It’s 2 p.m. You’ve just had lunch and you need to get back to that report you were working on. But then you see it. The fresh pile of paperwork sitting on your desk waiting to be processed.
Before you know it, a couple of hours have gone by and you still haven’t gotten to that report you wanted to get to. As you head home at the end of the day, you have an unsettling feeling that your day wasn’t very productive, even though you were working the whole time.
Why is that?
Because you know your day would’ve been better spent on other tasks––like that report. Instead, you were stuck with a manual business process that could have been automated and taken off your plate. The truth is, a computer would’ve done it in half the amount of time you just spent.
In WorkMarket’s 2020 In(Sight) Report, 54% of employees surveyed said automation could save them up to two hours a day (or 240 hours annually). Seventy-eight percent of business leaders said it could save them even more, up to three hours.
In short, automating manual business processes can make your life easier. But it goes beyond that. Let’s look at the other benefits of workflow automation.
It’s the bane of our modern existence. From legal and finance to administration and HR, every aspect of our workplace involves some sort of form-filling, printing, copying, and scanning. We’ve even invented shredders purely to take care of these piles of paper.
And even as new digital solutions enter the market every day, paper usage in the U.S. is expected to increase through 2023.
The problem is that while companies can see the benefit of going digital, they’re often faced with the daunting task of making that transition.
So it’s easy to stick to what you know. Even if it can save millions of dollars for larger organizations.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Converting business processes to a digital workflow can be a simple step that produces incremental changes rather than an exhaustive effort requiring you to go through bureaucratic hoops and headaches.
Procurement. It’s one of the most core activities any business performs. Obviously, you must procure the raw materials and services you need to build your products. Otherwise, you can’t be a successful business.
Yet, procurement is persistently one of the most disorganized activities within most organizations. Often, that’s because procurement’s top priorities have not evolved to be in tune with the demands of a modern business.
It’s hard to blame the procurement department. After all, in many organizations they’re still stuck using Excel spreadsheets and email for routine processes. Without automation, employees are still spending a lot of time on paperwork. They don’t have the time to think bigger. About Corporate Social Responsibility or reducing everyday risks to the business.
Whether you’re a small or large business, process automation helps increase agility and sets your business up for success in the 21st century.
A typical organization deals with dozens of kinds of documents. These are everyday things like invoices, new hire paperwork, student records, 401(K) change request forms, contracts, purchase orders, absence records and so on.
Truth be told, you’re still likely to find large filing cabinets and folders filled with documents in many offices. People still print out their documents, stick them in a folder and put it in the corner filing cabinet. Of course, paper documents are hard to find, maintain, modify, send around etc. – the usual problems. They’re also vulnerable to disasters e.g. a fire could destroy years of information.
Today’s workflow software market is filled with confusing myths. In reality, automation has become affordable, easy and fast. Let’s clear up some of the worst misconceptions.
A workflow is an activity that someone in your organization performs on a routine basis to achieve a well-defined goal. Workflows are characterized by (i) a series of repetitive tasks and (ii) flow of data.
Common workflow examples used everyday across every business include purchase order processing, time off request approvals, travel reimbursements, and new hire onboarding.
Today, almost every business understands the benefits of automating these everyday processes. They know that talent is their most valuable resource and they don’t want employees to waste time on paper- or email-based processes.
In life or in business, risk taking has benefits and may even be an essential ingredient of success. Quite the opposite when it comes to procurement – the last thing you want is risk. A smoothly functioning procurement process is standardized and dependable.
Purchase Orders (PO) and Purchase Requisitions are extremely common documents that practically every business uses. They help businesses control costs, ensure that employees cannot bypass business standards and that the business gets the best possible deal. Problems are easier to track down. If the vendor delivers the wrong items, the signed copy of the purchase order proves what the business actually ordered.
Organizations create a sales order form to list the products and services being ordered by a customer. The customer may provide one or more purchase orders (PO) for that purpose.
The sales order is a document that’s created internally by the company so that it may process the order in a controlled manner with the necessary checks, authorizations and signatures in place. Generally, the sales order form includes any associated purchase orders for convenience. In some cases, the sales order may also be sent externally to the client for signature, for example, to formally accept Terms & Conditions.
Workflow analysis is the process by which your business examines data about its workflows, determines trends and improves their efficiency. In turn, this improves customer satisfaction and the competitiveness of the business itself.
In most cases, if you ask people why a particular workflow is setup the way it is, they’ll tell you “That’s how we’ve always done it.” The design probably made sense years ago but as the business and its environment have changed, the workflow was probably never updated.
Workflow analysis is the first step towards these necessary updates. Apply it in the following ways:
Organizations of every stripe – small businesses, schools & colleges, and even some large companies – continue to email Excel sheets to approve purchase requests and issue a purchase order. While that’s better than paper, Excel still has numerous disadvantages particularly in today’s mobile-centric, data-driven world. You need a fully digital solution.