How workflow management software is fast becoming a mainstay for organisations looking to save time and help teams collaborate better.
Indeed, the workflow automation industry is predicted to reach $39 billion by 2027, up from $8.07 billion in 2019, according to a recent report.
So what’s all the hype about?
In this blog, we’ll take a look at what workflow management systems are, how it benefits your team operations, and what processes you can automate. But first – let’s understand exactly what we mean by workflows.
What is a workflow?
A workflow describes a sequence of events or tasks – usually performed in a certain order – that need to take place to achieve a particular business process or goal. In most cases, a workflow is something that happens on a regular basis.
Say you needed to report a technical issue. A basic workflow for this process would look like this:
- Identify a problem
- Locate the right team member to contact
- Summarise the problem in an email
- Send the email summary to the relevant employee
- Wait for the issue to be resolved
This is a relatively simple workflow, but there is still ample opportunity for human error. For instance, emails can easily get buried in busy inboxes, and so important messages get overlooked. Or, if the incorrect team member is contacted, this leads to wasted time and potentially confidential information landing in front of the wrong person.
More complex business processes – like employee onboarding or purchase order requests, for example – require a much more involved workflow, with multiple steps, teams, and even approval stages. So trying to manage workflows as complicated as these manually or via email would be extremely difficult, prone to mistakes, and time consuming.
What are the benefits of workflow management software?
So we now know what workflows are, and that they need a helping hand to work efficiently.
This is where cloud based workflow management software comes in. It reduces the manual input needed to push a process forward, doing all the legwork so your teams don’t have to.
Taking our simple workflow example above, you can use workflow management software to set up an automation that notifies and assigns technical issues to the right team members, and automatically lets the reporter know when the issue is resolved – without any manual intervention needed.
Ultimately, the software exists to make workflow and process management as hands-free as possible. This will benefit your teams and business operations in multiple ways, such as:
- It saves time from manual busywork, allowing your teams to focus on creative and strategic projects instead.
- Quicker turnaround times for business processes. Workflow management software automatically completes or assigns tasks at predefined timescales, so each stage can be processed a lot faster.
- Automation reduces human error, improving the accuracy of your business processes and data.
- Once set up, workflow automations are pretty low maintenance – your teams can just let the software do the heavy lifting in the background.
- Tasks are easier to digest and prioritise thanks to different view types, such as lists and kanban boards.
Why is a workflow management system important for team operations?
Without those repetitive, manual tasks standing in your teams’ way, you’ll find that your business operations – from project management through to HR – will become much more streamlined.
This has a knock-on effect of making your teams more productive, because they’re not getting bogged down or frustrated by mundane tasks. By automating the admin, teams can focus on bigger-picture projects that will bring your organisation value.
Automating workflows will improve your team collaboration and communication too. Relying on emails for task management is slow and involves a lot of back and forth, whereas workflow management software makes the conversation much more streamlined.
For example, when one team member completes a stage in a process, the system will automatically assign it to the next relevant person and send them a notification to let them know action is required.
What business processes can I automate with workflow management software?
The short answer – almost anything!
Every team in your organisation – from marketing to HR and finance – will have their own set of business operations that make their processes flow.
Let’s take a look at some workflow examples for each of these departments:
Blog idea generator
Help your busy marketing teams produce engaging content by creating a workflow that captures blog ideas from across the company.
Staff can submit their idea using a form on your intranet, which gets automatically pinged to your marketing team for review. If they accept the blog proposal, it can go through various stages such as “pending production”, “editing”, and “proofreading”, until the final “published” step.
By using workflow automation software, blog ideas can be generated quickly and with no toing and froing over email.
That employee onboarding workflow we mentioned above? You can set up a workflow automation to facilitate the process and make your new recruit’s journey into your business as smooth as possible.
Create a form to capture new starters’ details, and use automations to trigger essential onboarding tasks such as signing off paperwork, creating account logins, and scheduling team introductions. Doing so will streamline the process and free up your HR team’s time from repeating the same tasks for every new employee.
Purchase order request
Finance teams are often handling multiple repetitive tasks. But accuracy in this field is absolutely critical. Concentrating for long periods of time on the same thing is bound to lead to mistakes.
Utilising workflow software to manage the monotonous will enable your teams to focus their attentions on more valuable projects.
Purchase ordering is a prime example of a workflow that can be automated. Instead of entering details manually – risking human error – staff can select from predefined items and let the software automatically calculate total costs.