The terms ‘workflow management’ and ‘workflow automation’ are often used interchangeably to each other. While they are indeed closely related, they refer to two different activities.
Here, we will discuss workflow management and workflow automation, their differences, and the benefits of implementing workflow automation.
Let us begin.
What Is Workflow Management
Workflow management is creating, coordinating, and monitoring the tasks that make up a business process (or business processes).
In this case, the term ‘workflow’ refers to the sequence of actions—or tasks— that are part of a business process that is executed to accomplish a business objective.
Workflow management, in practice, is a management discipline focused on managing the structure of work within the organization and how stakeholders and team members work together to complete this work. Technically, workflow management doesn’t require any software. Still, in practice, workflow management software like Aproove is used to monitor the work in real-time and automate some aspects of it (more on this later).
Workflow management consists of three distinct stages:
- Identifying the details of the business process: the elements of the process in question must be properly identified. This process might include interviewing stakeholders and visualizing the business process in a workflow diagram.
2. Analyzing the business process: exploring how the process operates and identifying areas that can be improved. Identifying bottlenecks, steps that can be skipped, and tools usages that can be eliminated from the process without affecting the effectiveness
3. Implementation of process changes: based on the analysis, we can implement the changes that should be made to the business process. The implemented changes should produce positive improvements, and if not, another round of workflow management might be required.
As we can see, workflow management isn’t overly complex and should be performed relatively quickly if you have the right tools.
What Is Workflow Automation?
As the name suggests, workflow automation is the automation of some actions/tasks/steps in a business process.
There are two primary objectives of automating a business process workflow:
- Freeing employees from the duty of performing time-consuming and repetitive tasks that can otherwise be automated
2. Eliminating the risks of human errors from executing the tasks/actions
Workflow automation is made possible with the use of workflow management and automation software like Aproove. Allowing organizations to improve the efficiency of everyday business processes while at the same time enabling the employees to stay focused on their competencies to perform tasks that will contribute more to accomplishing the business objectives.
However, in automating business processes, it’s important to remember the famous quote by Bill Gates that while automation applied to an efficient business process will magnify its efficiency, automation applied to an inefficient process will also magnify the inefficiency.
This is where workflow management ensures the efficiency of business processes and is essential before we implement workflow automation.
Benefits of Workflow Automation
Above we have discussed two core objectives in implementing workflow automation: freeing employees from repetitive, time-consuming tasks and reducing human errors. In turn, workflow automation can produce the following benefits:
Improving Transparency and Accountability
By automating business process workflow, we can reduce the number of people responsible for a process. Suppose we can automate all tasks in a business process. In that case, we can effectively create a condition where only one person (the process supervisor/manager) is responsible for every aspect of the business process.
We can promote transparency and accountability of the whole process: every stakeholder knows which tasks take the most time to complete and why. Also, everyone knows who is responsible for what task and their current progress.
Ultimately, workflow automation enables leaders to make better decisions to create more effective processes.
Streamlines Communication and Collaboration
One of the most important benefits of implementing workflow management and automation is improving collaboration and internal communication. When the workflow is automated correctly, no one has to notify the next person to perform the following task because they are executed automatically.
In turn, this can eliminate gaps in collaboration, for example, when an approval process is delayed because the upper management failed to respond to a deliverable. Yet the person asking for approval can’t reach the approver effectively.
Improves Cost Efficiency
Workflow automation of an optimized workflow will reduce compliance errors and improve the project’s overall efficiency by eliminating human errors. We will eliminate the risk of tasks not getting completed because the person responsible for it neglected to do so for one reason or another.
As a result, workflow automation can save the company from costs related to missed deadlines and employee errors and lower overall human resource costs by reducing the need to hire more employees.
Improves Workplace Efficiency
By implementing workflow automation, you can help promote a more efficient work culture, effectively encouraging team members and stakeholders to perform their tasks since the core necessities have been automated. Management no longer has to supervise every task and can focus on growing the business.
Workflow automation can provide many different benefits to your business processes, from improving efficiency and effectiveness, keeping your staff happy and satisfied, and ultimately saving money and maximizing ROI. However, workflow management is necessary before we can implement automation since it’s essential to make sure the process is already as efficient as possible before automation is applied..