We all think we know what a workflow is, but could you give the technical definition if someone asked you? A workflow (or business process) is, in its simplest form:
“the sequence of industrial, administrative or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion”
What's a Workflow?
Workflow is the process which encompasses many small, definable tasks. These will be a culmination of events, actions, resources and specific jobs that ultimately link together to achieve the desired result. Workflows take on countless forms in the workplace, and can take anywhere from a day to be completed or 6 months.
As an example, a basic workflow process, such as paying the staff at the end of a month, should involve most (if not all) of these categories:
Initiating action - “We need to pay the staff”
Action - “Processing payroll”
Subsequent task - “Physical payments are made’
Resources - “Team managers, the accounts team, finance assistants”
Achieve result - “workers get paid!”
Workflow Automation... What Is It?
In a small company, the above process would be time-consuming to complete manually, but not an impossible task.
However, if we take a large business with hundreds or thousands of employees - each of whom need to be paid on the same day - your finance assistants are going to run themselves into the ground. This is where SharePoint workflows automation turns from a useful asset into a necessity. Automating the entire payment process would increase the speed, visibility and coordination by which it gets completed, and quite possibly save some workers pulling their hair out.
For many businesses such automation can save both time and money. And the best bit? Because many companies operate using digital tools like email, document management and systems like SharePoint, such automation isn’t too difficult to achieve. Often it is more of a case of stitching together existing tools.
Tools like Nintex makes this easy by presenting a graphical representation of a workflow, allowing boxes (representing functionality or data) to be pieced together like a jigsaw.
So, here are 10 reasons why Sharepoint workflows automation can assist your company!
1. Achieve Excellent Communication
One of the main reasons employees leave an organization is the perceived lack of communication with their colleagues and with management. Automating your workflows to provide a clear line of communication means no single person has to remember to tell the next in a successive chain of events that it’s now ‘their turn’.
2. Save Money
A business process automated software will be quicker and more efficient, saving you time and therefore money. If nothing else, this should be reason enough to invest in workflow automation software.
3. Remove the Risk of Human Error
Unfortunately, people make mistakes. Slow sale approvals, late payments and a lack of payment altogether are all errors and inefficiencies that cost money to set right. Workflow automation can show you the current state of any item, leaving employees with no more excuses for making mistakes (sorry!).
4. Empower Your Employees
No one likes to micromanage. The whole purpose of automated workflows is to save you time, and that time you save can mean your employees can focus their efforts on more valuable work. The great thing about software is it doesn’t get bored doing the same task over and over again, something which can’t be said for you and I.
5. Streamline Your Processes for Greater Insight
Offering a single, streamlined and repeated process in a single dashboard view. Having automated your business processes, your employee base has been using this new system for the past couple of months.
What are the possibilities for all the data that has been stored over that time? You now have insights on the amount of requests coming in: how many were approved, rejected, and how long they took to complete. This centralized data will help you see whether it’s making life easier or harder for your employees. We’re confident it will be the former!
6. Gain a Better Understanding of Your Colleagues Work Styles
When you automate your workflows, you create an owner for each step of the process. Initiations, approvals, rejections, and input are all bound to the individual who performed the action.
Therefore, utilizing automated Workflows will give you insight into who gets certain jobs done quickly and who struggles with keeping up with their workload. View certain employee’s areas of strength or weakness and mould the distribution of work accordingly.
7. Enable a Hierarchy
Not a hierarchy in the organizational sense, of course (we suspect most of you already have this!) A business process Workflow tool will have approval hierarchies self-implemented. This means managers don’t have to stress over each step of a process, and employees can get their projects approved with confidence.
8. Make It Easier To Stay In-The-Know
An effective business Workflow Management system can send both email notifications or mobile push notifications to remind employees of upcoming approvals. Users are far more likely to abandon and forget a platform if they are not reminded to use it on a regular basis. Users can also have the option to customize the kind of notifications they receive, making it unique to them.
9. Enforce Compliance
Many businesses have regulations and laws they need to comply with. Automated workflows are perfectly suited to this, as it means the relevant tasks will be completed on time to a high standard when they need to be. The repeatable and fault-free nature of workflow automation is perfectly suited to compliance.
10. Improve The Process Itself
Workflow automation will undoubtedly uncover new ways of working, that in turn can improve the actual business process and improve how the company itself thinks. Automated workflows will improve your company’s efficiency tenfold.