Workflow management and business process management (BPM) are similar concepts, but they are not exactly the same.
If you’re not sure of the difference between BPM and workflow software, you’re not alone.
Both workflows and BPM address business needs by getting things done more efficiently and with fewer errors, but their roles in a business differ. This naturally leads to the question of whether a business needs separate workflow software and BPM software. In some cases, they probably do. But in many cases, the right automation platform empowers businesses to address both workflow and BPM needs.
It’s important to understand the differences in what BPM and workflow management are meant to accomplish before making your decision.
BPM: Strategic and Organizational
BPM addresses the entire organization, focusing on processes that can be analyzed, executed, monitored, and optimized so the business can gain a competitive edge. BPM is a strategic tool kit that assists businesses with continual process improvement.
The focus with BPM software is more strategic and geared toward improving staff productivity and helping leadership measure and control operational processes. While BPM software has workflow features, it allows businesses to organize data, generate insightful reports, and generally ensure that processes operate optimally.
Workflows: Tactical and Often Departmental
Workflow software operates on a more tactical level, allowing companies to digitize everyday processes, automate what can be automated, and define roles as they relate to processes. Whereas BPM operations may cross departmental lines, workflows tend to be contained within a department. For example, a workflow may allow field technicians to enter field repair data into their mobile devices rather than documenting calls once they return to the office.
In short, workflow software enables individuals or groups to break down tasks into their component steps and automate some or all of those steps, so that the tasks are accomplished with maximum efficiency. Workflow software may include reporting so that, for instance, the IT department can run reports on how many service tickets they answered in a given month, or how many old laptops were surplussed last quarter.
Reporting is a useful feature for both workflows and BPM.
Flexible Software Can Accomplish Both
It is possible to choose one software solution that addresses an organization’s workflow software and BPM software needs. It should offer the power to automate complex, cross-departmental processes as well as simpler, everyday processes. It should allow for automatic collection of data when processes happen and have the ability to use that data to create meaningful reports with ease.
Ideally, it should be operated in the cloud so that scaling processes up or down can be done easily, and without changing the organization’s on-site IT infrastructure. And it should enable full customization of processes, so that organizations don’t have to try to hammer their “square peg” processes into “round hole” software.
PerfectForms is workflow and BPM software in one. Its intuitive user interface allows users to create the simplest to the most complex processes without programming. PerfectForms comes equipped with a rich selection of process templates for commonly used processes, but users can elect to build their own processes from scratch to suit their exact needs.
PerfectForms is available either as a cloud-hosted business solution or as an on-premises application. When run in the cloud, scaling is easy and cost-effective. And PerfectForms allows processes to collect and manipulate data, routing it to spreadsheets, databases, and other systems, creating audit trails, and facilitating powerful report generation. In other words, PerfectForms can address a company’s need for both workflow software and BPM software.
To learn how PerfectForms transforms business processes across industries and on many different scales, we invite you to read some of our many case studies. And if you have any questions, we encourage you to contact us at any time.
Process automation in business is nothing new.
Businesses already automate core processes, but what about
less-central processes that could stand to be made more efficient?
Many, if not most businesses have already applied automation to their high-stakes processes. These high-stakes processes are related to core operations (like payroll) and are often necessary for achieving regulatory compliance.
However, most businesses have plenty of other processes that consume time and are vulnerable to error introduction. These processes may be unique to a business and may involve multiple departments. If they rely on paper forms and manual processes, then they will almost certainly benefit from automation. The question is, who is going to write the code for automating those processes?
Not many businesses have IT teams equipped with talented programmers who can be pulled off their regular work at will to design and program automated processes. Hiring someone on a contract basis can be expensive. The good news is, no-code automation platforms allow non-programmers to automate processes because the platform itself generates the code as the user maps out the process. Such platforms are affordable and can run in the cloud, so adding IT infrastructure is not necessary.
Characteristics of Processes Best-Suited for No-Code Automation
The processes that are best-suited for no-code automation are ones that are done regularly and repeatedly. They may involve handling of paper and manual data entry. They’re often prone to error. These processes may cross departmental boundaries and are often unique to a business, which means that pre-packaged solutions aren’t a good fit. They may not be considered core business processes, but automating them can streamline work, reduce errors, and ultimately confer a competitive edge.
Think of the many processes that could be automated to bring new employees up to speed more quickly.
One example of such a process might be assignment of IT equipment to a new employee. It crosses department boundaries (HR, IT, and the new employee’s department), and though it isn’t a core business process, automating it can ensure that new hires are up to speed and functional in record time.
What to Expect from a No-Code Workflow Solution
No-code platforms for custom workflow automation must have several key attributes to produce the quickest ROI and ensure maximum benefit to the business:
- They must be easy to use
- They must offer easy connectivity to commonly used office systems like spreadsheets, web forms, and popular platforms like Salesforce
- They must allow proper data governance and data quality control
- They should offer templates, examples, suggestions, and easy-to-follow tutorials to make the learning curve easy to climb
Why PerfectForms Fulfills These Requirements
PerfectForms is a no-code workflow automation platform that fulfills these needs and more. Automated workflows can be created through a user-friendly interface, where users drag and drop objects onto a virtual canvas. Workflow creators can add “intelligent” features to their no-code workflows like notifications prompted by defined triggers, automatic calculations, and mandatory field-checks.
Users can create automatic alerts so that when one element of a process is completed, the next person whose input is required is automatically notified. And data can be collected for later reporting, or for auditing purposes, ensuring strong data and process control.
PerfectForms workflow software offers a level of flexibility and power that makes it suitable for a nearly unlimited range of workflow automation applications. We invite you to watch the PerfectForms demo video , and even have a look at some of our many training videos to see just how easy-to-use and powerful a no-code workflow automation solution can be.
B2B buyers typically submit large transactions involving multiple departments and personnel, and these transactions generally take a long time compared to B2C transactions.
Ordering a phone system or furniture for a business is more complicated than ordering a watch from Amazon.
The B2B seller has processes that B2C businesses don’t have to worry about. For example, the typical B2C e-commerce company doesn’t have to worry about overdue invoices, but they must be tackled methodically and quickly by B2B sellers.
Yet B2B buyers behave in many ways like B2C buyers: they do plenty of online research, and they often have their mind made up by the time they choose a provider. While buying office furniture for an entire business location will never be the same as buying a book or a garden hose from Amazon, B2B buyers want their experience to have the efficiencies they enjoy when they do personal online shopping.
To meet these needs to the extent that it’s possible to, B2B sellers need strong workflows to root out inefficiencies and keep errors to an absolute minimum. The right workflow software helps them do this.
B2B-Specific Workflows for Repeat Customers
Different B2B buyers have different processes within their own organizations for getting purchases approved, and B2B sellers can create workflows that can help. Suppose a B2B seller has a long-time repeat customer who is required to send orders through a manager for approval if the order amount exceeds a certain threshold.
The B2B seller can create a tailored automated workflow for this customer that prevents the buyer from continuing with an order without getting their own manager’s approval. For threshold-exceeding orders, the workflow could notify the B2B buyer that they need to get manager approval, after which point the workflow will pick up again immediately.
Workflows to Approve or Deny Special Requests
In another example, suppose a B2B buyer has a special request. Maybe they want a product made in a particular color to coordinate with their brand colors. An automated workflow in the seller organization could send the special request for approval, noting any factors that may be favorable (a large order from a valued repeat customer) or unfavorable (a new customer about which nothing is known) so that decision-makers can make an informed decision on whether or not to approve the special order request.
Automated workflows can ensure that special requests are evaluated and approved or denied quickly.
This way, decisions can be made quickly, so that an approved special order can get started ASAP, or a denied special order can be communicated with the buyer promptly so as not to waste their time.
Audit Trails for Fraud Prevention, Policy Compliance
The right workflow software makes it easy to generate audit trails on all workflows, and this can be invaluable for preventing or detecting internal fraud. When B2B workflows collect and store data on who accesses workflows, complete with time and date stamps, it’s harder for the unscrupulous employee to fudge sales figures or overcharge buyers.
Auditing is also great for ensuring that every employee complies with company policies and any industry or government regulations that may apply. If an irregularity should occur, audit trails make it easier to track down exactly where the irregularity entered the workflow and determine if it was just a mistake or typo, or something intentional.
Workflow software like PerfectForms empowers B2B companies to create customized automated workflows to address their specific needs, without having to hire a programmer. The user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface makes creation of online forms and workflows straightforward, so they can be tested, modified if necessary, and deployed in record time. PerfectForms invites you to watch the demo video, or better still, try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. There’s no reason to let inefficiencies and errors stand in the way of maximum B2B profits.
Every organization undergoes change, whether that’s changing physical location, changing technologies, or changing organizational roles.
Whether it’s a new location, new software, or a new organizational structure,
automated workflows can help keep changes on track.
Major organizational changes require that rank and file employees must each make their own individual changes, and this can be difficult. If individual employees don’t have the support they need to make the individual changes that contribute to organizational change, results can include wasted time and resources, resentful employees, and change that doesn’t deliver positive results.
Change management is the process of preparing for, executing, and supporting change before, during, and after it happens. It’s a great way to ensure nobody misses any key steps and that the change delivers the results you expect. Many aspects of change management can be assisted by automated workflows.
Suppose your business is moving to a new location. Careful planning is necessary to minimize upheaval. With the right workflow software, you can create workflows for tasks like selecting moving service providers, scheduling employees during the move itself, ensuring any required deposits are paid, and confirming that every employee has a workspace and necessary tools at your new location.
Such workflows can be designed to ensure no steps are missed by prohibiting completion of further steps until all prerequisite steps have been taken. They can also be used to keep the days leading up to moving day on schedule, and to send out periodic notifications keeping affected employees informed about progress.
Mapping out change with workflows requires that you understand your current status with regard to the change, and that you have a clear vision of how the situation will be different once change has been completed. Maybe a current software suite you use is clunky and inadequate to the needs of your growing business, so you plan to replace it with something newer and more advanced.
Mapping out goals for after the change is a key step in change management, and workflows can help here too. If, for example, new software will first roll out to a single department, and then expand to other departments, you can create workflows scheduling the order of departmental adoption, with checklists department heads can complete once the new software is in place.
Mapping out change to the best of your ability helps affected employees know they are supported
while keeping the steps involved in change on track for efficient completion.
Workflow management and change management go hand-in-hand. During a major change, such as a reorganization of departments or teams, automated workflows can be designed to methodically manage each affected person’s old and new status. Suppose your business now has HR and payroll together in one department, but you plan to split payroll off into its own department.
Workflows can be created to track each affected employee so that their current role and their future role are clearly defined, and so that employees left behind understand exactly how their roles will change. You can also create workflows for moving employees whose workstations will change location. This can prevent confusion and miscommunication and help the new, separate departments get up and running more quickly.
Tracking change, including successes, problems, and lessons learned can be tremendously beneficial for future change management scenarios. With the right workflow software, you can easily collect data on how long certain steps take, where problems arose, and which steps proceeded as planned. You can later use this data to create reports that help inform future change management initiatives. If your workflow software has powerful data collection and reporting capabilities, this can be done easily.
PerfectForms is workflow software that makes workflow management – including change management – straightforward and perfectly organized. No programming is required to create customized online forms and workflows, embed audit trails, and collect data for reporting. PerfectForms can be an outstanding change management partner in addition to its many other applications in streamlining and automating business processes. If you need inspiration and ideas, watch our demo video, or browse through our case studies. You’ll discover the many ways PerfectForms delivers better, faster, more accurate business processes across departments and across industries.
The best ideas and innovations for your business may come from your employees.
Employees can be outstanding sources of innovative ideas.
The people who carry out work processes every day are in the perfect position to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, and quite often they think of ways to overcome these problems.
But not all businesses are friendly to innovation, and that’s a shame. The pace of business demands innovation in terms of processes, products and services, and even business models, and companies that are willing to embrace innovation are often the ones that pull ahead competitively. Collecting innovative ideas and putting the best ones into practice are not easy tasks, but online forms and workflows can help.
Encouraging Innovative Behavior in the Workplace
It’s not enough for company leaders to say they support innovation. For real innovation to happen, employees must know how to submit their ideas for evaluation. Getting employees to think through and put forth their ideas requires a supportive corporate culture.
Not every employee is comfortable writing up a great idea and presenting it to their supervisor, so it’s important that companies facilitate anonymous ideas. Online forms for ideas can be designed to remove and store identifying information so that ideas can be evaluated anonymously, for fairness.
Most importantly, however, employees must see innovation in action and know that great ideas are supported, funded, and implemented. They’re unlikely to submit their ideas if they know the company won’t pay attention.
Online Forms for Soliciting Employee Ideas
Idea collection can begin with a simple online form for capturing ideas. Keeping it simple encourages employees to act when inspiration strikes. It should include information like the submitter’s name (which can be removed during evaluation to maintain impartiality), a title for their idea, a brief description, the primary goal of the idea, and benefits the submitter believes will result from adoption of the idea.
Companies may also create a more detailed idea submission form for clarification of promising ideas. These online forms should ask for more detail, such as:
- A hypothesis of how the idea would work in practice
- Resources and skill sets needed to test the idea
- Estimates of how long creating a prototype or pilot study would take
Detailed online forms for idea submission helps decision-makers evaluate and prioritize ideas.
Workflows for Identifying and Prioritizing the Best Ideas
Soliciting and collecting ideas is one thing but acting on them shows employees that the company takes innovation seriously. To identify and prioritize the best ideas, you will need a team with the right mix of skills to evaluate, select, and prioritize them.
These activities can be done with an online workflow that takes data from idea submission forms and allows evaluators to rate the ideas, note where further clarification is needed, and give their opinion on whether an idea merits further consideration.
The evaluation team should have both a goal and time scale in mind. For example, the goal may be to identify, fund, and test three ideas over the course of six months. Having a goal and time frame can help prevent idea development from falling by the wayside.
Workflows for Funding and Testing the Best Ideas
Suppose the idea evaluation team identifies three winning ideas. A workflow for identifying and securing funding for development of the ideas can help bring them to fruition. Such a workflow can help the evaluation team identify possible sources of funding, communicate with those in charge of fund allocation, and develop a plan for prototypes, pilot projects, or other real-world test applications.
Collection of data on funding of pilot projects and prototypes is not only valuable for the development of the ideas under consideration but provides valuable information for future innovation pushes. It also lays a foundation for determining ROI for ideas that are developed and put into practice.
Companies rarely fail to innovate due to lack of ideas, because employees often have great ideas about new processes and products. Most companies fail to innovate due to a lack of a defined process for collecting, evaluating, and funding innovations.
PerfectForms is workflow software that is powerful and flexible enough to allow creation of custom online forms and workflows for almost any process imaginable – including the process of innovation. We invite you to watch our demo video to see how you can use PerfectForms to create, streamline, and accelerate a range of processes in your business.
Real estate has always been a “high-touch” business, and success often depends on talented agents who have a personal touch in terms of getting to know clients and crafting solutions based on their needs.
Real estate agents can focus on personal service when routine processes are automated with workflow software.
Many aspects of real estate businesses simply can’t be automated. There’s no substitute for an agent getting to know a potential home buyer and selecting appropriate properties based on their needs, budget, and personality. But there are many aspects of a real estate business that are well-suited to automated workflows. And these workflows can free up time so that agents can do what they do best: interact with clients and ensure they get the services they want and need. Here are some examples.
Automated Online Rent Collection Saves Time and Hassle
People do everything online and on mobile these days, and paying bills is no exception. A secure, automated rent collection workflow can be ideal for renters who don’t have the time to pay rent in person and don’t want to bother mailing a check. Not everyone will want to use such an online system, but each person who does reduces the manual workload of the person in the office responsible for processing rent, and it adds up significantly over time.
A Workflow Can Process Maintenance Orders Efficiently
Rental properties and vacant properties for sale sometimes need maintenance work, and tracking down maintenance workers by phone can be challenging. Workflow automation can make a positive difference here, too. A maintenance worker with a mobile workflow can check the work queue from anywhere, scheduling stops that make sense depending on priority and location. Moreover, this type of workflow can automatically issue alerts for when a maintenance order is received, scheduled, and completed, so there are fewer phone calls necessary to check on work status.
Scheduling Property Showings Can Be Simplified with Automated Workflows
Scheduling property showings doesn’t have to involve endless rounds of phone tag.
Again, not every real estate client will want to use an online workflow designed to schedule property showings, but many of them will. A mobile-friendly scheduling workflow allows real estate agents to easily block out times they won’t be available and to check their showing schedule anytime, from any place. As with automated online rent collection, even if only one-third or one-half of clients use a scheduling workflow, it can save significant time that would otherwise be spent on phone calls trying to sync up schedules.
Screening Tenants and Complying with the Fair Housing Act
Real estate companies that own rental properties or that manage clients’ rental properties must screen potential tenants while ensuring they comply with the Fair Housing Act. Workflows are great for making certain that no step is neglected and that all compliance measures have been taken and are documented. If a question should ever arise about a Fair Housing Act requirement, it’s easy to look up information generated by the workflow, without having to dig through paper files.
Real estate businesses also have office processes that are similar to those in any other business, such as onboarding new employees, managing IT resources, and handling expense reimbursement. These processes are also perfect for workflow automation, and with the right workflow software, you can take care of all of them without having to switch among different software providers.
PerfectForms is workflow software that makes it easy to create customized workflows for any business process, without having to write programming code. The software comes with several templates, but the drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create online forms and workflows from scratch. If you’re interested in a powerful, flexible workflow solution, we invite you to watch the demo video or browse some of the many PerfectForms case studies to see how the right workflow solution can transform business.
It wasn’t that long ago that we all marveled at the potential of cloud applications – especially for distributed work teams.
Benefits of cloud computing are obvious. Less obvious are potential
data integrity problems that can result from scattered work teams.
Software run in the cloud freed workers from their desktop workstations and made it easier for businesses to assemble teams across wide geographic areas. Today it’s a normal part of business, which is good.
However, businesses must also maintain data integrity across scattered work teams, and they must ensure their files are located centrally and not dispersed among personal laptops, USB drives, email attachments, and so on. Automated workflows can go a long way toward helping businesses achieve data integrity, even if team members do not all work under the same roof.
User Permissions, Consistent Processes Essential
User permissions are tremendously important in maintaining data integrity. No business can operate properly if files are vulnerable to access by unauthorized users. Workflows involving documents and other data files must include automated user permissions. This ensures that each user has the viewing, editing, and sharing permissions consistent with their role and function and reduces the chances of human error.
One common problem with larger businesses is the presence of departmental data silos. Comprehensive data integrity requires that businesses maintain consistency in terms of best practices for data collection across all departments. Without standardized workflows for handling data across all departments, each department will likely develop their own systems, which may or may not work with those of other departments. And when data does have to be shared across departments, it’s harder to maintain data integrity if each one has its own standards.
An Audit Trail for Every File
Ideally, a business should have an audit trail for every file. For example, a document should be tagged with information about who created the file and when, and who has had access to it since creation. Automated workflows can be designed to note who accesses a file, whether they make changes to it, and when they do so.
Audit trails prevent the wild goose chases often involved in tracing changes or errors in improperly documented data.
An audit trail is an invaluable resource when a problem with data is discovered, because the problem can be traced back throughout the file history to help determine when the error crept in. Audit trails are also essential in businesses that perform regular internal audits, or that are subject to audits by external industry or government agencies.
Central File Storage Plus Interdepartmental Consistency Equals Data Integrity
When every team member, regardless of location, creates or uploads files to a central location, the workflows used in file creation can ensure that the content of each file adheres to company data standards. Automated workflows are ideal for this because they can prevent problems such as copy-and-paste errors from spreadsheets.
Suppose a team member collects data into a spreadsheet. When an automated workflow is designed to extract data from the spreadsheet and put it into a centrally-stored file in a pre-determined format, there’s no worry about manual data entry errors or copy-and-paste errors, and fewer data errors can creep in. Better still, when a team member collects data into an online form designed specifically for collection of that type of data, spreadsheet errors are no longer a concern.
It Takes the Right Workflow Software
Raising data integrity to its highest level requires powerful workflow software like PerfectForms. PerfectForms is online form and workflow software that makes it easy to create fully customized forms and workflows that do exactly what businesses need. Workflows can collect data, assign user permissions, create automatic alerts, and build an audit trail with every file access instance. The result is data that is consistent across departments and locations and that can be traced back to its origin at any time.
PerfectForms invites you to read through our many case studies to see how businesses and organizations across industries collect, analyze, and maintain the integrity of data while streamlining work processes and increasing efficiency. And if you have any questions, we encourage you to contact us at any time.
No company is an island, and every company depends on having customers – and on having employees who understand what customers need.
Customers, and the employees who help them are key considerations for workflow designs.
According to New Voice Media, the top reason why customer switch providers for products and services is that they feel unappreciated. And one-third of Americans say they consider switching providers after a single incident of poor customer service. Moreover, U.S. companies lose an estimated $62 billion per year due to bad customer service.
But what about the employees who spend every day ensuring customers have the products and services they need? Employees must also feel appreciated and listened to, and they must believe they have the agency necessary to solve customer problems. Otherwise, they’ll have one eye on their work and the other on the exit door.
A successful company’s workflows must be designed with both the needs of customers and the needs of employees in mind. It’s a careful balance, but the right workflow tools make it possible.
Understanding the Customer Journey
The customer journey is the series of decisions that leads to the choice of a provider for products or services. It’s not the same for everyone, but there are commonalities, and those commonalities are used by smart companies to develop and understand key customer personas. When companies understand the motivations, triggers, emotions, and challenges of customer personas, they can design workflows that empower employees to ensure the best possible customer experience.
Creating Workflows Based on Customer Touchpoints
Customers need personalization, knowledgeable customer service agents, and reasonable, timely solutions to their problems. Designing customer service workflows based on customer touchpoints should be driven by understanding of customer personas as well as hard data. The hard data can be collected in many ways. One popular data collection method is simply asking customers to check a box indicating their satisfaction level after a customer service interaction and tracking the data in aggregate, over time.
Workflows can also be used to match the customer with the right helper. Automated workflows that act based on keywords can help ensure that someone with a purely transaction-related issue speaks with someone trained in handling such issues, and that someone with a technical issue speaks with an agent skilled in talking customers through technical difficulties.
Empowering Employees, Reducing Distractions
Employees with the right tools, in the right environment, are more willing to give their best efforts.
Employees are human too, and workflows must also be designed with their well-being in mind. Employees can’t be expected to deliver their best work when they’re corralled in an environment that is dirty or noisy, when their equipment breaks down, or when they feel unappreciated and without agency.
Automated workflows must account for employee feedback as well. The employees who use automated workflows every day are the ones who know where bottlenecks occur, and often they have suggestions for addressing problems. Therefore, it’s important for employees to know that their feedback is valuable, and for supervisors and managers to take it seriously.
Workflow Training Essential
The best workflow in the world is useless if nobody knows how to use it. Taking the extra time up front to train employees in how to use automated workflows (whether for customer service or anything else) is an investment that pays off. Carefully-crafted training sessions help ensure that employees hit the ground running when it’s time for new workflows to go live. Reassuring them that their feedback from using the workflows matters can keep discouragement to a minimum.
Without the right workflow software, designing workflows with customers and employees in mind is difficult or impossible. PerfectForms, however, offers the flexibility, power, and user-friendliness companies need to design customized automated workflows, test them, and take them live in record time.
PerfectForms has an intuitive interface that means no programming is required to create sleek, perfectly customized workflows with features like automated alerts, audit trails, and customized workflow permissions. It is the right solution for the company committed to creating workflows that ensure outstanding customer service while making the most of employee skills and talents. If you want to learn more, we invite you to watch our demo video, and if you have questions, feel free to contact us at any time. We would be delighted to hear from you.
IT workers deal with both predictable and unpredictable situations, and their work is essential to smooth business operation.
Automating everyday IT processes ensures IT teams can allocate their efforts optimally.
While some IT processes cannot be taken over by automated workflows, many aspects of day-to-day IT operation can be automated. Doing this not only helps ensure efficiency and transparency, but also helps free up IT workers to focus on critical issues that can have a serious effect on business.
Here are four IT processes that can benefit from automation, and why your choice of workflow software can make all the difference in the success of workflow automation.
1. IT Procurement
IT procurement involves several steps including vendor selection, negotiation of contracts, replacement of old hardware, and vendor / license management. Automated workflows give IT workers (and any necessary approving authorities) a step-by-step process to follow to ensure no critical steps are missed.
An automated procurement workflow can also streamline procurement by automatically forwarding documents and orders to the next step in the process. With the right workflow software, it’s easy to design the procurement process to create an audit trail that can help if a procurement instance has to be revisited later.
2. Basic Help Desk Functions
Automated workflows can be designed to cover several basic help desk functions, freeing up IT staff to tackle bigger issues. For example, a self-serve workflow for recovering a forgotten password can save significant IT staff time in the long term.
Automated workflows can be created for functions such as requesting use of a laptop for travel, downloading pre-approved apps, basic troubleshooting, or reporting problems like network outages. These workflows can also assign help requests to appropriate personnel and keep end-users informed of the status of their request, so IT workers aren’t overwhelmed by phone calls asking for updates.
3. Assigning Equipment to New Hires
A simple workflow can ensure new hires have the IT equipment they need from day one.
New employee onboarding in general can benefit from automated workflows. Actual pen-on-paper processes can be considerably streamlined with good onboarding, and it’s easy to incorporate a process for assigning a new hire the IT equipment they will need to do their job. In fact, IT equipment requests can be completed even before a new hire reports for their first day. Certain job titles may be associated with pre-defined lists of hardware and software to speed things up further.
At the other end of things, offboarding employees who are leaving can benefit from workflows to recover their IT equipment and account for it. This equipment can be examined and cleared in readiness for a new employee, helping minimize unnecessary purchases of new hardware.
4. Status Communications
The more IT processes involve automated workflows, the easier it is to incorporate automated status communications that prevent “phone tag” while keeping necessary people informed. If, for example, someone initiates a procurement workflow, status can be marked upon completion of various steps in the process. Then, the person who initiated the workflow can access the workflow and assess the status without sending someone to track it down in person.
A process user could, for example, log in and determine that the purchase had been approved, and that vendor selection had been completed. Being able to check on workflow status makes planning easier and also prevents endless rounds of phone tag.
Even the smallest businesses benefit from automated IT workflows. In many organizations, IT workers are pulled this way and that, and it’s not always easy for them to chase down the status of projects when someone asks. Automated workflows not only keep processes on track, they document progress and increase transparency for everyone.
PerfectForms is workflow software designed with both power and flexibility in mind. Users in a wide range of industries are able to create customized workflows for nearly unlimited business processes, including IT processes like the ones mentioned above. Better still, you can try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. If you have any questions about using PerfectForms for your IT or other business processes, please feel free to contact us at any time.
Smaller and newer businesses may not have the resources necessary to contract out market research, or to use the more expensive market research tools designed for big enterprises.
Regardless of your budget or company size, you benefit from regular market research.
However, they can use online forms and automated workflows to organize and manage their in-house market research efforts and gain valuable insights.
Ongoing market research is essential in a constantly evolving marketplace. When you conduct regular market research and analyze the data you collect, you can:
- Create more compelling marketing collateral
- Discover targeted niches interested in your products and services
- Develop new products and services based on customer “pain points”
- Recognize developing industry trends so you can act promptly
Here are just a few of the ways you can use online forms and automated workflows to improve your market research efforts.
Organize and Understand Data from Surveys and Landing Pages
Does your form software support web forms? It should, because web forms allow you to collect valuable information from the very people who are interested in the products and services your business offers. Not only can you create landing page forms that improve conversion rates, you can create on-site surveys and then funnel the data from them to databases and spreadsheets for analysis.
Your form software should be easy enough to use that you can do A/B testing of landing page forms to find out exactly what combination of elements results in the highest conversion rates. If your form software is difficult to use or has a steep learning curve, you may not bother with A/B testing, and could end up missing out on key insights.
Create Forms for Combing Through Secondary Market Research Sites
Many companies do market research by combing existing web resources like Facebook groups, Quora, reddit, and even Amazon book reviews. Forms and workflows can organize these efforts and help ensure that nothing of value is missed. You could, for example, create a form that your market researcher can use to record key URLs, assign a topic to the research, record keywords, and jot down sentiments expressed in user posts.
Plugging text from online reviews into a word cloud generator
can give clues as to what’s important to your customer base.
Your researcher could run the text from a relevant Facebook group through a word cloud program and identify words that show up prominently. These words could be entered into a market research form for follow-up, to help understand customer problems and sentiment more clearly.
Integrate with Databases, Spreadsheets, and Salesforce
Online forms and automated workflows that integrate form data with other office systems like databases, spreadsheets, and CRM systems (like Salesforce) help ensure that you gain a comprehensive, 360-degree view of your customer personas. Forms themselves can offer insights, but when you multiply those insights many-fold and feed critical form data (such as form users’ age, sex, or geographic area) into a spreadsheet, suddenly you can process that data to learn far more.
Does your form software integrate easily with commonly used office tools like spreadsheets and databases? If not, you could be unnecessarily limiting the insights your forms could be delivering, and inadvertently hindering your market research.
Online forms and workflows are flexible, multi-purpose business tools. Your form and workflow software should make these tools as easy as possible to use, whether for market research or any other business process. PerfectForms is online form and workflow software that offers an intuitive, user-friendly interface, so you can climb the learning curve in no time.
It also supports web forms and integrates with office software like the spreadsheets and databases you use every day, and even Salesforce CRM. Give your team the tools they need to get the most from market research. Not only will the market research be more efficient and thorough, you can develop insights that you might never have discovered otherwise. If you would like to know more, PerfectForms invites you to watch our demo video.