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Ways Workflow Automation Benefits Your Company

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The fear of machines taking over human jobs is deeply routed in human history. Two centuries ago, the Luddites fiercely rose against the weaving machinery in England, seeking revenge of the heartless masses of steel and rubber threatening their daily bread. Ever since, the same threat has always been around the corner.

More recently, in 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson – then the 36th President of the United States - received the “Triple Report”, signed by a group of accomplished scientists and activists including two Nobel Prize winners.

The so-called Report disputes that the USA was on the brink of an economic and social upheaval because “industrial automation was going to put millions of people out of work"

A little over 60 years down the road, the  unemployment rate  is the United States is as low as 3.9 %. Yet, the fear of machines has expended to a whole new level, that of a general psychosis, or should I say a “machinophobia”. Yet, history sticks to its tendency to repeat itself.

In a TedX talk about the future of work, futurist Martin Ford,  distinguished author of “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future” and “The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future”

argues:

“This alarm has been raised repeatedly, but it's always been a false alarm. And because it's been a false alarm, it's led to a very conventional way of thinking about this. And that says essentially that yes, technology may devastate entire industries. But at the same time, of course, progress is going to lead to entirely new things.”

We are living in an era where technology disrupts all aspects of our daily lives. Where most repetitive tasks are better done by shunks of computer code, and pieces of custom made software. And this is where things get interesting: technology gets cheaper over time, and walks today in our offices as much as in the Luddites textile workshops and Little Tramp’s cold factory.

In this article, we will try to break down some of the benefits of Workflow Automation. Starting with definitions.

What’s Workflow Automation?

The workflow automation concept has rapidly evolved from the manufacturing industry to office jobs. It actually existed since industrialization driven by a constant quest of increasing efficiency and improving business results.

Workflow automation separates work activities into well-defined tasks, roles, rules, and procedures. Initially, processes were carried out entirely by humans who manipulated physical objects.

With the raise of information technology, processes in the work place are increasingly being automated by computer programs. Such IT tools perform tasks and enforce the rules previously implemented by humans.

For a given business, workflows are usually filled with numerous time-consuming and error-prone manual tasks. Workflow automation uses technology to replace manual tasks by self-executing computer software.

Hence, a workflow automation process starts with a clear objective and usually ends with validation, giving it a great flexibility to get better over time.

The steps involved in a workflow automation process encompass:

  • Identifying repetitive tasks

  • Defining the goals of automation

  • Training the team to use the automation tool

  • Measuring KPIs and concluding ROI for future decisions

 

Benefits of Workflow Automation

Improve Communication

According to  Forbes , most people leave their managers, rather than leaving their jobs. An alarming 76% of millenials chose to resign because of communication flaws within their teams.

The good news is workflow automation drastically improves internal communication. This potentially reduces employees’ turnover and gives companies the great advantage of building solid teams.

When implementing workflow automation, all parties involved within a business process are automatically notified, acknowledged and informed of the projects they are involved in.  

A great way to insure this is by involving the entire team in integrating the workflow automation tool since the beginning. Then, management can make sure to implement a process map and visualize where every process begins and ends and what role each person plays in that process.

Enforces Accountability & Transparency

One of the key success factors in each project is assigning team members to clearly defined tasks that delineate accountabilities, sets an accurate (and achievable) goal and clear backup plan.

The power of workflow automation resides in providing an untempered log of “Who is responsible for what, and when”- usually a breaking point in sloppy projects.

By doing so, workflow automation creates a system of accountability, where everyone knows what specific tasks he or she is responsible for. Furthermore, an automated process pinpoints which tasks take the most time to complete and where the process bottlenecks seem to occur.

Reducing Errors & Curbing Costs

By including computer systems that (almost) never fail to execute the same task, it’s no surprise that workflow automation reduces errors usually happening as a result of human labor. Furthermore, an automated process leaves no room for errors and process flaws to go unnoticed.

Because every person involved in the process is held accountable for his or her specific role, the team is constantly aware of project KPIs, deadlines, risks and progress, and errors are considerably mitigated.

Workflow automation also saves companies from costly expenses associated with employee errors as well as administrative labor.

Improve Time Management & Self Evaluation

By enforcing process clarity, employees will know exactly their scope of work, deadlines, and communication channels. Hence, they are empowered to carry out their work on time, or signal any possible delays or risks as they arise.

Furthermore, management will know immediately if tasks are not completed on time, along with the accountabilities, so to fix any malfunction before impacting their projects. Besides, supervisors will save time checking on tasks progress, since reporting is available to them on the go.

Poster: credit Mehdi MEZNI

Other Pictures: Pixabay, Unsplash

Tags:Automation, Workflow

 

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