There are many benefits that come along with optimizing your workflow, including an increase in productivity. But the biggest outcome of an effective workflow is money.The biggest outcome of an effective workflow is money. Click To Tweet
Research shows that inefficient workflows can cost up to 30% of your company’s revenue. This means that one missed email or delayed signature could result in lost revenue, and any task that’s delayed is more work for someone down the line.
So how can companies ensure that their workflows are truly optimized? Automation. Automating workflows removes the human element from the equation and creates a reliable process that can cut costs where it matters most.
Here are a few of the reasons why automation matters when it comes to your bottom line, and what you can do to make sure you’re automating the right processes.
How Workflows Impact Revenue
How your company spends its time matters. Most businesses are deadline driven, which means that the faster tasks can get done, the more things will be accomplished, and the better the end results will be (which is a win for your customers).
In an article for Inbound Logistics, Tom Heine, CEO of Aljex Software, describes how each minute counts when it comes to saving money:
“Every function employees deal with has a cost in hourly pay, salary, or commission. Whether they are paid for increments of time is immaterial. Time is still money. That’s because there are only so many minutes in a day. And, if that day includes lots of repeated functions that could be automated but are not, the result is more loads that could have been dispatched, more revenue that could have been earned, or—at the very least—missed opportunities.”
Effective workflows provide the necessary triggers that make things happen when they should, which means that opportunities aren’t missed and money is being spent to further productive operations.
But the only way to ensure that a workflow is truly effective is to make it run with minimal energy from your employees. If your workflow doesn’t automatically handle tasks, send alerts or trigger processes, your team will waste more time checking and double-checking the workflow, making the cost-savings obsolete.
Why You Need Automation
The key, therefore, is not just having a workflow, but having an automated workflow. Here are the biggest reasons why.
Reason #1: Eliminating Distractions
According to one survey by Think Money, employees waste 759 hours each year due to workplace distractions. The most significant reasons given by workers for why they waste time include not being challenged, no incentives to work harder, no satisfaction from the job and being downright bored, the latter of which can result from piles of tedious tasks that provide no immediate incentive.
Automation eliminates tedious tasks from employees, improving engagement and allowing them to focus on more skill-related activities.
Reason #2: Reducing Customer Service Burden
One of the biggest benefits to using automation is experienced by the customer service department. Studies show that 67% of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration that they could not talk to a real person, and 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent.
You want to make people available to reach customers, but you also want customer service to happen quickly, ensuring that questions are answered and people are reached in a timely manner.
Many customer service representatives or help-desk personnel can become bogged down in administrative tasks. Automation eliminates the slower processes (paperwork, notifications, etc.) that prevent them from doing their job.
Reason #3: Improving Management Efficiency
Managers often spend their days attempting to keep employees on task, putting out fires or otherwise trying to make processes more efficient. Making sure that everyone is engaged, on target, and following through on their respective duties can be difficult.
Workflow automation gives managers better insight into the work done by members of the team and allows for the monitoring of the business variables so sensible business decisions can be made. Up-to-date information limits problems from getting out of hand and provides managers with essential information requisite for steering any business to the right direction.
Reason #4: Increasing Production Capacity
Some businesses face limitations when it comes to processing orders or requests or otherwise completing tasks on time. Some go to the length of hiring extra employees during busy seasons or investing in expensive software in order to increase their production capacity.
Often, the problem isn’t the need for more workers or even more expensive systems. Streamlining the process, eliminating redundancies and unnecessary tasks can actually make the most use out of the people and systems already in place.
Automating workflows to fit production needs can save costs that would otherwise be put towards unnecessary payroll and software.
Reason #5: Shifting the Blame (Appropriately)
When things go wrong, it can be easy to blame employees or even customers for backups in the workflow process. While many workflow problems happen as the result of human error (which automation can solve, too), some issues can happen with a poorly implemented workflow itself.
Automating manual workflow processes can help you spot flaws in the workflow faster. For example, if documents sent to a certain department for approval should be saving you time, but things still are slow, even with automation, it could point to an overall workflow issue.
Automation allows you to identify the bottlenecks in your operations faster so that you don’t waste time on tasks that aren’t actually benefiting your company.
Choosing the Right Automation Tool
Of course, knowing which processes need to be automated and which tool will help is half of the battle. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to incorporating workflow automation, ask yourself these questions.
1. Where is our biggest pain point?
There are automated solutions for every part of your business, so determining which automation tools will help you streamline your operations comes down to determining your biggest areas of slowdown.
First, look at your workflow. Where is there a poor response time? Where are customers getting angry? Where are sales floundering? If there are any minor tasks slowing down operations, that’s a good indicator that automation is needed.
2. Does our current workflow solve our pain points?
You may already have processes in your workflow that solve your pain points; you’re just not using them (or you’re not using them correctly). Take some time to assess your current tools and whether or not they’re saving you time.
You may find that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a workflow automation system, but that a small fix or automation tool that integrates with your current system can resolve the issue rather painlessly.
3. Do our automation tools have enough support?
Finally, you need to make sure that your employees understand how to use your chosen automation tools appropriately, they can incorporate them into their current workload, and that they know who to go to for support.
You shouldn’t have to maintain your own systems. Before shelling out money on automation software, have your team test the tool and try out scenarios that your company is likely to encounter. If you encounter problems, make sure that the team behind the automation tools can handle it quickly and easily so you don’t have to do more work than necessary.
Workflow automation tools are designed to save you time, and most importantly, money. If your current workflow processes or tools aren’t doing that, then it may be time to look for an alternative.
But if you’re not using any form of automation, you should be. Automating your workflow can save you on labor as well as boost your revenue and otherwise streamline your processes so things can run smoothly.
If you’re not currently automating tasks as a part of your workflow, and you’re unsure where to start, take an inventory of your pain points to determine which automation tools will help and which tasks will make the most impact on your bottom line.