March 29, 2016 by Mitch Taube Categories: Office Automation

Workflow automation is a method of expediting and streamlining business document processes to improve efficiency, reduce costs and provide transparency. It can generate a great return on investment because it leads to quick wins and higher profitability. The most effective solutions eliminate critical issues that result from a manually-based document workflow.

Workflow automation solutions, like automated document processing, help increase operational efficiency, accelerate document processing times, reduce errors, assure accountability and lower costs. The right workflow automation solution should be tailored to your business’ rules and regulations. Once you’ve implemented automation, you’ll see that your business moves much faster and generates healthier profits than ever before.

But how to get started? These 4 easy steps will get you moving in the right direction:

1. Identify the source of your pain

You know what general issues hold your office back, and what general problems need solving. But do you know what those problems are exactly? Think of yourself as a doctor diagnosing a disease: you need to know the specific ailment before prescribing treatment. So it goes with workflow automation. Employee inefficiency, chronic late payment, inability to quickly find documents and poor customer service are just the tip of the iceberg. Processing invoices on time, keeping up with HR onboarding documentation, knowing which documents are missing from a file necessary to complete a project and keeping up with order fulfillment can all individually lead to your business hemorrhaging funds, never mind what can happen when more than one of these work together. What’s holding your business back?

2. Document your process

Once you know what the problems are, take a thorough accounting of where your business’ document workflow stands today. What’s working? What’s failing? What rules or regulations affect your document handling processes? Where is everything, and why? Who’s in charge? Set up a flowchart, if that helps, to better understand a document’s path. Know what particular areas need improving, and where the real issues are.

3. Be SMART

Now that you know the problems and can see them in action, you need a plan. When determining new objectives and goals, though, be SMART. That’s an anagram for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. While it’s good to aim for the stars, a simple fix could be the secret to unlocking a clogged revenue stream. Chase specific, attainable goals that are relevant to your issues, and fix them in a timely manner while providing measurable evidence of each endeavor’s success.

4. One bite at a time

You don’t want to try to solve all of your problems at once. Instead, workflow automation solutions are all about the process. Be sure to take things one step at a time and to make absolutely certain each implementation is completed, with known results, before moving onto the next one. That means starting with one process (such as AP processing or your mailroom), developing a new system for handling it, and running that successfully before expanding. Take the time necessary to verify success as you go, from one objective to the next, and you’ll enjoy much more of it.

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