Workflow Automation: How It Works With Examples

Data entry, copy-pasting emails, and generating slow responses to customers. Manual work is repetitive, monotonous and a huge time-waster. But it doesn’t have to stay.

In this post, find out how manual tasks at your organisation can be made more efficient through workflow automation.

  1. Definition of Workflow Automation
  2. How Does Workflow Automation work?
  3. Examples of Workflow Automation
  4. How To Get Started with Workflow Automation

Definition of Workflow Automation

Workflow automation can be defined as a sequence of automatic steps taken to finish a process. What this means for companies includes:

  • Accelerated Processes — Automated steps reduce lag time and delay between activities. They also accomplish tasks faster than normal, manual ways, enabling processes to complete more quickly.

  • Elimination of Unnecessary Manual Tasks — While leaving manual tasks in the hands of automated workflows, employees will have time to work on more strategic tasks of greater value.

  • Reduced Mistakes in Work — Workflow automation can help avoid human errors, which are otherwise commonly made in manual paperwork and data entry tasks.

  • Simplified Path to Growth — Collectively, higher quality processes coupled with a faster work pace can push businesses to grow further in simpler ways.

How Does Workflow Automation Work?

What exactly can you automate in a workflow? Different workflow software may offer varied automation functions. But the basic automation plugins usually includes:

🔔  Notifications

Automatic notifications enable you to inform customers or employees about an issue without time lag.

As long as the trigger event is executed, such notifications can be customised and delivered to 1, 10, even hundreds of users all at once. 

✅  Approvals

In automated workflows, approval requests will be automatically routed to your respective supervisors. This saves you time from drafting and sending emails to each of them. 

Once the supervisor(s) approve or reject a task, an automatic email will be sent to you with the review outcome enclosed.

📌  Set Business Rules

Many business processes don’t run in a straight line. It’s common to see workflows branching out into multiple paths, depending on various situations encountered. 

Take approval requests as an example. You may be in charge of producing documents A and B, where each shall be approved by Supervisors A and B respectively. In this case, you can set the following business rules in your workflow to automatically route the correct document to the correct supervisor:

  • If document = A is true, send to Supervisor A.

  • If document = B is true, send to Supervisor B.

📊  Add New Data to Database

If you’re collecting data e.g. from a form, you don’t have to manually key in or copy-paste them into your database. 

Adopting workflow automation will allow this transfer of data to be automatic,  and of course, done much faster than the average human.

Examples of Workflow Automation

To better understand how it works, here’re some real-life examples of workflow automation.

Hiring Process

Every workflow has to start with a first trigger step. In this example, the first trigger step is the submission of a job application form.

Examples of automated steps in this hiring workflow include:

  • The HR manager and job candidate are automatically notified of the job application form submission. 
  • If the HR manager approves the application, it will be automatically routed to the hiring manager for approval. Otherwise, an automatic rejection notification will be sent to the candidate.

For companies that receive huge numbers of job applications, HR managers will be able to process applications and get back to candidates at a faster rate, making the hiring process more efficient.

Expense Reimbursement

The first trigger step in this workflow is the submission of an expense reimbursement form.

Examples of automated steps in this expense reimbursement workflow include:

  • Automatic routing of requests to the correct approvers based on pre-defined business rules. 
  • Automatic notifications to employees about request outcomes.

You can refer here for more workflow examples.

How Do I Get Started with Workflow Automation?

1. Get A No-Code Workflow Automation Software

As challenging as “automation” may sound, you really don’t have much to worry about if you’re using a workflow software. Particularly, a no-code one.

No-code platforms often provide a drag-and-drop interface that will enable you to achieve workflow automation without coding. 

In other words, there’ll be no need for you to hire a technical developer, nor to learn any programming knowledge to automate your business.

2. Design A Workflow Diagram

Using the software, design a workflow diagram. 

The methods to creating a workflow may differ depending on the workflow software you use. In the case of Forma, users can:

  • Select automation plugins relevant to their process (e.g. Notification plugin, Approval plugin)

  • Drag and drop to connect the plugins in sequence

  • Double-click each plugin to customise their configurations

3. Let The Software Do The Rest

Once you’re done, the software will automate the workflow for you. No other work is needed on your end.

Interested in workflow automation? You can try it for free with Forma.