Computer chip with an image of gears representing work flow automation

What is workflow automation?


Gain insight into workflow automation and how it is helping businesses grow and scale today.

Read time: 4 minutes

Workflow automation, sometimes referred to as process automation, replaces manual labor with software-driven intelligence to execute repetitive tasks with greater speed, enhanced accuracy, and increased employee efficiency – as part of a larger effort to reduce expenses and increase overall productivity.

Workflow automation systems are everywhere today

Businesses across all industries are embracing workflow automation; especially in post-pandemic business environments where employees, customers, and vendors work remotely and often connect only digitally.

Gone are the days of handing a file to a co-worker in a cubicle nearby. And with the continued increase in hybrid workplaces, your coworker is just as likely working from the home office as being nearby!

Automated workflows ensure information is secured, immediately accessible, and editable by all members of the team, wherever they work. In healthcare, for example, the act of calling or faxing in a prescription on behalf of a patient seems like a mundane task…until you consider that staff has to do this hundreds of times every day for a multitude of patients potentially using any pharmacy in the area code – without error.

Or think about more labor-intensive repetitive tasks like on-boarding new employees, creating IT troubleshooting tickets, generating invoices, printing insurance claim packages, or scanning mountains of employee expense documents into an indexable document management system.

These and other types of critical information must be communicated in a timely – and trackable – manner, with 100% accuracy in content and recipient. The tracking is not about micromanaging the process, but rather to ensure accountability and compliance while delivering the best possible experience for customer, employee, and end-user.

We can think about the implications such as the wrong prescription being delivered to the wrong patient, or confidential financial information being sent to the wrong client. Data security and compliance concerns are as big an issue as the disruption (and embarrassment) of the miscommunicated information.

The benefits of workflow automation become clear: eliminating human error, backlogs, and delays caused by overwhelmed employees, distractions, or emergencies, while improving data security, compliance, and reducing costs. 

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Workflow Automation Software

Workflow automation software weaves together a series of software-defined actions into a larger, more complex workflow that is executed with limited human intervention.

Many applications feature pre-built workflow automation modules and applets that can be linked using a simple drag-and-drop interface. Users can route scanned hardcopy documents or create paperless files, auto populate form fields, or trigger billing actions when an order is placed on the website, for example. Developers can easily build customized workflows scripting original code actions to create proprietary solutions that automate nearly any task.

To continue the prescription fulfillment example, the proper drug and dosing information can be automatically routed to the patient’s preferred pharmacy upon entering the data into the patient’s electronic health record (EHR). The paperless workflows allow staff to focus on the next patient, knowing the prescription will be properly filled while simultaneously storing patient data in the right place, in the right format, with the right file name, without delay, at the push of a button.

Or perhaps a manufacturing company has partners and clients who use a variety of file formats and sharing systems. Some workflow automation software can automatically copy and convert files uploaded to Google Drive to appropriate folders in OneDrive or Dropbox for everyone to access using their preferred platform.

With workflow automation software, you can find a solution for almost any workflow or process. The challenge is finding the right one for you.

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Choosing the best workflow automation solution

How much can your organization benefit from workflow automation?

Perhaps the challenge is where to begin. There are many automation tools available that can help save your business time and money but finding the right one for you can be overwhelming.

For example, do you go with a simple yet customizable workflow solution like Smart Integration to convert paper into digital workflows?

Or maybe you need a cloud fax solution to address a currently fax intensive process. Many companies are turning to document management systems like DocuWare for centralized, secured content management with built-in workflows.

Then there’s support. Questions to consider when looking at a solution include:

  • Do you have the resources to manage the application?

  • How will it scale with your business needs as you grow?

  • Is there expertise available to ensure you get the most out of the tool?

Often, companies looking at making this step of a digital transformation by employing workflow automation solution find a partner can help a lot.

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An experienced workflow automation partner who knows your industry can help guide your journey in finding the best solution for your business. We’ve been helping customers do exactly this for years. Whether it’s streamlining digital workflows through IT and cloud services, capturing paper from mail, fax, or traditional paper workflows, our professionals can assist.

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