In order to answer a question like what is workflow automation?, we first have to start with something a bit more basic: what is workflow itself?
A workflow is a predefined set of steps that, as they are accomplished, result in the completion of a required task. By breaking down these steps in a sequential order, businesses – and the individuals within them – are able to see at a glance what’s been completed, what needs to happen next, and what the end goal is. In this way, workflows can be integral to productivity, especially when you add automation to the equation.
Below, we’re breaking down all of the essentials to know about workflows, including why workflow automation might just be the best method for achieving true operational efficiency.
What is Workflow?
A workflow is a defined process, broken down step by step and organized in such a way that the process seamlessly moves from task initiation to task completion. And while there are various ways these steps can be organized, the overall intent is for one step to trigger one or more other steps, ultimately resulting in the final step and a completed task.
Different Types of Workflow
- Case Workflow - Case workflows are used when the final step that will trigger the completion of the task is not yet known. An example of this would be a customer service request, where the exact resolution is highly variable based on the specifics of the case and the potential solutions. As the workflow progresses, it becomes increasingly clear what the resolution should be and how it should be achieved.
- Process Workflow - This is the most common type of workflow, and describes a sequential set of steps meant to accomplish a clear and predefined result. This type of workflow is predictable, scalable, and adaptable, and is often used again and again as needed. Situations where a process workflow would be useful include content development and new employee onboarding.
- Project Workflow - Project workflows are highly specific to one large objective, though they tend to have a lot of moving and variable parts within them. Rather than being replicated as needed, this type of workflow is used once and is highly targeted to a single defined end, such as a new product launch or the development of a new website. In many cases, there are a lot of team members involved in moving the workflow forward, though some may only have one or two small (but essential) roles to play.
Workflow Automation Definition
Even a manual workflow can have a lot of utility for a business. But if the goal is to reach peak productivity, then automating a workflow is usually the way to get there.
So, what is workflow automation? It’s an application-driven workflow where steps are triggered and completed based on rule-based logic, rather than through human intervention. Automated workflows run continuously and on their own, using preset guidelines to move through clearly defined steps.
Automated workflows are similar in many ways to algorithms, where an “if this, then that” model is used to trigger a desired action. Applications for workflow automation are broad, and include tasks related to marketing, scheduling, invoicing, payroll, and customer service. Basically, if a task isn’t complex enough to require continual human oversight, there’s a good chance it can be automated for increased efficiency.
Why Automate a Workflow?
There are a lot of benefits to workflow automation, including:
- Reduced chance for manual error
- Savings on time and labor
- Cost efficiency
- Faster task completions
- Increased scalability
- Increased productivity
- Better customer experiences
- Less need for rote task management
- Happier employees and improvements in work culture
By automating rote tasks, businesses gain significant advantages that can support operational growth in a number of key ways. And fortunately, getting started is a lot easier than it might sound, thanks to software tools that take the guesswork out of creating, managing, and scaling automated workflows.
What is Workflow Automation Software?
When it comes to finding that perfect workflow automation solution, there are options out there to fit every industry and every use case.
Sometimes referred to as workflow management systems, workflow automation software is a tool that allows businesses and individuals to plan and execute automated workflows with ease. And for businesses in need of a big picture approach to task automation, BPM platforms offer all of the benefits of workflow automation software with added tools for optimizing business processes across the board.
Whether it’s a robust BPM platform or a more general workflow automation tool, certain factors that most businesses should be looking for when choosing their solution include low-code implementation and maintenance, intuitive ease of use, and inherent scalability. Other features like built-in workflow templates can make a big difference in ensuring the platform can offer value from the get-go.
Put Workflows into Action with WEBCON
What will you do with all the time and resources that workflow automation saves you? Find out by putting workflows to work and discovering just how simple it really is to automate rote tasks and free up your hands for the more complex items on your to-do list.
We’ve developed a BPM platform that allows your business to create better, smarter automated workflows. Learn more about our workflow automation software, and get started today with a free demo of WEBCON BPS.