Companies everywhere are transforming their tedious, time-consuming, manual processes into streamlined, easy-to-use, automated processes. They’re doing it to reap the many benefits of automation technology. Updated technology improves consistency and companies have enjoyed increased productivity, availability, reliability, and performance, while drastically reducing costs.
However, each company has different automation needs and priorities. For example, a company that procures a large number of raw materials may benefit from invoice automation as opposed to a temp agency that may prefer to invest in automating new hire onboarding.
Here’s a list of workflow examples for common business processes. For each type, we’ll explain what your workflow should include to make them perform optimally.
1. Sales Order
Sales orders are an essential part of every business and efficient order processing is vital to profitability. Yet, many businesses still rely on email, Excel sheets, or paper forms. In today’s business climate, manual paperwork slows customer service and risks the viability of your business.
Creating a sales order workflow reduces the chance of misunderstandings, errors, and omissions. Physical paperwork is also greatly reduced, and customers can sign the order from anywhere and at any time — leading to faster order processing.
While each organization’s workflow is unique, here’s what a typical sales order process might look like:
- Salesperson creates the order.
- Manager approves it.
- If the discount is more than 15%, the VP must also approve it.
- The Client (external to the company) signs it.
- Billing invoices the client.
- The client pays the invoice.
- Fulfillment delivers the products.
- Documents are filed away for record-keeping.
2. New Employee Onboarding
Manually onboarding new hires is inefficient and prone to mistakes. Instead, set up a workflow for onboarding to ensure that the process is standardized and that every new employee gets a consistent onboarding experience.
Workflows also organize the many different forms needed for onboarding, and minimize the number of mistakes made along the way. Mistakes made during this process are costly and hard to fix.
A workflow management tool can help you simplify this process and make it more reliable. Create a breakdown of every step of the onboarding process — from their first day through their first project and first month. This helps new employees feel welcomed into the company and creates a space that encourages them to produce high quality work.
A detailed employee onboarding workflow should look like this:
- Prepare materials
- Discuss jobs, projects, and responsibilities
- Create work-related accounts
- Prepare a benefits package
- Assign training materials
- Assign first project
- Plan check-in meetings
- Discuss long-term goals and expectations
3. Purchase Order
Every business relies on purchase orders to manage and control spending. POs are extremely important because they make sure the buyer and supplier are both on the same page. Companies that use electronic POs benefit from huge cost reductions, greater control over spending, and productivity gains.
Inbox flooding and emailing PDF documents around may have worked in the past, but email is no longer an efficient way to send information throughout the company. In today’s fast-paced business world, manual processes that rely on email are too slow and you risk losing business to technologically advanced competitors.
Electronic purchase order workflows save valuable time, ensure employees do not make easily-avoidable mistakes, and let them focus on work that matters rather than chasing paperwork.
A simple purchase order workflow might look like this:
- Employee creates PO
- Manager reviews and approves it
- Depending on business norms, a VP reviews e.g. if the amount exceeds $10,000.
- Send PO to the supplier, external to the company
- Receive services
- Receive invoice from supplier
- Authorize invoice, pay supplier
- Keep and file documents for records.
4. Vacation request
Vacation requests usually require approval from a manager. An electronic workflow automatically tracks the request and notifies the relevant stakeholders about the current status. The process is quick, efficient, accurate, and easy to use.
The employee avoids the stress of requesting and tracking their forms, and they don’t have to worry about paperwork. The manager receives the request seconds after submission and can have all related documents in one place. They can approve and sign the form from any device. Using workflows, the turnaround time drastically decreases compared to doing this process manually.
Again, each organization has variation, but here’s how a simple vacation request workflow might look:
- Employee fills out vacation request form
- Employee sends form electronically to manager.
- Manager approves request
- Employee plans vacation and blocks off time
- They then list tasks that must be completed before leaving
- Employee plans transition time back into the office
- The employee then takes a stress-free vacation
Read more: Taking the Stress out of Taking Vacations
5. Travel Request Authorization
Organizations frequently need to authorize travel requests and handle mileage reimbursements for business travel. These are especially common in Universities and K-12 schools where faculty and staff often travel to conferences or for training purposes.
A manual travel authorization process allows too many opportunities for mistakes and abuse. Employees can overestimate their travel costs and file for more reimbursement than necessary. Or, employees who truly misplace their receipts can lose their reimbursement opportunity. Both situations are not ideal and completely avoidable with electronic workflows in place.
Here’s a typical travel request form that a University might use:
- Employee fills out travel request form to attend a conference with estimated expenses.
- Department Head approves.
- Employee travels to the conference.
- Employee reconciles actual expenses with approved expenses.
- If actual expenses are higher, the Department Head must approve again.
- The Business Office reimburses the employee.
6. Expense Claims
The finance department in most companies is also rife with manual processes. For example, expense reports are time-consuming and employees who file them manually have to sift through too many papers and Excel sheets. This wastes time on unnecessary paperwork that could instead be spent on more productive things.
Automating this process reduces unproductive time and the process is more consistent. For example, with an electronic process in place, it’s easy for the manager to approve certain parts while asking for review on others. Employees can also track the status of their expense report at any time.
A simple expense claim workflow would look something like this:
- Employee submits an expense report.
- Manager views and approves it.
- Finance reimburses the employee.
- Finance also enters data into the accounting system.
- Expense report documents are filed away for later retrieval.
Talent is the most important determinant of success in the 21st century. Attracting and retaining world-class talent has therefore become critical to the organization’s future.
An automated recruitment workflow standardizes the process to ensure small important steps are not missed. If one of these steps is not done in time or correctly, the process gets unnecessarily extended. This can lead to companies improperly assessing candidates, accidentally passing on qualified employees, and eventually hiring candidates that are not a good match for the organization.
Automation provides a clear step-by-step process that is followed every time to ensure no potential candidates are missed, and you’re finding the right match for your company.
A detailed recruitment workflow would look something like this:
- HR receives application
- Review and Evaluate Resume/CV
- Plan interview
- Conduct interview
- Make a job offer
- Send job offer
- If accepted, start onboarding process
8. Incident Reports
Any process that involves multiple teams is ripe for automation. Incident Reports, by their very nature, need to be submitted and dealt with as quickly as possible. They usually have to be evaluated by different teams to see what steps must be taken.
Manually, this is much harder, because too often employees are waiting for information. However, electronically, information is received in minutes, minimizing time wasted and allowing employees to solve issues faster.
A typical incident workflow might look like this:
- Employee reports incident
- First team assesses incident
- First team sends information to department head
- Find solution
- Create and assign response team
- Team implements solution
- Iterate until the incident is fully resolved
- Perform compliance/risk assessment to avoid incident in future
Businesses that choose to invest in automation accrue significant long-term benefits over those that stick with manual processes (business-as-usual). Manual work slows you down and exposes you to nimbler competition.
In today’s world, there’s no reason to delay automation. Modern platforms like frevvo are easy to use, cloud-based, and extremely affordable. Using simple, visual tools anyone can automate everyday workflows so that there’s no longer any need to manually route tasks between employees; the software does it for you.
Electronic workflows are easy to monitor, and they reduce avoidable errors. Businesses can analyze electronic data and optimize processes through workflow analysis.
In the end, workflow software will put make your company smarter, more efficient, and productive.