The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Workflow Automation

By: Sean Cummings

January 19, 2023

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Workflow Automation

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.

Why Automate?

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.

Closing Words

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.

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