July 13, 2017

5 Workflow Automation Tips For Your Team

by Alexa Lemzy

You’re automating a majority of your work, but what do you know about workflow automation? Implementing tactics that decrease the workload of your team members and eliminate unnecessary routine is crucial to business success.

Workflow Automation Tips for Your Team

Here’s how you can automate your team’s workflows to create more efficient, productive work processes.

WHY IS WORKFLOW AUTOMATION VITAL FOR SUCCESS?

If you need a reason to implement automation into your workflows, just check out these key statistics from Cognizant’s 2015 business process automation study:

  • 20% of organizations who use process automation report at least 15% cost savings
  • Half of those implementing new automated workflow strategies see significant improvement in their overall systems within 3-5 years

Though automation doesn’t guarantee instant success, when implemented as a long-term initiative, it will improve your workflows and increase your company’s financial gains.

Here are some tips to get you started with an exceptional workflow automation strategy.

#1: IDENTIFY YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES

Before you create a new workflow automation strategy, be sure you actually need one. The system you come up with has to solve organizational problems. The first step you will take is to identify predominant issues within your current team structure and systems.

Do you see a lot of errors or delays in a specific project? Is internal communication confusing? How successful are your team members? Are your costs too high? Ask questions like this during analyzing your progress and find your most significant business challenges.

Your automation strategy should solve exactly these problems. Start with 1-3 challenges to ensure that your new workflow automation strategy is manageable. You can implement more automation in the future, after you and your team get used to new software.

#2: SET MEASURABLE GOALS

Measuring goals for workflow automation

Once you can state the most harmful problems within your team structure, it’s time to set objectives for workflow automation. Would you like to eliminate coding errors, improve internal communication, meet deadlines, or something else?

The trick is to set goals that are specific, measurable, and attainable; this is the only way to know if your strategy is successful or if it needs adjustments.

Most of the time, your objectives will be about delivering accurate information to someone on your team. For example, if your goal is to meet deadlines, this could be met by automating the delivery of certain information more quickly.

If most internal communications happen via email, you can ensure quick delivery by supplementing a trigger that automates a text message to notify the recipient that a new email has been delivered.

When you actually write out a goal like that, rather than generally say, “to meet deadlines,” it is easier for you to be specific. Something like, “the goal is to improve the number of deadlines met by 20%.” When you monitor and analyze the success of your automation strategy, real numbers will help you determine whether or not the new system is working.

#3: USE TRUSTED, RELIABLE SOFTWARE

When choosing tools to streamline your workflows, don’t buy the piece of software just because it is the first one you came across. You need to read reviews and explore your options.

Capterra can help you find workflow automation software by categorizing a list of tools to check with specific options like approval process control, compliance management, configurable workflow, customizable dashboard, and more. Use their search filters to find exactly what you need.

Top workflow automation tools

What should you look for in the software?

The software options you need are going to depend on your goals, processes, team size, and compatibility with the tools you already use. Before choosing the solution, sit with your team and discuss the goals.

Ask for feedback on what available tools would work best for specific tasks and if there is any existing software you use that might provide a list of integrations to explore. Most providers include a list of integrations on their websites or use third tools that help customers benefit from such integrations.

For example, our customers use Zapier to easily integrate Zoho, ZenDesk, Salesforce, and more. They can look through other “Zaps” to see which software they can sync with what they’re already using.

Zapier dashboard

#4: MONITOR YOUR NEW SYSTEMS

Once you choose the automation solution, monitor your efforts. Most business platforms include a dashboard that you can use to see what’s happening behind the scenes. Keep track of the numbers so that you know if you need to make adjustments.

Common Workflow Automation Problems to Watch for

When you come into the automation process, you may be thinking that everything will be smooth-sailing. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. You’ll likely have to iron out a lot of kinks. Here are some common pitfalls with workflow automation to be aware of.

  1. Over-complication – the point of automation is to make workflow easier, simpler. If your automation strategy requires too many steps, it’s not going to work as expected. Simplify the process at every step.
  2. Missing critical elements – discuss internal expectations and compare them with your new system to see if your strategy has all necessary elements.
  3. Difficult to understand from outsider perspective – an internal team who’s working with that workflows from the beginning may be okay with that way of doing things. However, remember that you may need to bring someone new to the team at some point, and those people need a fast and clear introduction. So your system should be user-friendly.
  4. Lack of access to key data – each team member will need to have access to certain information. It’s common for a new automation system to limit access to critical data. Check in with everyone to ensure that they are able to see everything they need to complete their tasks.

#5: DELEGATE A MANAGER

Delegation as part of workflow automation

Each new system within your team needs an in-charge person. Remember to delegate management to such person, so that your projects are overseen.

If your new system is outside the scope of your existing team, it can be a good idea to bring on someone new.

If you don’t think it’s a good idea to bring on a new, full-time employee, check out contractors or freelancers that have expertise with the software solutions you and your team lack experience with.

Sometimes a fresh set of eyes can expose and remedy critical issues that would otherwise go unnoticed.

CONCLUSION

Use these tips to improve team productivity in your automated workflows. Automation can increase revenue if you implement your system the right way.

First, identify your greatest challenges. Next, set measurable goals. Then, choose the right software and monitor changes to your systems. Finally, delegate a manager that can improve the success of your new processes.

What tips can you share about workflow automation? Discuss them in the comments below.

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