What is Workflow Automation?

Workflow automation is the use of technology to automatically perform repetitive tasks within a business process. It aims to simplify and standardize work by reducing tedious manual labour. The end result is efficient, optimized workflows where people are freed up to focus on more strategic, creative tasks.

Workflow automation is not about replacing people with cheaper, automated alternatives – it’s about freeing human bandwidth for what humans do best – think creatively, solve problems and build relationships.

Today, every single business function benefits from automated processes. Automated solutions exist for practically every non-creative, non-strategic task- from finance to human resources. 

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How Does Workflow Automation Work?

Automation is the use of technology to perform tasks typically done by humans. It uses software to handle repetitive, predictable tasks, freeing up human time and effort for creative and strategic work. 

Today, automation is practically omnipotent. Our washing machines have automated wash-rinse-spin cycles; our daily alarm clocks are automated on our smartphones. 

The biggest impacts of automation can be felt in business. By automating workflows and business processes, businesses have been able to increase profits and productivity manifold. 

Read more: AP Automation

Benefits of Workflow Automation

There are undeniable benefits to automating business processes inside an organization. 

  • Increased efficiency: Automating tasks saves time and resources, leading to faster execution and increased productivity.
  • Reduced errors: Manual tasks are prone to human error, but automation ensures consistent and accurate execution.
  • Improved compliance: Workflows can be designed to adhere to specific rules and regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance.
  • Enhanced visibility: Workflow automation tools provide real-time insights into your processes, allowing you to track progress and identify bottlenecks.
  • Reduced Labor Costs: Automating repetitive tasks can free up personnel for more strategic roles, potentially reducing overall labour costs. This can be particularly beneficial for businesses with high volumes of repetitive tasks.

Read more: Strategic Cost Management

How to Automate a Workflow

Certain workflows are extremely easy to automate, while others simply cannot be automated. Here’s a quick guide on identifying and implementing these automatable workflows.

    1. Examine current workflows to pinpoint areas that are:
      ✅ Repetitive
      ✅ Time-consuming
      ✅ Prone to human error
      ✅ Involves multiple steps
      ✅ Causes bottlenecks
    2. Prioritize those workflows that would significantly benefit from automation in the form of time savings, cost improvements, etc.
    3. Choose the right automation tool. The ideal tool should seamlessly integrate with your existing systems, work with the technical expertise of your team and fit your budget.
    4. Implement the tool by providing training, guidance and collecting feedback from users.
    5. Measure the impact by tracking KPIs to show the value of automating the particular workflow. This also provides insights into what to improve and refine.

Examples of Workflow Automation

Here are a few examples of how business processes across functions are automated. 

Human Resource Management Automation

The HR function has some of the most repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

In the days before workflow automation, most HR executives were constantly drowning in paperwork and red tape. HRM automation reimagines HR executives from paper pushers to strategic partners.  

Onboarding: Welcome emails, system accesses, paperwork and documentation can all be automated, leaving HR free to build relationships with employees and personalize the onboarding experience. 

Performance Review: AI and automation can analyze performance data throughout the year, generate feedback reports and suggest development opportunities. 

Payroll: Automated payroll software like RazorpayX Payroll can take monthly payroll tasks off the hands of HR – these solutions can automate compliance filings, disburse salaries and integrate with other HRMS tools for a one-stop HR dashboard.  

Finance Workflow Automation

Finance tasks like spend approvals, recording g, reporting and analysis, managing accounts payables and receivables and more can be automated with finance workflow automation. 

Data Entry: With automation, tedious manual tasks like data extraction, invoice data capture and bank statement reconciliation can be handled automatically.

Approval Process: Automated workflows on RazorpayX Business Banking+ can route invoices, purchase orders, and other documents for digital approvals, keeping things moving smoothly and seamlessly.  

Reporting and Analysis: The RazorpayX Business Banking+ suite can generate and send out financial reports like daily sales reports and balance sheets, giving everyone real-time access to the data they need for informed decision-making.

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Marketing & Sales Workflow Automation

It might be counterintuitive to imagine that automation can improve marketing and sales – a business’s most creative, personal departments, but automation has managed to penetrate and optimize even these. 

Lead Lifecycle Management: Automated solutions are able to capture, qualify and nurture leads with no manual intervention.

For example, personalized email sequences based on lead interest and behaviour can improve conversion rates.

Qualified leads can also be automatically assigned to the right salesperson for follow-up, freeing up managers to carry out more strategic tasks.

Sales Engagement: Automating outreach emails, drip campaigns and managing follow-ups frees sales and marketing teams from tedious tasks, allowing them to focus on more high-value activities. 

Insights and Tracking: With automated analysis and data recording, marketers and salespeople can track performance metrics and optimize workflows for gaps in the funnel.  

Vendor Management Workflow Automation

With automation, vendor management becomes error-free, efficient and accurate. Every stage of the vendor lifecycle can be optimized with the help of automation. 

Vendor Onboarding: Solutions like RazorpayX Source to Pay provide vendor portals for self-onboarding, KYC and document sharing, freeing up finance and procurement teams’ bandwidth. 

Purchase Order Management: With automated solutions like RazorpayX Source to Pay, tedious processes like manual PO creation and approval are optimized into highly efficient, accurate and transparent workflows. POs are sent to vendors electronically, ensuring the vendors have clear instructions and access to documentation. 

Invoice Processing & 3-way Matching: RazorpayX Source to Pay’s Automated systems can validate invoices against POs and GRNs; catching discrepancies that human eyes might miss. Payments can also be automated to trigger timely payments, which improves cash flow and vendor relationships. 

Will Automation Take My Job?

The simple answer: no. Robots and automation work only as enablement tools. The intent behind automating tasks is to enable humans to do their tasks better. 

For example, payroll automation software can only crunch numbers, calculate taxes, and schedule payments. It cannot handle the nuances of employee inquiries, address discrepancies or navigate complex situations like changing regulations – only an experienced, qualified finance manager can handle these tasks. 

The need for human judgement, empathy and adaptability remains evergreen. Automation should be seen as a tool for improvement learning new skills and focusing on our unique human strengths. With automation and AI also come a new set of jobs in the realms of machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

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Does my business need workflow automation?

Today, every business needs workflow automation. Without automation, your business ends up being bogged down by tedious manual tasks that other businesses have automated. It's important to free up employee bandwidth for more creative, strategic tasks, and workflow automation makes that happen.

What are the types of workflow automation?

All kinds of workflows can be automated. Finance workflows, HR management workflows, marketing workflows - any task that is repetitive, manual and time-consuming should be automated.

How do you create a workflow automation?

Once you've identified which workflow you would like to automate, the next step is to find the right tool to help you automate it. Implementing the tool is the next step, which includes ensuring your team is well-trained and fully understands how to use the tool. Consistently monitoring and collecting feedback on the automated workflow is equally important.


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