There are 7 easy steps to efficient workflow automation. Bonus: Why automate and which questions do you need to ask before starting.
Workflow automation isn’t only about making things move faster. It’s about keeping your business processes systematic, transparent, and easy to manage.
Why use workflow automation and how to complete the transition successfully: Read on to learn the answers.
A typical workflow automation example is an approval process. What does it look like prior to automation? A few people excessively exchange emails; nobody knows which version of an Excel sheet or Word document is the last one—the project manager keeps asking what stage the process is at.
How does workflow automation work?
It creates a digital track of your business process and pushes an input message through a sequence of stages. Each stage is assigned to an employee or team. Once the tasks in the stage are complete, the process moves to the next stage automatically.
You are only seven steps away from this new digital reality.
7 Steps to Workflow Automation
Based on many years of consulting experience, we have identified a few universal workflow automation steps.
1. Find Patterns in Your Business Routines
You should revise your business processes and find out which tasks are performed in a unified way. Indeed, you know your business better than anyone, but an automation consultant may point you to some hidden potential and should be a part of the transition from the very beginning.
2. Define Your Business Goals
What does workflow automation do in your case? It saves costs, makes it more transparent, and accelerates other processes. For instance, if transparency isn’t your aim due to the confidentiality character of information, your implementation partner should know about it.
3. Talk With Future Process Owners
People who will initiate the workflow should provide their feedback at an early stage. You may as well ask your implementation partner to undertake this part and conduct interviews with your employees.
4. Draw the Prototype
Remember to include a security matrix. You may want to make some stages visible only for a few selected management roles.
5. Choose Your Workflow Automation Tools
Decide on out-of-the-box or custom tools, cloud or on-premise tools, and an all-around or niche platform.
6. Review Proof of Concept
Your consultant will translate specifications into a prototype and walk you through the implementation.
7. Test and Train
Select a few users to test the delivered result and create training materials based on their first-hand experience. Then let all other users familiarize themselves with the digitalized workflows.
Now you’re ready to roll it out within the entire organization.
7 Questions to Clarify Before Automation
Steps 1 and 2 from the previous section deserve special attention. The more precisely you describe your routine processes, the better the outcome.
We prepared the following checklist:
1. Where and how should the process start: an email, an online form, or a customer call?
2. Which information is mandatory to include?
3. Who is involved and what are their roles (manager, editor, observer)?
4. What are the stages and what are the responsibilities in each stage?
5. Should the workflow be granted access to other processes or databases?
6. How does the process end?
7. How should it be archived?
The checklist is designed for companies of all sizes to help start implementing workflow automation, even for small businesses.
We will be honest with you: Implementing workflow automation involves costs and efforts on your side. You’ll need to spend some time answering questions of your implementation partner and discussing mockups. Your employees will need some time to learn new routines.
However, in the short run, you will see the first benefits of saving time and managing bigger workloads. In the long run, the cumulative effect of all spared efforts and money will result in an ROI increase.
Laminar can assist you at every stage of your digital transformation and will ensure you get the most efficient workflow automation tools.
Out-of-the-Box or Custom CDP: Which One Fits Your Business?
Customer data platforms: building a custom one vs. buying a vendor solution. Learn about the advantages and obstacles of both implementation approaches.
Customer relations, customer journey, customer tracking … Shouldn’t there be a way to bring these ingredients together for a blockbuster marketing attack?
What Is Customer Data Platform (CDP)?
CDP solutions have settled in the analytics market just recently. Their architectures are quite diverse, and it’s mainly their purpose that unites them under that umbrella definition.
From a technical point of view, CDPs are data lakes, data pipelines, and business intelligence tools at the same time, but tailored solely for marketing purposes. In their core functionality, CDPs are customer data hubs that feed marketing channels with discovered insights.
CDP software, or more often, a CDP cloud solution, works with both first-party and third-party data. It can consume web, app, and event tracking data and contact and past campaigns data from your CRM, as well as marketing data that you buy from an external provider.
Why Do You Need a CDP?
Once the data is ingested, the CDP provides analytical insights to use for further customer segmentation. Depending on the vendor, CDPs can also assist in tag management and website personalization. They can handle bigger data volumes than other marketing technology solutions.
Moreover, their USP feature is identity resolution: de-anonymization of the customer data.
Although most of the CDPs don’t have functionality for sending out newsletters or booking online ads; they do provide a ground for marketing outreach. For instance, a CDP can build a single customer view, which is an ultimate dossier on a client that specifies their buying behavior and past touching points with your brand.
Out-of-the-Box vs. Custom Solutions
There are quite a few CDP vendors competing heavily. Consequently, one may think that a custom CDP is a must. This isn’t completely untrue.
In fact, like with any other software, you have to balance between expected business value, available resources, and possible risks. Companies with dedicated developer teams choose to build custom platforms. Indeed, their stakeholders have to lose one or two years while they create these platforms from scratch.
As a reward, custom CPDs provide advanced integrations that won’t miss any precious drop of customer data. Quite often, matching offline and online visits means lots of trouble for a generic CDP solution.
If you need results quickly, don’t hesitate to get an out-of-the-box CDP. For instance, you feel that the market turned favorable for your business. Then you’d better start digging into your customers’ profiles immediately with a ready CDP solution.
A Nice Alternative
“You cannot have both!” is not the case here. You can use a hybrid approach to introducing a CDP. It’s possible to buy an off-the-shelf solution and keep only the core features, like data pipelines, identity match, and intuitive user interface for marketers. Customizing the rest with your in-house developers may turn affordable.
If not, and you have to hire more people, consider buying a few niche CDP solutions. it can get messy, can’t it?
Thus, before you commit to any solution, create a thorough plan for CDP implementation and set your priorities.
How to Plan a CDP Implementation
Any good IT project starts with a few workshops you hold with your most important stakeholders. During these rounds, you should gather prerequisites and expectations for the future CDP—incoming data you have and what kind of output data your marketing channels need.
After that, you can begin by evaluating the integration. Answers to the following questions will shape the future project direction:
- Which data do we bring into the CDP?
- How much data cleaning do we need?
- How do we map the data?
The technical concept must reflect your business goals and enhance existing workflows, but remain realistic. If existing out-of-the-box CDPs barely match with it, you need a custom one.
The planning stage predestines your project to success or failure. A competent implementation partner, such as Laminar, foresees possible challenges and helps you stay on the right track to roll out a revenue-generating CDP solution.