No-code application development tools enable non-technical employees in your lines of business (LoBs) to quickly and easily create forms, workflows and applications. By augmenting traditional development approaches, no-code app builders are empowering organizations to rapidly and cost-effectively achieve digital transformation.
In fact, “increased demand for … digital transformation has sparked the emergence of citizen developers outside of IT,” Gartner reports. Today, 41% of non-IT employees customize or build data or technology solutions, the analyst firm says.
But your citizen developers probably aren’t experienced in planning and executing application development projects. To benefit the most from no-code, follow these best-practice steps:
1. Understand business goals
Start by identifying the business benefit you want to achieve from no-code. That could be allowing internal or external customers to complete an online form. It might be streamlining a particular workflow within a team or department. Or it could be enabling a process that extends across multiple business functions. You can leverage no-code to optimize a broad range of processes, from creating new customer accounts, to handling budget requests and approvals, to integrating remote sites.
But to achieve success, you first need to be clear about your objectives. That includes establishing simple metrics, like number of workflow steps automated, speed of data inputs, or number of customers served.
2. Determine application requirements
Once you know your goals, you can identify the functionality the no-code application must provide. For instance, if you’re building a workflow, do all steps remain within a single team, or do they extend across multiple departments? If the project involves a broad process flow, you might need input from all stakeholders who will use it.
Similarly, if you’re creating an online form, should data inputs be automatically entered into corporate systems? If so, you’ll need the necessary integrations. An effective no-code tool will enable integration through APIs or web services, all without coding.
3. Select the right no-code solution
No-code app builders come in a lot of flavors. Some are complex platforms that provide “low-code” application development that requires coding knowledge. Others are only designed to create mobile apps for use on iOS or Android.
A no-code tool that’s useful for LoB employees should effectively enable web forms, web apps, mobile web apps, workflow apps, or business process management. Look for a no-code provider that can support all these use cases with either a single solution or a portfolio of targeted, easy-to-use tools.
4. Assign roles and responsibilities
No-code applications can be created by a single employee or a few employees, but if an application will be used day-to-day by an entire department, you need to be sure the citizen developers understand the requirements to deliver applications that meet the department’s needs and objectives.
In that case, consider getting multiple people involved in the application development process. Some stakeholders might have input into desired features. Others might create the actual application. Still others might try out the application and provide feedback before it’s deployed. Just be sure all participants understand how they contribute to the project’s success.
5. Manage the project
No-code tools are so easy to use, many users might approach application creation in an ad-hoc manner. But to get the results you want you’ll benefit from a more structured mindset.
Make a list of the features you identified in Step 2 and check them off as you build them into the application. Set interim milestones and final deadlines to keep the project on target. Monitor stakeholder involvement to be sure everyone’s doing their part. Your no-code project management doesn’t have to be complicated, but you need enough oversight to track your progress and keep the project moving forward.
6. Measure the results
An effective no-code app builder should give you visibility into the process you’ve created. This is where the metrics you created in Step 1 will show their value. If you’re achieving your performance goals, you know your deliberate approach to no-code development is paying off. If you’re falling short of targets, it’s time to identify ways to improve.
Go back over the application. Are form fields unclear, making it hard for users to complete the form? Are workflow outputs not giving you the data you need? Are the wrong people getting alerts for workflow reviews and approvals? If people aren’t using the application, is that because it doesn’t integrate well with other processes? Finding the root cause will point you to the solution.
7. Continually improve
The good news is that with a no-code tool, you can quickly and easily make improvements to your application. That’s valuable even if your application is performing at a high level today.
After all, business requirements evolve over time. Customers have changing demands. A new team might need to be incorporated into an existing workflow. You might replace a core system, requiring new application integrations. No-code gives you the capabilities to make these adjustments quickly and painlessly.
No-code/low-code (NCLC) will produce 70% of new applications by 2025, according to Gartner. The emergence of NCLC is nothing short of a “revolution,” Accenture says, one that will drive an “explosion of user-generated innovation.” By following these steps for planning and executing your no-code project, you can be sure your organization is benefiting from employee-driven, no-code-enabled innovation and digital transformation.
Intelligent process automation (IPA), robotic process automation (RPA), processes enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) – organizations are investing significant sums in different types of automation. In fact, global spending on IPA, RPA and AI business processes will grow 68%, from an estimated $20.3 billion in 2021 to an expected $34.2 billion in 2023.
It’s easy to see why. Automation can transform company operations to run faster, more reliably and with fewer errors. It can also improve customer experiences while increasing employee engagement – freeing workers from repetitive tasks to focus on activities that add value.
Like processes, workflows are also increasingly automated. Workflows are sequential steps followed to complete a specific task. They might be used by a small team in the finance department. They may involve a function like HR that touches every employee. Or they could extend across multiple departments, such as IT and procurement. They’re how your employees get their jobs done – and how your organization runs.
But what exactly are workflow apps? And is there a way to quickly, easily and cost-effectively create customized workflow apps to make your organization run better?
Application Automation for Every Workflow
Workflow apps are simply software that automates, or partially automates, the steps to complete a task. Typically, workflow apps route information along a defined path, from data entry, to data transfer, to reviews and approvals.
Workflows apps automatically guide each step along the way, triggering actions and issuing alerts to the people who need them. They can also measure workflow performance so you can monitor how well your workflows are functioning.
Virtually every department in your organization can benefit from a workflow app: finance, HR, sales, marketing, IT, operations, customer support and more. For example:
- Finance can use workflow apps to handle payroll, manage order-to-cash processes, approve budgets, process invoices and more.
- HR can use them for onboarding employees, enabling workers to request time off, approving travel expenses and overseeing performance reviews.
- Sales and marketing can automate workflows for routing leads, nurturing leads, approving quotes, processing orders, and similar customer-focused activities.
- IT can leverage workflow apps to provision hardware and software, manage help desk incidents, enable employee self-services and more.
Without automation, these workflows can result in endless emails, manual revisions, miscommunication and slow company performance. They also can lead to mistakes, omissions and frustrations for both employees and customers.
Workflow apps can render these tasks speedy, on-target and predictable. They can help make sure staff get paid on time, IT problems get resolved quickly, customers get the prompt attention they deserve, and overall satisfaction is higher for employees and customers alike.
Building Workflow Apps with No-Code Workflow Tools
In the past, organizations had to shell out hefty fees for workflow automation software which often wasn’t tailored to meet their unique needs. Or they needed to hire specialized IT consultants to create custom workflow apps – a time-consuming and costly endeavor.
Today, though, a no-code workflow builder can empower non-technical employees, or citizen developers, to create their own workflow applications. Now the people who know your workflow processes best – your employees who work in finance, HR, sales and so on – can digitize and automate their workflows. The result is fast, cost-effective, and continual business improvement.
In fact, 55% of C-level executives see no-code/low-code tools as creators of new process flows, according to Accenture. And organizations say the top benefits of no-code/low-code solutions include automation of manual processes, easier workflows, and higher productivity, ZDNet reports.
A no-code tool can empower your citizen developers to digitize a portion of a workflow for an incremental improvement or build workflow apps for end-to-end workflows for even greater automation. The resulting workflows can enable data capture, notifications, escalations, reporting and more. They can even integrate with existing applications or databases to extend workflows and ensure both efficiency and compliance.
A drag-and-drop visual workflow designer lets users simply select design objects for the workflow app and drag them to a canvas to create the user interface, define workflow stages and configure business rules. Behind the scenes, the tool automatically creates code to digitize and automate the workflow.
Ultimately, workflow apps created with a no-code tool empower your organization to:
- Reduce time for workflow development and deployment
- Minimize dependence on technical resources
- Realize substantial cost savings
- Improve communication and compliance
- Gain better visibility into workflows and operations
- Empower employees to do their jobs more efficiently and serve customers more effectively
Workflow automation is accelerating operations and giving organizations new competitive advantages. And workflow apps created with a no-code workflow builder are enabling enterprises to achieve those goals faster and more cost-effectively than they thought possible.
Content marketing has a lot of moving parts. You have to define your goals, audit your current content to understand what’s performing well, generate new ideas, assign content creation, edit the content, post it, and finally monitor its performance.
Automated workflows help companies manage these many tasks while minimizing confusion and keeping the content marketing team all on the same page and up to date. Let’s talk about how workflows can be developed for content marketing tasks and how the right workflow software is essential.
What is an automated workflow?
Workflow automation is a series of automated steps that have been put together in a way that makes an overall process easier.
These workflows can be used for all sorts of business processes, but of course, we’re going to discuss how you can use one to make your company’s content marketing strategy that much easier.
How can automated workflows improve content marketing?
Content marketing isn’t typically a strategy that people realize can be improved with automation. While it’s mostly keyword, research, content planning, content creation, and publishing, there are still processes that can be improved with an automated content marketing workflow.
What does your content marketing process look like right now?
Many companies have several cooks in the kitchen when it comes to content creation. The SEO specialist does keyword research to determine which keywords are most likely to rank. Then it’s assigned to the writer, who creates an optimized article around the keyword.
After the writer is finished, it hits the editor, who makes sure the keyword is used enough times, there are enough inbound and outbound links, and more. The graphic designer then puts together the graphics for the publication and promotion of the article.
And finally, it’s published on the blog and sent through the promotion strategy.
Making sure you have a set process for content marketing is step one in your workflow management. Each person involved needs to know what their role is and when in line it happens.
You can easily create a workflow that assigns the task to each person in the pipeline as each portion of the project is completed. This helps to ensure that no pieces in the process are overlooked, and the article is created seamlessly.
There are also ways to create workflows for your SEO analysis, writing, editing, and promotion strategies. Put together checklists to adhere to so no one forgets any piece of the puzzle. Make sure you take note of the best platforms to share your new article on so that it gets the most traction possible.
Putting together workflows for your content marketing is the best way to make sure that nothing gets lost in the shuffle, especially if there are multiple people on the team working on these articles.
How can I create a workflow for my content marketing strategy?
Putting together workflow applications is our specialty! Take a look at our workflow software to find everything you need to put together a more organized and automated content marketing process.
Watch the demo now to find out if our software will work for you and the way you manage your content marketing. The great thing is that it can be adjusted to fit nearly any process, so we highly recommend you give it a try.
What does the expense reimbursement process look like within your company? Are you relying on manual expense processing and losing time, money, and productivity?
Historically, expense management systems have required employees to have their receipt, fill out an expense report for each individual purchase, submit the report(s), then wait (sometimes weeks) to receive their reimbursement.
It’s a tedious process that most employees complain about on end. But expense management doesn’t have to be that way.
Implementing automated expense management can help to speed up the expense reimbursement process tenfold, making your employees happier and increasing cost savings and efficiency for your company.
Expense report automation is user-friendly, prevents policy violations, and makes navigating reimbursement a breeze for everyone involved.
Here are 4 ways your company or small business can use workflow software in their expense reimbursement process.
1. Ditch the paper forms.
Stop making your employees spend hours upon hours filling out paper forms for company expenses, just so they can be rightfully reimbursed. Instead, move to an online expense claim form that your employees can easily fill out and submit digitally, right from their desk or where they’re at on the go.
Online expense submission and processing eliminates the hassle, giving valuable time back to your employees. Not only that, but it makes it easier for your finance team to track business travel expenses, per diems, corporate credit card charges, and other expense data all in one place. You may also find that there is less room for error in interpreting expense policy when manual processes are modernized.
2. Include receipt upload.
Reimbursement is typically contingent on submitting a receipt for business expenses, and an employee is simply out of luck if they happen to lose it. Because this can be frustrating for employees, why not make it easier, and allow them to snap a photo of their receipt as soon as they get it.
Then they can easily upload their receipt into their digital form in real-time and be on their merry way. Paper receipts and manual data entry are becoming outdated, leaving more room for errors and less for productivity. A better solution is to streamline the expense reporting process from the second a receipt lands in hand. Management platforms with the added functionality of mobile receipt uploads are the perfect expense management solution.
3. Approve more quickly.
When your company receives expense report submissions digitally, you’re able to go through and approve them more efficiently. You can set your forms up to automatically send notifications and email submissions to the people who need to approve these expenses so they may be input into a spreadsheet.
Having expense data in a spreadsheet can help you manage your cash flow effectively. It allows members of your finance team to go in each day, approve or deny new employee expenses, input their name so the company knows who managed it, and quickly send an approval or denial response to the employee. The right accounting software can eliminate time-consuming tasks to ensure your team is focusing on what’s important.
4. Reimburse more quickly.
Once an approval has gone through, an automation can be set up that sends it to the accounting department, and the money can be put back into employees’ wallets sooner than before.
Manual reimbursement processes can take weeks for an employee to be reimbursed. When it comes to large work expenses, this can be tough on the employee when they have to wait long periods of time to see that money go back into their pocket.
Alternatively, you can use expense reporting software to put together an automated workflow that allows employees to see their approved reimbursements more quickly. Set up direct deposit, consider using company credit cards, and more.
Don’t let your employees wait weeks on end before they see their reimbursement. Putting together workflows that allow them to more quickly and easily submit expense reports will help to streamline the entire process and make it move more smoothly for your employees and your company.
How can I speed up reimbursement with automated workflows and expense management software?
Creating a new form and putting together new automated processes and workflows can help you track expenses, ensure policy compliance, and improve the experience of your employees, accounting team, and CFO. We’re all for it.
In fact, with our workflow software, you’ll be able to easily revamp your entire expense reimbursement process into something that works better for both you and your employees. Watch the demo to learn more about how our software works so you can hit the ground running when you sign up.
The online form that is perfect for your needs depends heavily on context.
Knowing your form users is the first step to designing the
perfect online form.
Additionally, what is perfect today may be less so tomorrow due to the rapid pace of innovation and technology advancement.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get it right! With the right form software and knowledge about attitudes toward forms, you can create the best online forms that perfectly meet your needs while delighting form users.
And it is with your users that you should start when designing online forms. After all, if users don’t want to complete your form, it benefits no one. Make sure the first step in any form initiative is learning about who will be using it. Once you know that, you can make the most of the following qualities that make online forms outstanding.
A Perfect Form Looks Great on Any Device
These days, you can’t assume that form users are in a desktop environment with a full keyboard. Customer-facing forms often reach people who are using mobile devices. And an increasing number of employee-facing forms are used by workers with mobile devices. For example, field technicians need to be able to see forms clearly on the mobile devices they use in the field.
Great-looking forms are uncluttered and use readable fonts. Form field labels are readable and unambiguous, so users know which information goes in which fields. Branding touches, like logos and colors, may be evident, but they shouldn’t overwhelm what appears on the screen.
It Is Also Brief
When you create online forms, it’s natural to want to collect as much information as possible. But form users don’t see it that way. They see a form and subconsciously judge whether filling it out is worth their time. Therefore, it’s essential to keep online forms as brief as possible while collecting the key information you require. A landing page form, request form, or even an application form will turn users off it looks like it will take too long to complete.
Nobody wants to input their life story just to access
a complimentary white paper.
In today’s world, you can’t take for granted that people will use your form with the benefit of a big screen and a full-sized keyboard. Taking a mobile-friendly workflow approach is best because it also helps you ensure your forms aren’t overly long.
Mobile-friendliness is also about more than just how a form looks on a small screen. It is about minimizing the amount of typing required of users. You can reduce typing with radio buttons, checklists, and drop-down menus. And you can also store previously entered information so that filling out a form a second or subsequent time auto-fills blanks that the user has completed before.
It Acknowledges Form Submission
We have all had the experience of completing and submitting an online form only to have nothing happen or be taken to a new screen with no indication of what happened to our form. People need closure. They need to know that once they click on “Submit,” their completed form has gone where it’s supposed to go.
A simple pop-up “thank you” notification or automatic navigation to a “thank you” screen reassures users that their efforts in completing an online form were not wasted and that the form has been sent on its way successfully.
The “perfect” online form is highly context-dependent. Designing it requires that you understand the people who will be using it. Are they busy moms carrying a toddler and a phone simultaneously? Are they field technicians submitting important jobsite information? Are they shoppers relaxing at the end of the day?
Know your form users, and you can design online forms that suit both their needs and yours. PerfectForms is online form software that makes it easy to create fully customized online forms with no programming required. Take a look at the PerfectForms demo video for inspiration, and if you have questions, please contact us at any time.
Innovation has gone from being a “nice extra” for businesses to being essential for success.
Innovation is for every company, not just tech companies and startups.
Competition is fierce, and businesses increasingly set themselves apart through innovation of products, processes, and business models. Rather than pursuing one big idea that will change everything, however, businesses must incorporate innovation into their everyday operations and their corporate culture.
Moreover, businesses must have a process for gathering, evaluating, prioritizing and developing ideas, so that the real winners make it through to prototyping, pilot testing, and ideally to general use. Online forms and automated innovation workflows can make such a process reality.
Forms and Workflows for Gathering Ideas
Does anyone still think that a locked suggestion box with a slot on the top is a good way of inspiring great ideas? To really pursue innovation, companies need a way to collect ideas as a general practice, and in the service of defined innovation initiatives. Online forms are ideal for this.
Suppose you want to kick off an innovation initiative to develop a new product to add to your product line. The starting point, or the “wide part of the funnel” in this initiative can be an online form where people can describe their product ideas. Completed online forms can be automatically sent to designated decision-makers whose role is to determine which ideas are worth pursuing.
Workflows Can Help Evaluate and Prioritize Ideas
If your innovation initiative has sparked several good ideas, the next step is to evaluate them more thoroughly. Generally, it’s best to have a small team go through ideas individually, flagging their favorites, and putting them into priority order. With an automated workflow that each team member can access, this can be done efficiently.
Automated workflows make the process of evaluating and prioritizing
innovative ideas fast and efficient.
After each team member has evaluated and ranked ideas, the team can meet to discuss their choices and come to a consensus about which two or three ideas are best for further development. With an automated workflow, this doesn’t have to involve pen and paper or endless phone calls and emails.
Surveys, Workflows Help Select Innovations to Pursue
Perhaps, once your evaluation team has chosen a “Top 3” list of innovations to pursue, you want to put it to a vote among all employees. If your online form software allows for creation of surveys, this can be done with outstanding efficiency and effectiveness. The completed survey forms can send data to a spreadsheet or database so that votes are easy to tabulate without any manual data entry. Choosing the winning idea is fast and fair.
The right workflow software is the key to being able to implement an innovation program that works. Not only can you create a general innovation workflow to replace the old-fashioned suggestion boxes, you can create specialized workflows to go along with more targeted innovation initiatives.
PerfectForms is workflow software that makes it easy to create online forms, surveys, and automated workflows that eliminate a lot of the drudgery involved in sifting through a mountain of ideas. Workflows for evaluation can be limited to authorized users, while innovation suggestion forms and surveys can be open to all participants. Gathering data and making sense of it is easy with PerfectForms, due to its powerful reporting capabilities.
You can test drive PerfectForms by signing up for a trial and see for yourself how easy it is to create fully customized online forms and automated workflows. Innovation is fast becoming mandatory for business success and having the right tools to manage innovation is essential. PerfectForms has the power, flexibility, and scalability you need. If you have any questions about PerfectForms, we encourage you to contact us at any time.
The reputation of your business is an extremely valuable business asset.
Online reviews and ratings have made business reputation
more important than ever.
While it isn’t tangible, or something you could liquidate to raise cash, nonetheless, reputation is essential to sustained success today. In fact, reputation is a key differentiator in a world where consumers have more choices than ever. Reputation also affects the quality of employees you’re able to recruit and retain.
Developing a strong business reputation and maintaining it requires sustained effort. Some aspects of reputation management for businesses can’t be automated, but you might be surprised at how many aspects can be. For this you’ll need the right attitude, commitment, and tools. Here are three critical elements of business reputation that you can manage better with the right workflow management.
1. Customer Service
People want a consistent, positive experience when they interact with your customer service team. Developing customer service workflows for your customer service team can help tremendously. When your team knows exactly what to do in every type of customer service interaction, you can be confident of consistent, effective help for customers.
Automated workflows for customer service tasks can help keep interactions on track and productive. A customer service rep who knows exactly which workflow (or branch of a workflow) to access in a given interaction is able to help people more quickly, diffusing any hard feelings and solving problems. This requires not only that you have comprehensive automated workflows, but that you take time to train reps on how to use them.
2. Accuracy of Online Business Listings
You might be surprised to learn how important the accuracy of your online business listings are. Many businesses take full advantage of Google business listings because they help people discover their business and learn key facts like operating hours, phone numbers, and even parking situations – all at a glance. A complete, accurate, up-to-date business listing helps your website perform better when people use search engines.
Keeping business listings accurate at all times helps your
website appear in more search results.
But inaccurate business listings can harm your search engine success. That’s because Google regularly checks that the information on your business listings and your website match perfectly. When they don’t, they may penalize your business in searches. An automated workflow that kicks off the same day of every month, for example, can step the user through the process of comparing business listings and website listings to ensure they are as accurate, complete, and up to date as possible.
3. Distribution and Analysis of Customer Surveys
One classic method of improving customer service is through customer surveys. Asking customers for feedback, analyzing that feedback to produce insights, and then addressing those insights helps you meet customer needs better. Automated workflows, complete with beautifully designed, mobile friendly survey forms reach consumers where they’re at and help you gather, analyze, and act on the data you collect.
The right workflow software will help you not only create the survey forms that encourage customer interaction, but also helps you collect, analyze, and report on the survey data. As a result, you can respond to customer sentiment much faster than you ever could through surveys managed without automated workflows.
Great workflow management requires great workflow software, whether you’re striving to improve customer service or automating various back office processes. PerfectForms offers you the level of flexibility, scalability, and power you need to automate business processes that improve your business reputation. You can create customer service workflows, monitor and manage online business listings and website information, and create surveys that help you understand your customers better.
We encourage you to watch the PerfectForms demo video so you can see PerfectForms in action and discover just how easy it is to use – whether for customer service processes or other business processes. And should you have any questions, we invite you to contact us at any time.
Automated workflows and new employee recruiting go together naturally.
Whether you use job fairs or headhunters, the right workflows
accelerate the hiring process.
The hiring process has a lot of moving parts, but strong workflow management can make sure all the parts work as they should while reducing errors and making the process as efficient as it can be. Other benefits of using automated workflows in the hiring process include reduction of paperwork, reduction of status phone calls and emails, time savings, and transparency.
Here are several types of recruiting workflows that can make the hiring process far less painful.
Workflows for Candidate Sourcing
Candidate sourcing begins with creation of an accurate job description. Different companies source job candidates differently, and different types of roles within the same company may be sourced in different ways.
However a company decides to source candidates for a particular position, the right workflow software makes it easy to create a standardized workflow to ensure that ads are placed in all relevant publications, or that all relevant recruiting agencies and websites know about your open position. Such a workflow can be great for reducing duplication of effort.
Workflows for Shortlisting Candidates
How the hiring team creates a shortlist of candidates will also be particular to the company and to the role. Creating a standardized, automated workflow that allows hiring team members to score candidates helps ensure every team member’s voice is heard, and that no candidate is overlooked. When a workflow is used for scoring and shortlisting candidates, it’s easier to ensure that personal bias doesn’t creep into the hiring process.
Workflows for Coordinating Interviews
Coordinating interviews for candidates on your shortlist is a task that is well-suited for automated workflows. Whether the interviews will be in person or via video conference, having a workflow for scheduling interviews, knowing which questions to ask, scoring interviews, and moving on to the next candidate are helpful.
Coordinating job interviews helps ensure the right people are
there to meet and talk to job candidates.
With the right workflow, any hiring team member at any time can check on whether a candidate interview has been scheduled, can prepare for interviews, and can share feedback on interviews. It’s a great way to ensure that all hiring team members stay on the same page at all times.
Workflows for Making and Closing Offers
Likewise, a workflow for creating job offer letters, calculating compensation offered, and tracking the status of offers made can save valuable time and duplication of effort. If an offer is turned down, this can be recorded in the workflow for later reference. Once an offer has been made and accepted, the workflow can prompt further actions, such as scheduling the new hire’s first day of work.
Workflows for New Employee Onboarding
New employee onboarding is an essential part of the hiring process. How onboarding is handled has a major effect on how likely the new employee is to stay with the company. Automated workflows ensure that no steps are left out, and they can even lighten the new employee’s burden by making online forms easy to fill out with autocomplete, and auto-population of form fields.
Whether or not you create automated workflows for recruiting and hiring, you should create a workflow for onboarding because of the many benefits such a workflow offers to your new employee and your HR team.
Creating customized hiring and recruiting workflows requires great HR workflow software. PerfectForms fits the bill. With PerfectForms, no coding is required, and you can create your own forms and workflows from scratch or use the included templates. PerfectForms also integrates easily with spreadsheets and databases, so data can be collected and stored easily. And it offers powerful reporting features so you can make sense of your data and gather valuable insights.
Many people believe that workflow automation is something that’s only available to big enterprises. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Workflow automation may disproportionately benefit smaller businesses.
Also true is that smaller businesses can benefit disproportionately from workflow automation. They can do things more efficiently and reduce error rates while maintaining the agility possessed by smaller enterprises.
Today’s no-code workflow software is accessible to businesses of all sizes and all types. It allows companies to automate processes without hiring a programmer, and quickly start enjoying the benefits of workflow automation. Workflow automation for small businesses is the answer to several common business questions, including these four.
1. How Can We Reduce Error Rates?
If a number needs to end up in a spreadsheet or a database, how does it get there? Does someone copy it from a catalog, or have a worker who knows the number write it down? If so, it’s easy to see how errors can enter the process.
Workflow automation uses workflow software to prevent these problems. Numbers entered into a workflow can be checked for accuracy before being sent to a spreadsheet, database, or other processing system. The same is true for numbers scanned using a barcode or QR scanner.
Standard business forms that are online rather than on paper do away with errors introduced due to bad penmanship, lost, or damaged forms. Workflow automation is perhaps the best single solution for reducing error rates.
2. How Can We Overcome the Limitations of Spreadsheets?
Spreadsheets are wonderful, flexible tools. But when they are shared, how do you account for changes to them? It’s not easy to ensure that everyone is working from the same version of a spreadsheet at all times, but workflow automation can help.
Shared spreadsheets can cause problems if not managed properly.
Rather than entering data into a spreadsheet, users can enter the data into an automated workflow, which updates the spreadsheet while recording every input. That way it’s easy to learn if numbers have been changed, and if so, by whom. Workflow automation makes spreadsheets far more useful and accurate.
3. How Can We Get Invoices Out the Door Sooner?
Invoices that are late being sent out affect cash flow, so it’s crucial that companies send them out promptly. An automated workflow for creation and distribution of invoices can ensure that invoices go out on time, every time.
Multiple users can enter invoice data into a workflow, and the workflow uses the data to automatically create and distribute invoices. Invoices that cannot be sent out electronically can be sent to a printer automatically, and the person(s) responsible for mailing them can be notified automatically when they are ready to go. The result is a faster invoicing process, better accounts receivable processes, and better cash flow.
4. How Can We Get Status Updates to Managers More Easily?
Project managers naturally want to know the status of the projects they oversee. But phoning or emailing project workers to find out status can waste a lot of time. Project management workflows eliminate that wasted time.
With a project management workflow, project workers can work within the workflow, and provisions can be made to automatically update project managers when milestones have been reached, or when other specific tasks have been accomplished. Automated workflows also allow authorized workflow users to check on project status at any time, with no phone calls or emails necessary.
Workflow automation isn’t just for big business. And today’s no-code workflow software means that workflow users can design their own workflows to meet their needs exactly. PerfectForms is workflow software that requires no programming. It allows users to drag and drop form and workflow elements into place, and easily test and modify workflows before they’re deployed.
Workflows are standardized series of steps designed to accomplish a specified process or task.
Automated workflows may have their roots in sketches or diagrams made by process users.
All steps in a workflow may run consecutively, or some series of steps may run in parallel for more complex processes. Automated workflows take as much of the manual processing out of tasks as possible. For example, a series of paper forms may be replaced by a linked series of online forms.
Automation can significantly boost the efficiency of a process while reducing error rates, so businesses often turn to automated workflows to sharpen their competitive edge and increase productivity. But rare is the situation where you can just create an automated workflow and immediately have everyone start using it.
In almost every situation, you have to thoroughly test automated workflows before “going live” with them. Otherwise, you risk the chaos of unforeseen problems and the time investment in fixing the problems and fixing the workflow. Here’s how to ensure your automated workflow is ready to be deployed.
Testing by the Workflow Creator or Workflow Team
With the right workflow software, programming is not required. This means that the people who actually use the workflow can have more input into workflow design. A single individual may be able to create a simple workflow. More complex ones, however, typically require a small team to develop and automate the workflow.
The workflow creator or team should test the automated workflow under a range of conditions – including erroneous conditions – to see what happens. What happens when someone enters text into a form field that requires a number? What happens if someone accidentally enters a negative number when a positive number is required? In a sense, the workflow team should try to stress, and even “break” the workflow under controlled conditions to see what happens and how they can prevent such issues.
Testing by Selected End-Users
Having selected end-users try out the workflow before general deployment
is a good idea, so necessary changes can be made without major disruption.
Once a workflow has been thoroughly tested by the workflow creator or workflow team, it’s still a good idea to limit its use at first. Suppose you create a document management workflow. After initial testing, perhaps you should limit its use to two or three of your top report writers who have been educated about the workflow and trained to use it.
These people are using the workflow “cold,” and they may be able to see faults that the initial development team missed. They can report back to the development team when they find problems, and work with them to get them solved.
Consider a Small Pilot Program
Before deploying an automated workflow to an entire team or department, it may be worthwhile to designate a pilot project using the workflow to ensure it does what it’s supposed to and that it really does have the potential to boost efficiency and productivity while reducing error rates.
The team working with a particular client, for example, could brief the client on the new workflow and get their consent to be part of the pilot project. Provisions can be made to go back to the old way of doing things if major problems occur. If this pilot project works as expected, then the workflow can be deployed to the rest of the department or team, with all affected personnel being trained on how to use the workflow.
The key to easy workflow development and testing is outstanding workflow software. PerfectForms is no-code workflow software that allows users to drag and drop workflow elements into place. If the workflow testing process reveals that changes need to be made, PerfectForms allows for easy modifications until the workflow is ready for wider deployment.
Businesses like yours use PerfectForms for an impressive array of workflow automation tasks. We encourage you to browse through some of our many PerfectForms case studies to see how businesses have automated processes, raised productivity, and increased efficiency in major ways. And if you have any questions, we invite you to contact us at any time.