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.
Vacation requests based on manual paper processes or an ad hoc email request system can be fraught with potential for problems. The office manager or HR person responsible for processing leave requests can end up spending massive amounts of time ensuring that staffing won’t suffer during planned absences. And when multiple people request vacation days that overlap, employee frustration can mount also.
Scheduling conflicts inevitably occur with vacation requests, and handling vacation scheduling can be complex and demanding if you want to ensure business continuity while employees are absent. But there are a number of things you can do to take the “Ugh” out of time-off requests. Here are 5 tips for making vacation scheduling more effective and less disruptive.
1. Define and Effectively Communicate Your Vacation Policy
You should discuss your vacation policy during the hiring and on-boarding process and ensure that all employees have written copies of the policy. If there are specific periods during which vacations will be restricted or not allowed (such as in the lead-up to Christmas), ensure these periods are highlighted in the policy. Explain the procedure for determining which request receives priority should vacation requests coincide.
2. Set a Deadline for Vacation Requests
In your vacation policy, specify how far in advance employees must request vacation days and enforce it consistently. This will help ensure that your office manager or HR person has sufficient time to evaluate how the absence might affect production or delivery schedules. It also allows plenty of time for steps to be taken to ensure minimal disruption during employee absences.
3. Create an Online Vacation Request Form for Employees
Using a clear, user friendly online time off request form for requesting vacation days is far preferable to using paper forms, which take longer, risk being lost, and needlessly prolong the request / approval cycle. The time off request form should include spaces for relevant employee information, number of days off requested, and specific dates. Completed forms can be automatically submitted to the employee’s direct supervisor, and then to the office manager or whoever is responsible for scheduling.
With a capable online form creation system, users can be automatically notified by email at each step of the approval process so that there are no surprises and all relevant people can be kept informed at all times.
4. Enter Leave Data Into an Internally Shared Time-Off Calendar
Many companies use shared time-off calendars into which all vacation information is entered. Vacation requests entered into the calendar can be color coded based on where in the approval process requests are at any given time. With a time-off calendar available to all pertinent staff members, employees know what to expect when they request time off, and managers know ahead of time of the potential for scheduling conflicts so they can be avoided.
5. Prepare for Scheduled Absences
If co-workers will be covering the tasks of vacationing staff members, give them sufficient notice so they can prepare. Additionally, ask those taking time off to provide relevant co-workers with information on works in progress, specific responsibilities, key contacts, and how to access required files and other information to complete daily tasks. If possible, it’s best to distribute the absent person’s duties among multiple co-workers so that one person isn’t faced with having to do the work of two.
Scheduling time off is a challenge, and PerfectForms can help. PerfectForms is an automation and electronic forms solution that anyone can use to create custom electronic survey forms with a convenient drag-and-drop interface. PerfectForms lets you create your own custom forms from scratch or use a number of customizable templates, with no programming required. PerfectForms offers you the ideal tool for creating a vacation request process that will help prevent staff shortages and reduce scheduling conflicts. To learn more, watch our product demo, and see for yourself how easy it is to create custom electronic forms and integrate them into your forms workflows.
Few factors impact your performance as a company more than the quality of your employees. Hiring the right workers isn’t an easy task in the modern world—a generic resume can only tell you so much about the person writing it, and two individuals with identical qualifications may be very different employees. Figuring out which applicants will make the best members of the workforce requires companies to collect the right data during the hiring process, and in order to do this, firms must develop the right forms. Fortunately, putting together an employee application form that gathers the data you need in the format you need it takes very little time with the proper preparation and software.
Before you lay your hands on any form-builder or business management software, you need to have a firmly established idea of what you want from potential employees. What skills matter to you? What factors will make for uniquely qualified hires at your company? How you phrase your questions and what details you look for can greatly affect the information you collect.
Of course, the more opportunities you give applicants to fill in boxes on their own with nonstandard entries, the more difficult the application becomes to parse with management software and implement into general workflow solutions.
With that in mind, here are the questions you should ask as you make your form:
- What do you need to know about the hire?
- What do you want to know about the hire?
- How quickly do you need to be able to go through applications?
Honestly, this is the hardest part. Creating your actual online application will be the easy bit!
Making Your Form
So, you’re sitting down to start your form. Begin with a strong piece of form creation software, ideally something that integrates with other business management software. Then, you’ll want to start with a template—all these programs will have this option available—and work from there.
The basics will already be in place, but it’s up to you to decide the details. With the questions above in mind, you can add and adjust questions as needed. Modern workflow software makes it easy to change and add blank spaces, checklists, multiple-choice questions, and any other data entry styling you need. Base the entry style on how you value the information.
Don’t get distracted by questions of font, fancy headers, and backgrounds. If someone has your online application open in front of them, he or she doesn’t care about the window dressing.
Needs vs. Wants
Needs: The easier it is to sort out unqualified applicants and find the ones with your basic mandatory skills, the better. That means implementing a few questions using formats that you can sort by—multiple choice, checklists, limited-length forms. These are answer types that a machine or a person in a hurry can quickly sort through.
Wants: Your wants offer more flexibility. After you sort by your needs, you can take the time to read a paragraph of free writing on what an applicant expects to offer the team culture, what unique skills he or she would bring to the table, his or her favorite Ninja Turtle, whatever. Make wants free-form and use them to get a read on the potential hires.
For example, say that you need an employee with four years of experience. With a dropdown box “Years of Experience,” you can easily remove people with too few years from the pile. In no time, you’ll have the perfect form in front of you, ready for applicants to submit–in fact, it probably took you longer to read this article than it will to create your online employee application form.