In business, time is a precious commodity. With only so many hours in a day, you are limited by how much you can realistically get done unless you choose to automate some of the more repetitive processes.
By automating some of your workflows, you can turn otherwise mundane and time-consuming tasks into efficient, well-oiled processes. Automation also eliminates manual errors, increases profitability, and creates more engaging work for your employees.
To understand the signs and benefits of automating workflows, let’s first define what workflows are.
What is a workflow?
A workflow is a series of steps that are taken to complete a specific task or project. Think of it as a roadmap that guides you from point A to point B, with clear instructions on what needs to be done along the way. A workflow could be intricately complex or simple, requiring either a single person or one or more coworkers to be involved.
The beauty of a well-designed workflow is that it allows you to break down a complex process into smaller, more manageable steps. Doing this makes it easier to track progress, identify bottlenecks, and ultimately achieve your goals.
What are the signs you should invest in automated workflows?
Investing in automated systems can bring numerous benefits to a business. But how do you know when it is time to make the investment? Consider the following five signs to determine whether your company may be at risk for not automating one or more workflows.
1. Repetitive tasks
If your business is regularly performing tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming, such as processing payroll, creating invoices, performing data analysis, or curating email lists, it may be time to automate them. Automating these essential yet often drawn-out processes will free up time for your employees to focus on more important tasks that require their attention and creativity.
2. Error rates are high
Noticing higher-than-reasonable error rates is a clear sign that you need to improve your processes. The more repetitive and uninspiring the task, the more likely it is that employees will lose focus and make a mistake.
3. Demand is increasing
When your business starts to grow, it may become difficult to keep up with the increasing demand you will inevitably experience. For example, you may have large influxes of orders or queries that you do not have the manpower to process fast enough. Automating certain processes can help you manage the increased workload and maintain a consistent service level as the business expands.
4. Response rate is slow
Businesses that rely heavily on customer service can leverage automation to help improve response times and provide consistent, accurate answers to customer queries. If you have received poor feedback about your current response rates or overall level of customer service, you can address bottlenecks using an automated chatbot. This tool can be deployed to deal with common, low-complexity queries.
5. Too much data to manage
Many businesses deal with colossal amounts of data. This may include employee information, customer details, payment data, order summaries, sales figures, statistics, and so on. It is nearly impossible to manage all this information manually. Automating data management tasks can speed up access to actionable information while achieving a greater level of accuracy.
What are the benefits of automating your workflows?
Who wants to spend time responding to hundreds of job candidates when a workflow could automate a confirmation email to every applicant? With enhanced productivity, improved organization, and more engaged employees, automation can introduce several tangible benefits to a business.
1. Less time spent on repetitive tasks
According to a 2021 study, 67% of employees said they waste up to 4.5 hours a week on tasks that could be automated. Automating workflows allows employees to have more time to focus on engaging, more meaningful work, such as improving your workplace culture or creating better job descriptions to attract the right applicants.
2. Fewer errors
While an occasional mistake from a manual process is frustrating, continuous errors can have a substantial impact on your business, especially when dealing with sensitive data such as billing information or customer details. Automated systems significantly reduce errors and improve accuracy, resulting in better quality work and a more efficient workflow.
3. Speedier workflows
Deadlines can easily be missed when important steps are not completed on time due to a lack of clarity or effective communication. This can result in approvals coming in late, people chasing documents, or projects not being delivered by their due dates. Automating workflows makes it easier to track and complete each step of a project.
4. Better communication
Well-structured workflows and timely updates are essential components of successful project management. Automated systems that provide notifications keep everyone on the same page and informed about any changes or updates to the project. This also ensures that everyone is working toward the same goal, helping to align efforts and drive the project forward.
Automate Human Resource Workflows with Stratus HR
Although you may not think of human resources (HR) when considering business workflows, many HR processes include repetitive tasks that can easily be automated. While that sounds like the perfect scenario for a large corporation, even small and midsize companies can easily automate these functions by outsourcing to a professional employer organization (PEO) like Stratus HR.
Outsourcing HR to Stratus allows you to automate transactional tasks such as employee onboarding, payroll, benefits administration, and employee data management. In addition, our applicant tracking system helps you streamline your recruiting processes, and our custom-built software provides easy access to reports for making strategic decisions.
For more information on how Stratus HR can help your business streamline its transactional workflows, please book a free consultation.