The way your work flows within your business is critical to both efficiency and quality of work. Even routine processes can become a tangled mess if the workflow isn’t clear and simple to follow. This leads many smart businesses to use workflow automation software to help them manage the path traveled by every task until it’s completed. This way, the system automatically directs data wherever it needs to go, making day-to-day workflow management nearly effortless.
A workflow automation system helps keep people from becoming bogged down in repetitive processes. It automatically follows up on incomplete tasks and gives users a bird’s eye view of how things are going with performance metrics. That’s a big picture most businesses can get behind. But what should you be looking for in workflow automation software? Let’s take a look at some things to keep in mind.
Running KPI Reports
A lot of workflow tools will let you see the status and milestones in key processes, but if you really want better productivity, you’ll need solid reporting of key performance indicators, or KPIs. This reporting can help you realize when processes aren’t running as efficiently as you thought, and diagnose the problem. KPI’s also provide valuable insight into processes that could be improved with additional or fewer steps. With good reporting, you’ll be able to more easily identify bottlenecks and risks, helping you make sound decisions.
A good workflow automation and management tool should help you design workflows via a simple interface. Programming code is necessary to make everything work, but most of your users probably aren’t programmers. Process owners and other stakeholders need to be able to design and change workflows and outline the key steps without messing with code.
The better workflow automation tools will offer drag-and-drop form design tools, so you can easily create any type of form you need. You’ll need tons of fields, maps, calculations, drop-down menus, ability to link databases, and more. Form design is a big part of workflow management, so if you don’t love that part of the software, it might not be the right match for your team.
Integrating Other Services
Workflows will impact — and are impacted by — lots of other processes. You’ll need easy integration with sales reporting tools, documents, contact lists, calendars, CMS, financial systems, etc. All the integrations you need should be easy to put into action.
You shouldn’t have to check in with your workflow automation system 8 times a day to see what’s going on. According to TigerPaw, “Workflow alerts keep the communication channels flowing throughout your organization and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.” And that’s a big deal.
Consider this: as soon as a new process is started, as long as everyone does their job, the process should be self-sustaining enough to hit “complete” without intervention. Notifications are key to this ability. You should be able to set up emails or push notifications on your phone, so when you have an approval coming up, you get a reminder. Other stakeholders should be notified of tasks and upcoming due dates, too, so make sure notifications are customizable for each user, depending on their role and needs.
Creating Role-Based Access
Sensitive information should only be accessible to those who need it. Your workflow automation system can help you customize every user’s privileges. You should be able to decide what they can see and what changes they can make, and be able to change those settings without an undesirable domino effect that alters historical requests.
The price you pay for your workflow management system should be clear, and based only on your needs. Your system should be scalable for growth, but if you only need to automate one process among a handful of processes, you shouldn’t be paying for a system built for a large corporation. Monthly pay-as-you-go pricing models with a clear, all-inclusive fee for each user might be your best bet. And companies that won’t tell you pricing right upfront might be trying to upsell you from the get-go.
In this day and age, there is no need to settle for workflow automation software that isn’t an ideal fit. As you do your research, compare plenty of choices do a thorough test drive to learn which system is the best fit for your needs. When your efficiency improves, you’ll be glad you took the time to find the best system and automate your workflows.