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Workflow automation software and automation technology are becoming increasingly popular for companies looking to recover and grow in a post-COVID landscape. In fact, Gartner predicts that 69% of routine work currently done by managers will be fully automated by 2024.
Workflow automation is known by many different names. For example, you may have heard workflow automation referred to as automated execution, process mapping, or simply work processes. No matter what you call it, workflow automation can make complicated business practices simpler to manage.
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A workflow is a process that handles object types arranged in a sequence of actions performed in steps. The term workflow applies to a variety of processes, including incidents, service requests, change requests, purchase requests, problems, and events.
Workflow automation is the process of automating a sequence of events, like file routing, information sharing, and human tasks between systems or people. In layman’s terms, when an internal signal, form fill, or action is completed, it triggers the next step. This might mean that it triggers information to be moved to a specific person or system, giving a streamlined, hands-off approach to repetitive tasks or processes.
Simply put: workflow automation is the force that allows the dominos of any task to fall into place.
To fully understand workflow automation, it is important to understand a few terms.
Automation simply refers to processes or procedures completed with minimal human interaction. Workflow automation software operates with a series of “If, then” statements. The “if” statements tell the software what to do if a specific action occurs. For example, IF the user indicates they have forgotten their password, THEN they should be routed to the password reset tool.
There are three main types of workflows:
In the words of Bill Gates: “…Automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency… Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
In other words: workflow automation software has several positive benefits when used properly.
These four benefits make workflow automation software a must-have for any organization:
Workflow automation software reduces the instances of human error, with fewer data entry points leading to fewer opportunities for broken data. Additionally, visualization of complete workflows can help ensure that important steps are not missed. Workflow automation also ensures that there is accountability in each step of each process.
When workflows (processes) are automated, it is far easier to be productive. On the technical end, increased automation using things like AI and self-help technology can decrease the amount of time each agent spends resolving issues by automating the more time consuming, repetitive processes.
Workflow automation tools also make it easier to identify areas that are inefficient or broken with visual reporting. These reports and metrics can refine both the customer and employee experience by identifying specific teams who are missing steps of the workflows. It will also help identify areas of redundancy within the workflow which can help with resource allocation and process changes.
On average, companies can save as much as $4 million annually by using automation software according to a 2017 report in Forbes. Improved data, productivity, accuracy, and accountability all lead to better budget optimization.
When choosing software for workflow automation, there are several important factors to consider. One of the main points of contention when choosing any software is price.
The total cost of ownership of any workflow automation software will not only include the upfront cost to license the product, but the cost to manage it as well. For this reason, an overly complex software that requires several hours of coding to create workflow sequences may not be optimal for most companies.
It is also important to consider scalability. A solution that may work well for the time being should be able to grow, and if not the total cost to change or reimplement a new solution down the line should be taken into consideration.
Workflow automation capabilities should, work hand-in-hand with your enterprise service management or ITSM solution. For example, AI and chatbots can work with automation software to identify the next actions by using sentiment analysis and APIs.
Security is also an important consideration when choosing a workflow automation software, as there may be sensitive data being entered or triggered. When choosing a platform, it should not be hosted by a third-party such a Dropbox. Rather, SaaS vendors should use stringent data storage rules and procedures.
Generally, choosing a workflow automation software should go hand-in-hand with other digital transformation initiatives.
Once you have chosen your workflow automation software, it is helpful to begin by reviewing and documenting your existing workflows. This can be as simple as writing them out on a white board. This will help you make sure you have a complete understanding of all of the steps in the process before starting and building out the automation. During this step, you should also consider setting realistic automation goals to accomplish so that you have a benchmark as you move through your set-up process.
The next step is to build out your workflows. You should not need to be a coder to build a workflow, and ITSM software using drag-and-drop options is often the most cost-effective in terms of keeping a low total cost of ownership.
You will also need to decide which actions will be triggered by chatbots, which will be moved to self-service, and which processes may need changes at an enterprise level. Once these general considerations have been made, you can begin to create or build-out your automated workflow.
To create a workflow with automation software, you must first write out or visually map the steps needed to complete the process. Then, using drag-and-drop features on a codeless platform, you can program the “if, then” statements or sequences that will create the steps of the workflow.
This is one example of a workflow created with EasyVista software:
Workflows can also be created to trigger automatic actions through API to interact with third-party solutions. For example, if the user must use software that integrates with Salesforce, a sequence can be created to trigger up to the point of entering Salesforce.
Workflow automation software works best as part of an overall digital transformation. This transformation can yield a higher return on investment on any new technology being utilized, while helping teams adopt a digital mindset. Together with ITSM software, automated workflows can help organizations advance their entire business goals while meeting existing needs, and leaders can expect to see a shift to greater productivity and a decrease in overall cost.
To learn more about EasyVista’s workflow automation software, request a demo today!
Bob Rizzo is the Product Marketing Director at EasyVista. An accomplished sales and marketing professional focused on helping customers, he serves as the product evangelist, both internally and externally, for the Easy Vista Self Help product. Rizzo has vast experience working with customers and partners in the IT service management software industry and understanding the challenges they face. Outside of work, he is an avid sports fan and enjoys playing golf, billiards and soccer.