What is Workflow Automation?

What is a Workflow?At Ayehu, we spend a lot of time thinking, talking and writing about workflows. It occurred to us, however, that for some, the concept of a workflow may not be such a huge part of their day to day lives. In fact, many are new to workflows or have only recently begun encountering them. To make things a little bit easier, we thought we’d take a few moments to break down precisely what a workflow is, as well as when and how workflow automation is used to get those who are unfamiliar up to speed.

To start, let’s take a look at the components that must be present in order for an activity to be considered a workflow.

  • It must include a series of predictable steps
  • It must be repetitive
  • Done manually, it must involve 2 or more people

If any of these three things are not present, the activity isn’t a workflow. This makes sense if you think of how workflow automation works by taking a repetitive task and automating its predictable steps so they no longer have to be done manually. The steps of a workflow may be either concurrent or sequential, in which each one depends on the previous.

Now that you know the definition of a workflow, let’s delve into how to actually map one out. Chances are you’re encountering workflows every day, without even realizing it. For instance, if you’ve ever found that you couldn’t complete a particular task because you were waiting for someone else to complete his or her piece of the process, you’re probably taking part in a workflow. To draw one of these out, grab a pen and paper and do the following.

  1. Verify that the three elements listed above are present (to determine whether it is, indeed a workflow)
  2. Determine the purpose of the workflow (i.e. is it meant to increase productivity, speed up a particular process, etc.?)
  3. List out the steps, one by one, from start to completion
  4. Assign a role to each step (who is responsible for ensuring that each component gets completed)
  5. Account for deviations (what happens if one or more steps aren’t completed, or some other scenario arises?)

Once you’ve mapped out the details of a particular workflow, the next step is determining whether that process could be automated. With workflow automation, you can achieve a number of significant benefits right from the start, such as:

  • Maximize efficiency and productivity levels
  • Eliminate mistakes and redundancies
  • Increase speed of processing, which can boost service levels
  • Enhance visibility of progress and establish greater accountability

Of course, the best way to see how beneficial workflow automation can be is to experience it for yourself.

If you’ve taken the steps listed above and mapped out one or more workflows, why not test out how automation can improve the process?

Download your free trial today to get started.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

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