Workflow automation creates the cornerstone of office efficiency. In 2020, it is expected to continue being a trending topic as organizations look to make their processes leaner and of higher impact.
Many people are familiar with things like document management solutions and how automation applies to document processes. However, workflow automation software is a smart move for many business processes, not just document management.
Think about all the ways office processes can be optimized, such as removing redundant steps in the workflow or automating approval processes. Whether you are working towards a 2020 resolution or an ongoing goal, read on to learn about the best practices for workflow automation, and how best to leverage it to help a business thrive.
Where to Use Workflow Automation to Drive Achievement in an Office
Workflow automation, also known as business process automation, uses software to automate business processes. It is one way that companies cut down on the amount of menial labor done by employees so they can focus on higher-value initiatives that require human expertise. When deployed thoughtfully, with a strategic goal in mind, workflow automation can be a powerful tool to streamline office processes.
However, not every business process works well with automation. To determine what to automate, use the Rule of Three.
Decide What to Automate with the Rule of 3: Repetitive, Recurring, Rules-Based
Processes that are repetitive, recurring, and rules-based benefit the most from automation. These processes often constitute the bedrock of business functions and are sensitive to human error. Yet, they take up time and labor better spent elsewhere.
Some examples of business processes that fall under one or all three rules include:
- Data entry and extraction: Pulling out addresses from invoices, identifying keywords in a resume, or converting written forms to electronic data all benefit from automation. Artificial intelligence (AI) combined with optical character recognition (OCR), can take over these time-consuming tasks giving employees more time to focus on important assignments that need human expertise.
- Approval processes: Many business processes require signoffs from certain people. Algorithms can automatically determine if specific tasks have been completed with a document or project and send approval notifications to the right people.
- Accounts receivables: From automatic invoicing to purchase order matching, automation can eliminate many of the rote processes associated with payments and accounts.
Best Practices for Workflow Automation in 2020
Dozens of automation tools are readily available to organizations. This can make workflow automation seem overwhelming or encourage an overengineered strategy that automates too many processes. Be smart with automation in 2020 by choosing a managed service provider as well as deploying these best practices:
1. Start Small but With the Big Picture in Mind
It is not necessary to automate everything – in fact, it might not even be a good idea. Instead, roll out automation in stages so that critical processes do not get disrupted, bottlenecked, or stopped. Consider how automation in one area can affect processes in another area and adapt accordingly.
2. Understand Workflow Automation Terminology
Like most technological solutions, the jumble of buzzwords and jargon can get confusing. Workflow automation generally refers to the processes that are automated in the workflow, but terms like business process automation and robotic process automation may also appear.
- Business process automation (BPA): Refers to an overarching workflow solutions strategy that increases productivity by automating the steps a business needs to conduct its core functions.
- Robotic process automation (RPA): Refers to the use of solutions that automate highly repetitive tasks and standardized processes.
Understanding these differences will save time and frustration.
3. Conduct a Process Assessment
Conduct a thorough assessment of the organization’s processes before making any adjustments or deploying automation. A document management or business process expert can help by pointing out blind spots or opportunities for improvement that the company may not have considered.
Examples of these blind spots include things such as a lack of secure options for sharing documents (relying instead on email attachments), or poor configurations for synchronized cloud storage.
4. Define Specific Automation Goals
Workflow automation provides the highest value when deployed with a specific goal in mind. Start by trying to automate just one or two processes known for causing bottlenecks in a workflow.
For example, if approval signoffs regularly go unattended, consider automating these notifications so they do not get missed.
5. Create a Workflow Plan or Map
This can be written or visual, but every workflow needs a map. Sometimes even the simplest workflows can become complicated when thinking about the multiple steps and approvals involved. This map will help identify if the workflow is working and illuminate instances when it “breaks.”
6. Have a Backup Plan
Technology is not infallible, and technical glitches may cause errors or problems from time to time. Therefore, when deploying workflow automation solutions, make sure to have a backup plan that allows for human intervention without stopping processes.
For example, a power outage could shut down the whole system which is why it is necessary to have a backup plan that involves people handling the automated tasks when an office cannot rely on automation.
Automate Document Management to Save Time and Costs
Many document management solutions utilize automation to significantly improve efficiency and productivity within an office. This powerful software not only automates steps like document capture, archival, and retrieval but can integrate with other valuable enterprise software to enhance automation across an organization.
For example, some document management software can integrate with the software found on multifunction printers to create backups or transmit documents that are scanned or printed.
Likewise, document management solutions help an office move away from slow, bulky paper documents. By transforming paper records into electronic documents, they become easier to manage, work with, and access to make rapid business decisions.
RJ Young Helps Companies Achieve Operational Efficiency with Workflow Automation
Workflow automation represents a powerful strategy that many companies deploy to keep their operations streamlined and efficient. Through the thoughtful application of automation in critical areas, employees spend less time managing mundane, routine tasks and more time handling situations that require a human touch.
In 2020, workflow automation is a trending topic – one that every business must consider staying current.
RJ Young helps companies achieve operational efficiency through the strategic deployment of automation. Contact RJ Young today to get started.
Workplace automation. It is the next big trend in the modern office as more and more businesses recognize the value of strategically deploying this powerful tool. Automation will have a significant impact on document workflow solutions in the future workplace. Process automation means more time spent focusing on high-value business activities, a reduction of errors in a workflow, and an increased ability to nimbly handle the massive amounts of data and documents which are a reality for the modern business.
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Drive Productivity in Critical Processes
Process automation is the use of technology to automate day-to-day business tasks. It amplifies office efficiency by taking over laborious, but nonetheless, critical tasks. These include, but are not limited to:
- Highly repetitive and cyclical tasks, such as data entry or payroll.
- Precision tasks where volume prohibits the ability to look over each instance, such as print quality control.
- Document delivery, such as mailing.
- Low-skill labor, such as document capture and archival.
- Tasks which must occur in real-time beyond regular business hours.
- Disaster recovery and business continuity activities.
Process automation makes workflow processes faster, smoother, and more efficient. It makes sure critical but often invisible processes – such as backups or patches – do not get overlooked. Moreover, it drives productivity in daily office workflows.
Process Automation Makes Document Workflow Solutions Effortless
Process automation is especially useful in areas where an office must handle large amounts of data without error, such as in the case of document workflows. Documents and digital files are the lifeblood of many businesses. The modern business is expected to handle reports and data rapidly, and to do it with professionalism and poise.
Fortunately, process automation makes document workflows effortless through an array of different strategies. Increase productivity by leveraging automation at any point of the document life cycle, including:
1. Document Capture and Processing
Automated document capture means that forms and communications are routed directly to relevant personnel. This means no more vital pieces of information or contracts disappearing in an inbox or on a cluttered desk. Instead, information gets delivered to the right people, at the right time.
2. Transmission and Distribution
Automated electronic data interchanges handle the transmission or distribution of invoices or other documents automatically. Likewise, process automation can integrate with other parts of an office workflow to automatically deliver documents to servers, specific individuals, or even the printer.
3. Data Collation
Collation refers to the assembly of information into a standardized format. In other words, it is a way of organizing a body of documents into a uniform, searchable format. For example, offices may employ automated collation to standardize document file names prior to classification. By doing this it makes it easier to find in the future. This feature helps Accounts Payable departments to capture and validate data, categorize invoices, and match and validate invoices to specific accounts.
4. Archival and Storage
Document archival and storage constitute one of the most common areas in which process automation is employed in the document workflow. A solid automated document workflow helps keep records in order so that employees do not need to spend time searching – or reprinting – a misplaced document. HR departments benefit immensely from this. They are able to easily store and archive employee benefits and information, track timesheets, and complete employee payroll with no issues.
5. Document Security
Automated workflow solutions assist a business in maintaining a secure document environment. Consumers have a zero-tolerance for errors, especially when those errors result in consumer data being exposed in a breach. Errors such as misfiling, printing the wrong items, or sending a document to the wrong person are all but eliminated with process automation. Employees and clients can enjoy faster delivery, with fewer errors, and the assurance that their data remains secure.
Get Next-Generation Document Workflow Solutions with RJ Young
The future of the workplace as a whole does indeed lie in automation. Manual processes are increasingly outdated and will hamper an organization’s ability to respond swiftly and adequately to new information or shifting markets. Thoughtfully deployed process automation will inspire new levels of productivity and innovation.
Document workflow solutions represent one area where modern offices are keen to apply process automation because of the tremendous time and cost-savings benefits it confers. Say goodbye to lost documents, forgotten attachments, and a lack of standardization among file names which makes the archives impossible to search. Process automation is driving greater efficiency, organization, and security in document management.
Interested in discovering how process automation can augment your office workflow? Contact RJ Young todayto explore the next generation of document management.