  • Segmenting customers to create individual buyer personas for better targeting. 

eCommerce 

  • Sending abandoned cart recovery emails after a customer abandons the cart without making a purchase. 
  • Offering discounts to loyal customers when they complete a milestone purchase.  
  • Wishing customers on special occasions to increase customer satisfaction and retain them. 
  • Sending transactional and post-purchase emails to keep customers thinking about your store. 

Human Resources

  • Scheduling interviews using automated calendar tools like Calendly.
  • Onboarding employees by providing them with resources and greetings from team members. 
  • Handling leave and other employee requests like maternity leave, sabbatical leave, etc. 
  • Wishing employees on their special days. 

IT 

  • Assigning tasks to team members after receiving the requirements. 
  • Managing issues that arise during production and assigning the bugs to directly responsible individuals.
  • Performing a complete check before deploying a build. 
  • Tracking the defects, assigning priority and severity, and tasking it to the DRIs. 

Using Software for Workflow Automation 

Are you wondering how to make workflow automation possible? 

Well, all you need is simple process automation software to run your business on autopilot. There is one major issue with automation tools, though - there are too many of them. 

Here’s what you need to look for in automation software. These factors will help you find the right one:

Usability 

The ultimate goal of workflow automation is to help business simplify their business process. So should the software; it should be simple and easy to use and navigate. 

Look for software that has a user-friendly interface, the best customer support, drag-and-drop builders, and one-click navigations. 

Cloud Support 

Ensure that the software has cloud-based storage and server capabilities. Standalone servers are highly susceptible to loss of data and security issues. 

Integrations  

Consider the fact you already have a business where you use multiple tools for various processes.

When you choose an automation platform, ensure that it is compatible with your existing tech stack. It must have custom APIs that enable seamless integration possibilities. 

Flexibility 

As we said in the beginning, a successful business is a coordination of multiple processes running simultaneously. So choose a platform that has the right features to handle all your requirements. 

Reporting and Analytics 

Your automation campaign is up and running. Now, how will you track its performance and check if it is working and yielding results as you intended? 

An ideal automation tool should have an intuitive dashboard that displays all the campaign analytics and KPIs in real-time. Only then can you measure the performance and make changes in your next campaign. 

Mobile Responsiveness 

Businesses expect that all their performance-related data should be available in their hands. Multiple automation tools let you build custom mobile applications, so select a tool with mobile capabilities. 

Low-code Automation 

This is the most important aspect to look for in an automation tool. To keep up in this competitive market, you must be quick and create easily accessible business processes. This is only possible with low code automation.

These platforms let you build complex applications without the need for coding expertise. You can use visual builders to create applications, reducing the developmental downtime that occurs in traditional development. 

Everyone on your team can use platforms like these without coding knowledge. They save costs and increase productivity greatly. 

Pricing  

Finally comes the most influential selection factor, pricing. Platforms with low pricing plans don’t mean they are better; some cheap platforms will have hidden charges that will make you regret choosing them. 

Perform thorough research, review articles from G2 and Trustpilot to see word of mouth surrounding the platform, and then take your decision. 

These factors will influence your selection process, so ensure you check all the boxes before choosing the right one. 

Workflow Automation Best Practices 

Identify the Process 

Before you start creating your workflow campaign, it is essential to identify which processes need to be automated. This will help you save time, focus on tasks, and reduce clutter. 

Consider advice from your team and stakeholders. Are they cool with you automating some of their tasks? Do not proceed with the workflow design until you finalize the processes that require automation. 

Visualize Your Workflow 

Even the simplest task might look complex if you don’t view it from the right perspective. The easy way to draw or visualize your workflow is through a flow chart or process workflow diagrams. 

By doing this, you’ll know the process that precedes and succeeds one another. Also, visual plans are more easily understandable across the team instead of a documented strategy. 

Understand End Goals  

Once you’ve visualized your workflow, you need to define your end goal and what you want the workflow to achieve or solve an issue. 

The end goals should be communicated to your team and stakeholders; this will align everybody's interests and help them make collaborative decisions. 

Without an end goal or target, your workflow will be moving forward with no destination, and you might end up losing control of your process. So, defining your end goals is crucial, and you must do it before starting your workflow. 

Plan for Every Bottleneck  

A process won't go according to plan every time. Sometimes it might go sideways. This happens even for larger scale and popular businesses, but they won’t worry about it because they would’ve already predicted an outcome. 

At times, your process might fail, or there might be a delay, or a few bottlenecks might appear. You should be prepared for these with a plan B.

Businesses that don’t have a plan B are the ones that suffer in successfully completing the business process. 

Train Your Team  

Alright, your workflow plan is ready, you’ve defined your end goals, and you have a plan B in case things go sideways. The next best practice is to train your team so that they can make informed decisions. 

Communicate your plans with your teams and stakeholders, and upskill them before your assign automation tasks. This will reduce uncertainty and help your team invest their full potential to make the process successful. 

Track and Improve

Your team is now ready. Prioritize the tasks and start designing your workflow using the automation tool. Configure every aspect from start trigger to end conditions and once you’re done, launch the campaign. 

Now, this is where most businesses fail; the best practice is not to abandon your workflow once you launch. The best practice is to dig into it; if the process fails, look for answers. 

Track its KPIs to see how it is performing. If you feel it is not returning the required results, make alterations to the workflow and launch the campaign again. 

Sometimes it is hard to get it right on the first try. A/B test your campaign, track the metrics and make constant changes to enhance the process. That is the only way you can truly achieve success with automation. 

Once you find the sweet spot where everything is working fine, you can document the changes you made and employ them in your future processes to make them successful. 

Final Thoughts 

Workflow automation is the activity of running a business process using an automation tool without the help of manual assistance. This approach is getting popular because of its robustness and other benefits it brings to the business.

In this article, you learned about the benefits of workflow automation and how to choose the right software that would make it possible.

Let's save you the search - there's one tool that checks all the factors listed above – and it's called Hubbler.

Hubbler is a business process management tool that lets you automate your business process. It doesn’t need any manual assistance - once the campaign is live, it can run the process on auto-pilot. 

It comes with drag-and-drop builders and seamless integration capabilities that can easily connect with your existing tech stacks. Put all the above-mentioned best practices to work using Hubbler. 

Get in touch with us to learn about pricing and how Hubbler can be beneficial for your business. 

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