Workflow is a series of activities that cumulate into a complete task or a process. In a standard scenario, the execution of each activity entails the direct involvement of one or two human resources. But each process has specific recurring tasks that are minor in nature but integral to every operation and involve many hours of productivity. These time-intensive and laborious workflows slow down the subsequent processes and hamper the efficient execution of each function.
Intelligent Workflow Automation speeds up those tasks and completes them without human involvement. Obviously, automation can be applied to other intricate areas, but the implementation of workflow automation should start from simple, rule-based job roles. Once these simple yet intricate processes are automated, the rest of the pieces fall into place.
Traditional workflow management challenges
At a granular level, opening an email and extracting information from the long trail can be a minor task in a process. Conventionally, an employee would have to scan through long email trails to identify the specific email, download attachments, if any, or simply copy information and enter it in a centralized database. As simple as it may sound, the task can be tricky and time-intensive. This is because enterprises are already burdened by the weight of emails being exchanged daily. And some email trails can be pretty lengthy. The time spent on the task could have been better utilized in a more value-added role. If scanning emails, extracting data, and updating the database could have been automated, the rest of the tasks following it would have been executed in less time.
The above example highlights the challenges of conventional methods of task execution. Given the increasing market competition, companies can no longer afford to invest time and resources in simple data-entry tasks when other critical processes are left to execute within narrow deadlines. The example also alerts us about the diminishing efficiency of the resources and raises concerns about possible errors being committed additionally.
Here are a few obstacles faced by traditional workflow management:
Workflow automation takes the human, time, and error factors out of the processes and connects all on a unified platform to improve the visibility and transparency of operations. As a result, the above-mentioned challenges are duly addressed, allowing enterprises to execute more tasks in much lesser time.
Reasons for using Intelligent Workflow Automation
The above-mentioned challenges are strong enough to convince us why Intelligent Workflow Automation is necessary to catch up with the volatile digital world.
However, other factors are involved in governing enterprises’ decisions for workflow automation.
What is an Intelligent Workflow Automation?
Workflow automation orchestrates advanced technologies like Automation and AI, analytics, and skills to transform how work is done at a fundamental level. Intelligent Automation solutions minimize process frictions and provide insights into existing task executions to help enterprises improve their approaches immediately. It unlocks value and hidden opportunities for further improvement and efficiency. Needless to say, workflow automation is the perfect fit in the modern era of digitalization and hybrid work culture.
Significance of Intelligent Workflow Automation
Workflow automation has tremendous significance across all industries, specifically those with processes involving repetitive, non-intellectual tasks. These tasks could be quickly completed at record speed by keeping humans out of the loop. Furthermore, such workflows are usually rule-based and require no intelligent decision-making. Simply put, a robot emulating human behaviors like RPA or an automated software system can efficiently execute them without downtime or errors.
The objectives of Intelligent Workflow Automation are:
How does workflow automation improve end-to-end visibility?
The purpose of migrating the organizational structure to the digital space is to bridge the existing department gaps. By breaking down the walls and siloes, enterprises can achieve some form of end-to-end visibility. This is truly important at a time when data-driven decisions are prioritized to stay competitive. Hence, every process and every department should work in perfect tandem, exchanging data to maintain the workflow.
With solutions like Intelligent Workflow Automation, companies can induce a high degree of integration and visibility into their existing processes. As against traditional methods, enterprises today can add a technology layer over their in-house applications and connect those processes, data, and resources. Automation, AI, and Analytics are vital enablers in integrating an end-to-end workflow that offers complete visibility and transparency of operations.
Intelligent Workflow Automation – What does it mean for employees?
Intelligent Workflow Automation can be seen as a blessing in disguise for in-house resources. And the first impact could be seen in their high morale, leading to lesser employee turnover for a company.
Initially, software bots were deemed suitable for handling rule-based, recurring tasks with minimal to negligible variations. For instance, Robotic Process Automation being one such technology running basic data-entry back-end and front-end workflows. However, more capabilities are added to expand the potential of RPA bots and other automation tools so the latter can deal with a lot of variability in processes without needing humans. Probably, technology is still far behind in achieving a higher rate of automation within key processes, but companies should make efforts to achieve a reasonable automation rate. Consequently, this attempt will unlock the business value that was not apparent with humans-in-the-loop.
AI, data analytics, and automation are actually unlocking value for the resources too! Now employees could deliver more value for their organization than merely executing tasks. They can upskill themselves to explore endless possibilities when working in close tandem with technology. And that is precisely what the developers aspire to do – building a unique human-machine partnership.
How to implement Intelligent Workflow Automation?
As per experts, there will be approximately 55.9B connected devices worldwide by 2025. However, enterprises still reluctant to change their approach have a lot to catch up with. This is because most organizations have started ramping up their automation initiatives to stay ahead of the competition curve. That being said, implementing any automation solution into the existing infrastructure follows certain ground rules and basic steps to ensure its success.
Intelligent Workflow Automation – Benefits and use cases
As stated earlier, Intelligent Workflow Automation has broader applications and use cases across industries. So, let’s have a quick overview of the same.
Healthcare: Medical providers can quickly generate staff work schedules and on-call rotations using workflow automation. Further to this, the same platform can be used effectively to adhere to other recurring tasks like supporting patient admission, discharging, and transferring patients’ electronic health records. This allows healthcare workers to focus on direct patient care.
Legal: Billing, entering new client information, submitting and tracking contract reviews, and managing case deadlines are some mundane tasks that can be sped up and automated with the same tool.
Financial: Financial groups and banks use workflow automation for laborious data entry and account approval processes.
Sales and Marketing: Here, workflow automation can scale up workflows related to brand management and campaigns in a prescribed order.
These sales departments are burdened with various recurring tasks that are of lesser value but consume more productivity hours. For example, approval of proposals and quotes, the introduction of salespeople to leads, the process of website interactions with clients/leads, and the generation of task lists based on a lead scheduling a meeting with a sales rep. All of these workflows can improve and speed up with Intelligent Workflow Automation.
Cybersecurity: Response to incidents is one key area in cybersecurity that demands immediate attention. Here, automation can improve the speed and efficiency of responses to such events.
Human resources: Workflow automation can easily facilitate various cumbersome HR processes, including timesheet approvals, onboarding & offboarding employees, and managing personnel changes.
Operations: Operations department of any company, regardless of which industry they fall under, includes many long-haul tasks that could be automated to reach efficiency and speed. Such workflows include compiling reports and assigning tasks to teams.
Hence, every organization, irrespective of which sector they fall under, stands to benefit from the power of Intelligent Workflow Automation. The reason being all of these industries will have some form of lesser-value job roles that are executed without depending on human intellect. Hence, automation can easily take over and complete those tasks at record speed by emulating human-machine interactions aptly. Therefore, workflow automation should be converted into an accepted work culture to sustain and stay ahead of the competitive digital market.