By Greg Belkin, Senior Director, Product Marketing
Workflow automation is a great way to streamline processes and increase efficiency, and it leads to happier employees. But can it also drive business growth?
Yes! Workflow automation isn’t just about reducing time and effort spent on manual tasks. It can also be a driver for innovation. How? Let’s look at a few angles then talk about how you can implement workflow automation that helps your company become more innovative.
Workflow Automation for Creativity
The first aspect is related to what we talked about last time. Workflow automation fundamentally frees people from doing tasks that are repetitive, tedious, and not adding a lot of real value to the business. Not only do people appreciate being freed from those tasks, but they’re also then able to do work that’s more creative.
Now, does creativity really benefit the business? A Forrester study found that 82 percent of leaders see a strong connection between creativity and business results. There’s also a strong connection between creative freedom and workplace satisfaction.
Plus, innovation needs creativity; new ideas don’t just suddenly appear. When people aren’t spending their time doing basic data entry or manually setting up an email campaign, they have more opportunities to discover areas for innovation and generate ideas that can help the business.
Workflow Automation for Process Improvement
A second aspect is process improvement. Workflow automation naturally expedites processes by reducing the need for human intervention, but the act of implementing workflow automation itself can bring process improvements.
Many business processes tend to emerge organically. For any department, the initial processes by which things are done might not have been thoroughly thought out. Plus, as things change over time, those processes also evolve. This is usually done based on what seems most efficient and sensible at the time, but from a broader perspective, there could be a better way.
So, when you go through the exercise of examining processes that could benefit from workflow automation, you also have the opportunity to identify processes that could benefit from significant overhaul—or even elimination. Even better, you might see places where you could try something entirely new. And that’s innovation!
Workflow Automation for Scalability
A third aspect is scalability. Again, any new process that emerges organically is generally based around the people responsible for it. If things grow, they can bring in and train other people, but that necessarily requires time to ramp up, hours spent on training, and the inevitable mistake or two from human error.
Now, if you could automate that workflow, there’s far less limitation on how fast you can scale. So when a pilot program has great success, it’ll be easy to expand it as far as you possibly can.
Workflow Automation for Driving Innovation
So how can you make sure you’re using workflow automation to achieve innovation?
First, define your goals. Innovation is great, but not if it’s just innovation for its own sake. Be sure that you’re aiming to use workflow automation in a way that aligns with an important business objective.
Next, train your people. Yes, workflow automation is supposed to help free them from some of their tasks. But they have to know what’s being automated—or, even better, how they can create their own automations—and what work they’re then free to focus on. If you want them to bring the most value they can, you need to make sure they know where to focus.
Finally, don’t stop. Just because something has been automated doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Iterating on workflow automations can help get even more out of them—and can help you find new ways to innovate.
No matter where your organization can benefit from workflow automation, you can use it not only to gain efficiency and reduce effort but also to seize opportunities for innovation. And that’s the sort of music that everyone can dance to.
Want to learn more about workflow automation? Contact us today, and we’ll help you figure out how your business can benefit.