Overview of How Automated Workflows Work

Man on the phone in front of a desktop computer.

Workflows (sometimes called processes) occur in every workplace, whether we label them or not.

Think about average tasks you do at work. Usually, something triggers a task or series of tasks. Perhaps a form is received, or an email arrives, and that prompts you to schedule something on a calendar, search out a product or part, or create a purchase order.

With the completion of each step, another step is triggered, until the entire process is completed. Completion of a process may happen with the publication of a report, a record of shipping confirmation, or the submission of an order for supplies.

Automated workflows are designed to make the steps of any work process happen in the proper order, with a minimum of slow-downs or bottlenecks. With the right workflow software, you can automate workflows and improve efficiency, raise productivity, and reduce error rates.

Combining Forms, Notifications, and Automatic Routing

Every automated workflow is unique, but many of them combine online forms, notifications, and automatic routing of information. As an example, back in the “old days,” receiving reimbursement for business travel expenses involved saving paper receipts, filling out paper forms, physically submitting those forms for processing, having someone compare expenses against the receipts, calculate a reimbursement amount, and then cut a physical check, which would be mailed or picked up for deposit.

An automated workflow, by contrast, would use electronic receipts, an online form, automatic routing to the person responsible for processing claims, confirmation of expenses, and then automatic deposit of the reimbursed amount into the claimant’s bank account. It’s easy to see how it’s faster, more accurate, and far less hassle for everyone involved.

Audit Trails and Other Valuable Data Collection

Something else facilitated by automated workflows is collection of data that can be used in the event of an audit. In fact, automated workflows can help prevent audits in the first place. Suppose you have a workflow to monitor when software licenses are up for renewal. The workflow could be designed to notify the person responsible for the software a certain number of days or weeks prior to license expiry, so they can ensure renewal takes place on time.

Woman working on her desktop computer.

Automated workflows can instantly notify workflow participants when their input is needed.

For companies that are subject to audit, workflow software can collect information on when data was entered into a workflow and by whom, they can automatically notify certain personnel whenever a workflow is accessed, and can flag workflow conditions that need to be explored further (such as a purchase order that is significantly larger than usual).

The Importance of Reporting with Automated Workflows

With the right workflow software, reporting is easy. Suppose you want a report about last quarter’s sales. Your workflow software should allow you to create a report showing how many of each item was sold, along with other helpful information, like which zip codes ordered the most products, a breakdown of products sold each week, and how last quarter’s sales compare to the same quarter a year ago.

Reporting in automated workflows helps teams identify problems early, so they can be addressed before becoming major problems. Developing an automated workflow with audit and reporting capabilities is almost like having a full-time employee devoted to ensuring the process goes correctly every time and keeping up with valuable statistics that can help you going forward.

PerfectForms is workflow software designed so that workflow users can create workflows that do exactly what they need – without programming! The user-friendly interface allows online form and workflow creators to drag and drop elements into place and test them easily. It even interfaces easily with web forms, Google Sheets, and Salesforce, so you can make the most of your other business systems.

Interested in learning more? We encourage you to watch the demo video and see how PerfectForms puts the power of automated workflows in your hands and propels your business forward.

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