Every business needs to automate workflow processes for business units like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Sales, Marketing, Human Resources (HR) because this leads to greater productivity, cost and time savings, improved reliability and efficiency for the business.While employers understand, and embrace Workflow Automation as a tool for achieving business goals, it can be an under-stated part of the job description of Information Technology (IT) workers like business analysts, software developers, data analysts and database developers.
Understanding your role in Workflow Automation will help your career because a lot of hiring is centered around designing and implementing automated workflows (business analysts and software developers) or collecting and analyzing data from existing automated workflows (database developers and data analysts).
Understanding the concepts behind Workflow Automation is also important because every business is made up of processes, workflows, activities tasks or steps that need to be optimized or completed to achieve critical business goals. So, when workflows or processes become inefficient because of manual interventions or human errors, the business unit as a whole may also be affected because of the lack of productivity.
However, with workflow automation, businesses can eliminate the tedious, redundant steps in their workflows that require manual labor and/or leaves room for errors by replacing them with automated processes.
With all this in mind, what is “Workflow Automation”? Workflow automation involves creating a series of automated actions for the manual steps in a business process.
We will use an appointment setting process as an example, because this is quite common and easily understood, so, let us compare the manual steps to the automated steps required for an appointment setting process:
A Manual Appointment Setting Workflow
1. A customer wants to visit a business for some type of consultation (e.g. medical visits)
2. The customer visits the company’s website and looks up the business phone number
3. The customer makes a call to the business which is then received and handled by a rep.
4. The rep manually looks at one or more calendars for an open slot and tries to match the customer’s availability to the business availability
5. The rep schedules the appointment and gives a verbal confirmation of the day and time to the customer.
6. If the customer wants to change the appointment date, the customer calls the business again and gets someone on the phone to lookup up the appointment and then manually changes it after reviewing several calendars.
An Automated Appointment Setting Workflow
1. A Customer wants to visit a business for some type of consultation (e.g. medical visits)
2. The customer visits the company’s website and goes to the appointment page / form
3. The customer uses a Calendar to find a day / time that is open for both the customer and the business
4. The customer books the time and receives an automatic confirmation email with a link for re-scheduling the appointment (if necessary)
5. The customer decides to change the appointment a day later and clicks on the unique link sent for the appointment in the confirmation email. The customer is re-directed to the company’s online calendar
6. The customer finds a new day / time that works better and re-schedules the appointment and receives a new confirmation email
As you can see, the manual appointment setting process is prone to human errors, miscommunication, repetition and it costs the business some of their employee(s) time.
Finally, understanding the strategic importance of business processes and workflow automation will help you write a better resume that interests potential employers (if you are in the market for a new job) or it can align your career better with your current employer.