Workflow automation is a broad term used to describe the design and execution of automated processes that were once manually performed tasks. Because each department within your organization has its own set of responsibilities, a significant amount of time is devoted to completing these tasks on a routine basis. When done by hand, things like finalizing reimbursements and approving leave requests become much more susceptible to errors. Plus, they’re a drain on employee morale thanks to their tiresome and inefficient nature.
The good news is, workflow automation handles these rote tasks almost effortlessly, so your team can get back to working on more interesting projects or value-added endeavors.
11 workflow automation examples that will help streamline your organization
Automating workflows at your agency can produce incredible results — from greater efficiency and accuracy, to improved productivity and job satisfaction. Yet, many people out there are curious or perhaps a bit confused as to how automation translates to your day-to-day operations. We put together eleven workflow automation examples to help give you a better idea of practical applications for automation and the many ways this can help streamline your organization.
1. Efficient employee onboarding
If you’ve ever had to manually enter information for a new employee, you understand just how tedious and time-consuming this process can be. The details contained within employee personnel records require a great deal of care, seeing as mistyping someone’s salary or social security number can have an unfortunate (and costly) impact on your organization.
Workflow automation supports efficient employee onboarding by delivering a standardized experience for every hire. Not only does automated, electronic onboarding prevent mistakes, but you can also wrap up employee forms and compliance documents ahead of their start date. This preparedness creates a positive impression on new team members and creates more efficiency for your onboarding team.
2. Automated data procurement
Data procurement involves the capture and use of relevant data to support fact-based (i.e. stronger, better) decision making. As you can imagine, this practice is quite important to the health and functionality of your organization; however, manual sourcing has a tendency to limit data procurement from reaching its full potential. Simply put, when procurement is done manually rather than automatically, the challenges to this process compound pretty quickly.
While manual procurement contributes to lost hours and weakened productivity, automated systems offer less risk, greater visibility, and maximized efficiency. The reason being, is that automation eliminates manual errors, lets employees view documents within a single click, and allows managers to position each team member where they’re needed most.
3. Organized expense reports
Finance departments are no stranger to outdated and error-prone manual processes, which includes the slog of creating expense reports. Employees who file these reports are typically well-versed in sifting through stacks of physical paperwork and countless spreadsheet details for hours on end. On top of wasting valuable time that could be used on more productive tasks, this approach can also be exposed to a myriad of mistakes or misinformation.
By contrast, adopting workflow automation makes expense reports much more productive. That’s because automation systems can arrange for mandatory fields and attachments, making it easier for managers to approve certain sections of the report while requesting amendments to others. Ultimately, using automation means less back-and-forth and significant time saved.
4. Better managed payment processes
A number of payment processes, like reimbursements, have traditionally involved a series of steps and approvals prior to their completion. For example, an employee might email an expense report to their manager, who then manually approves it and forwards it on to the finance department. From there, someone from finance must manually enter the report’s information before a check can be cut and delivered to the appropriate employee.
Workflow automation, on the other hand, can manage these payment processes with ease. With the right automations in place, once an expense form is routed to the finance team, that information is automatically looped into the electronic system — and the reimbursement is tacked onto the employee’s next paycheck. To expedite this process further, you can even establish rules to automatically approve ongoing employee expenses, like a monthly phone bill.
5. Faster approval for leave requests
Depending on the size of your organization, you might be dealing with a large volume of leave requests on a consistent basis. Did you know that workflow automation allows for quicker approval of these PTO requests, as well as greater organization overall? Rather than asking your team to email time-off requests to a manager, who forwards their approval to payroll and HR, workflow automation actually finalizes these requests within the system itself.
In other words, after a manager grants approval, this information automatically syncs with payroll and human resources (so there’s no need to enter it again manually). The automation software will also note when the employee is away, so you can make sure there’s not an influx of people requesting leave at the same time — thereby avoiding any issues with understaffing.
6. Simplified invoice generation
Invoice generation is a fundamental component of any accounting department, and yet, the efficiency of this recurring responsibility is not always prioritized. Moreover, creating invoices sometimes falls to other team members outside of accounting who may feel less equipped to carry out the task. Thankfully, workflow automation makes it possible to automate a variety of traditional accounting processes and similar sales-related activities.
The best workflow systems have automations to connect payment platforms with accounting software — like PayPal and QuickBooks, for example. This way, any time a transaction is completed with PayPal, an automatic invoice appears in QuickBooks. With this synchronization in effect, recurrent invoices can be sent on a set schedule to then free up lost time.
7. Upgraded customer support
If your agency is always on the lookout for ways to surprise and delight its customers, workflow automation is your ticket to upgraded customer support and an elevated experience overall. The fact is, customers want their questions answered and requests handled immediately — which certainly isn’t possible when relying on disorganized paper documents. But with the help of automation, you can readily close the communication gaps with these eager customers.
Automation dramatically reduces the time it takes to find an appropriate resolution and cuts down on errors in a big way. Examples of automation in action might include a customer service ticketing tool to record and organize every issue, or utilizing chatbots for 24/7 online assistance that guides customers through a chat flow based on choices they select.
8. Enhanced hiring process
Attracting talented and qualified candidates to your organization undoubtedly contributes to your long-term success. But how do you advertise an open position to ensure you find the right person for the job? The answer: automation. Workflow automation can enhance the hiring process by improving the reach of your listings and increasing the quality of your applicant pool.
Using automations, HR can instantly share job postings with current employees to encourage more referrals, schedule interviews and send automated interview reminders, and even send rejection letters to those applicants who didn’t adequately meet the job’s requirements. All of these efficiencies help to shrink the application-to-offer timeline, and give you a much better chance of finding the most skilled or knowledgeable person to join your team.
9. Instant task creation
It’s become pretty standard for employees to receive a task within an internal email — but while this practice may be commonplace, it doesn’t mean it’s ideal. The truth is, emailing tasks among colleagues or different departments often leads to miscommunications or missed information altogether. And this type of confusion runs counter to productivity, since it requires additional clarification as to the expectations and/or intentions of said assignment.
Fortunately, workflow automation boosts task and time management by creating to-dos directly from your emails. For instance, if someone sends you an email with a meeting date or an important deadline, that task can be automatically transferred to your preferred project management software. This modernized workflow helps guarantee no tasks are missed, and keeps team members on track to finish their respective tasks as scheduled.
10. Quicker handling of incident reports
Hopefully incident reports are few and far between at your organization, but they’re certainly something to handle with care whenever they occur. Given that incident reports involve multiple teams within your office place, they present a prime opportunity for automation. This is especially true considering incident reports are meant to be filed (and their issues resolved) as quickly as possible — which manual processes cannot promise.
When handled manually, incident reports are often held up while employees are waiting on pertinent information. But when these reports are sent electronically and automatically routed to the correct party, this information is received in mere minutes. Thus, by scaling back on wasted or misused time, employees can address matters (and move on from them) much faster.
11. Improved function of vaccination and testing records
Employee health records have become a widely discussed topic over the last few years, seeing as there’s been a tremendous uptick in this type of documentation via COVID-19 vaccination and testing records. In lieu of manually sorting through such an overwhelming volume of paperwork, agencies now have the option to incorporate workflow automation into this essential, yet time-consuming process.
With cutting-edge automation, employees can upload their proof of vaccination, while employers can streamline how they track vaccination status and approve test results. For states that require mandatory testing or immunizations, automation tools offer unbeatable transparency and minimized confusion when tracking large groups at once. In addition, automation also makes it much easier to produce records to OSHA for more straightforward compliance.
Automate business workflows with Image API
Workflow automation is a tried and true way to streamline manual tasks and amplify productivity among your team. But it’s not just human resources that can benefit from workflow automation — administration, finance, IT, marketing and customer support can all achieve greater efficiency via smart automations. If your organization is ready to eliminate its tedious paperwork and manual data entry for good, Image API is here to help you bring this vision to life.
Image API’s Software-as-a-Service model provides a user-friendly approach to automation, making it incredibly easy to implement so you can begin simplifying operational complexities right away. What’s more, Image API’s SaaS has a low cost of entry and a predictable investment over time, which translates to a low risk, high reward automation solution that delivers measurable success time and time again. Contact the team at Image API today to learn more about everything our innovative automation technology has to offer!