Workflow automations are becoming increasingly popular, and more and more automation platforms keep popping up.
Despite the hype, when it comes to automation we find our clients often have questions — like what is an “automated workflow?” And is it really worth the effort and tools required to set up?
Below we take an in-depth look at workflow automation to clear up some uncertainties, illustrate the power of automation, and help you get started. In the first part of this two-part series, we'll review automation and discuss why you should consider automating. In part two, we'll examine how to automate with a deep-dive into tools, terminology, and tips for success.
What Is An Automated Workflow?
Workflow automation refers to the collective set of steps or processes that are wholly or partially automated, with the assistance of an electronic tool or software program. Automations simplify and speed up previously manual processes by automatically setting activities in motion based upon predetermined “rules” and criteria. We’ll delve more into what a rule is (as well as go over some other lingo) below!
Types Of Automated Workflows
When it comes to workflows, the sky’s the limit. There are many different software programs available, enabling you to automate anything and everything needed to run your business. Some of the most common automation types include:
As the name suggests, marketing automation helps with the process of nurturing a lead and getting them to the point of sales. Marketing automation workflows can even follow the lead once they convert into a client, to increase retention and satisfaction! Marketing automations often include email programs (automated emails that send out to recipients based upon their position within your funnel or status as a client).
Task automation is as broad as it sounds, and there are a variety of workplace tasks which can be automated. A task could be anything from sending an email, backing up files, reminding yourself to make a follow-up call, sharing data between programs, or checking-in with a team member. Use your imagination!
Workflow management refers to tasks needed to run your business. Automations can often make these tasks substantially easier to complete, saving you time and money (we’ll delve into these benefits more below). Workflow management could be something such as following a lead from expression of interest through the sales funnel, or it could be automating a review process for team members to ensure each and every report you send moves through review in a timely and organized matter.
Setting up an automation may seem like a lot of work, and if you’re unfamiliar with the tools and terms it can seem a bit intimidating. In fact, you may wonder — why even bother in the first place? There are many, many reasons to implement an automated workflow, and those who take the automated route will not be disappointed. Below we’ve compiled ten (yes, ten!) ways automation can help improve your day-to-day.
10 Reasons To Automate Your Workflow
1. Save Time: Automating eliminates the need for many manual processes, and in doing so saves ample amounts of time for you and your employees. We all know time is money, so saving time with automation is an easy way to free up resources and stretch your budget.
2. Free Up Resources: We touched on this above, but when previously-manual processes are automated, it frees up your resources (employees) to spend their time and focus on other, higher-level projects and assignments which propel your business. Which leads us to #3.
3. Increase Productivity: When you have more time, you can be more productive! With automation no one has to spend valuable time on low-level tasks, and can consequently increase productivity on other projects.
4. Increase Consistency: Consistency is a huge benefit of automation. Whether consistency means sending out a consistent (and mistake-free) message via email automation, guaranteeing every document is approved as required, or ensuring you follow the same process for each and every prospect, it’s a positive for you and your brand.
5. Reduce Stress: Despite our best efforts to plan, “life” and urgent tasks frequently interrupt even the most organized among us. With automation, you don’t have to fret if you need to run out to take care of a family situation, or perhaps you need to focus on an urgent unexpected item in the workplace. Emails are sent automatically, reminders can be set for tasks to be done later when you return, and you can lessen day-to-day stress.
6. Eliminate Mistakes: Human error happens, but can be greatly reduced by automating your workflow or communications. With automation everything is sent out at the correct time and is accurate. As the content you put into the workflow has been reviewed (and re-reviewed) at time of setup, there is no risk for errors such as typos to occur.
7. Improve Organization: Automations help you stay organized! Either by doing for you, or by keeping you accountable to the workflows you set up yourself.
8. Simplify Content Approvals: Rather than seeking approval on many, disparate emails over time, simply approve the automation flow upfront and then once it’s configured and reviewed, there is no need for additional or ongoing reviews/approvals.
9. Don’t Miss Feedback: When processes such as internal review processes are automated, you never forget to give the document the final once-over or get the sign-off you need. Forget chasing people down or sifting through dense email chains.
10. Tracking and Reporting: With automation, data is recorded and presented back to you within a user-friendly platform. Can't recall if you sent a lead an email? Don't remember if you reviewed the latest version of the press release? Don't know how long ago you had a check in and if you should give a follow up call? Automation programs track your actions and communications for you, so you can look at a glance and see the status or details surrounding any project!
Now that you know why you should consider automation, in our next post we'll tackle how. Read part two here: How to Create an Automated Workflow.