Small-batch manufacturing has become important in a business world where agility is key.
It’s not easy for startups to find the right manufacturing partner, and small-batch production offers a way for new and small companies to test products without a lot of waste. And with the rise of the web, finding small-batch manufacturers is easier.
Making small-batch manufacturing work requires efficiency, and automated workflows are outstanding at powering efficient operations. Here are some of the ways automated manufacturing and workflows go together to power new and innovative business operations.
Traditional textile manufacturing is designed for large scale production, which can be too risk- and resource-heavy for smaller companies. Textile micro-factories allow manufacturing on demand at varying volumes, reducing risks and waste.
The micro-factory production paradigm is typically “Sell, Produce, Deliver,” rather than “Produce, Sell, Deliver.” It is mostly driven by online sales, where clients select and buy textiles before they are produced. Automated workflows take care of tasks like image processing, digital printing, and cutting, and dispatch, allowing micro-factories to work far more quickly than traditional textile manufacturers. Without automated workflows, however, it would be much harder to make this type of operation profitable.
3D Printing Operations
3D printing can also be run as an on-demand operation, but automated workflows are needed to make it work efficiently and profitably. Workflows for 3D printing include both internal and customer-facing aspects. Customer-facing workflows allow those who need articles 3D-printed to transfer their build data to the manufacturer, while internal workflows allow engineers and designers to specify parameters like material and manufacturing methods.
Workflows can then be forwarded to those who validate the designs, prepare them, and send them to the 3D printing equipment. Without automated workflows, 3D printing in small batches would be difficult to make profitable.
Electronic Batch Records in Paperless Manufacturing Environments
Electronic batch methods make sense for both large and small manufacturers, because replacing paper-based workflows with electronic workflows reduces errors and accelerates processes. As a result, time-to-market is reduced, which leads to greater profitability.
Another important advantage of automated workflows in manufacturing environments is that they make regulatory compliance far easier. Not only can automated workflows ensure that all regulation-required steps are taken, they can make automated annotations each time this occurs, so if the company is audited, proving compliance is much easier.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that automated workflows are only for large enterprises. Cloud-based workflow software is affordable even for the smallest start-ups. And don’t think that workflow software requires the help of a programmer. Solutions are available that allow the actual workflow users to create custom workflows that suit their needs precisely.
PerfectForms is workflow software that requires no programming and that scales as you need it to. With PerfectForms, you can create custom forms and workflows with no programming whatsoever. Simply drag and drop form or workflow elements into place using the intuitive PerfectForms interface.
You can create workflows for anything from onboarding new employees to managing IT service requests to preparing manufacturing batches for production. The flexibility of PerfectForms means that as soon as you create an automated workflow for one process, you’re sure to envision new workflows for other processes, which you can then create easily. We invite you to watch the PerfectForms demo video and see for yourself how automated workflows can benefit your business, raising efficiency and sharpening your competitive edge.
The healthcare industry is under constant pressure to hold down costs, while providing personalized care and maintaining strict confidentiality.
The development of electronic health records (EHRs) has helped healthcare organizations move away from paper-based records and their inherent problems, but EHRs are not the only ways healthcare providers make sure patients receive the care they need.
For many typical medical offices, attracting new patients and retaining existing patients are two tasks that are necessary to maintain profitability and keep the doors open, and automated workflows can help with these tasks. For researchers, workflows can help identify patients who are good candidates for clinical trials more quickly, so work can proceed at a more efficient pace.
Attracting Patients to Traditional Healthcare Service Providers
The American healthcare system demands that providers run their offices and clinics like a business. This means doctors must make it easy for prospective patients to choose their facilities instead of competitors’, and one way to do that is to offer online forms and online-initiated workflows that are efficient and easy to use.
For example, online forms for new patient registration and for making or canceling appointments are convenient for patients, while also being more efficient for the non-medical office staff. Many healthcare providers are going an extra step and making these services mobile-friendly, because they understand that their patient population spends more time on mobile devices than in traditional desktop / laptop environments.
Bringing Appropriate Patients to Clinical Trials
One study from 2017 developed workflows for data collection, linkage, and tracking, for potential participants in clinical trials. Records of clinical data were “deidentified” for confidentiality, then evaluated for eligibility in clinical trials. For patients who were good candidates as determined by the automated workflow, follow-up was automatically initiated. Researchers concluded that the workflow had great potential to improve the efficiency of recruiting patients for clinical research trials.
Another study concluded that the use of a Clinical Trial Portal, where people who believe they may be good candidates for clinical trials can fill out online forms to further explore the possibility, is an important addition to current methods of recruiting patients for clinical trials, such as physician referrals. While the online portals alone aren’t sufficient for populating clinical trials (due to high numbers of people who don’t meet clinical trial criteria), they allow clinical trial planners to potentially draw on a larger proportion of the population.
Workflows Designed for Efficiency, Confidentiality
The healthcare industry is bound by strict laws concerning patient confidentiality, with harsh penalties when those laws are broken. So it’s especially important for automated workflows in healthcare-related businesses to be designed to guard confidentiality.
Non-healthcare businesses that are committed to patient confidentiality (whether or not they’re required to be, by law) can learn from healthcare workflows. The key is using workflow software that allows security steps to be built right in. Such steps don’t allow the workflow to proceed until all security steps are satisfied.
Maybe you don’t work in the healthcare industry, but developing customer-facing online forms and workflows is a smart idea regardless. Not only can you gather information more quickly and accurately, you can route that data appropriately and automatically, whether it’s a person who wants to schedule a haircut, or someone who wants to buy semiconductor silicon wafers.
PerfectForms is online form and workflow software with the flexibility and power to help people in all industries create the electronic forms and workflows they need to operate at peak efficiency. No programming is required due to PerfectForms’ intuitive drag-and-drop interface, and PerfectForms is easy to connect with other office systems like spreadsheets, databases, and Salesforce CRM.
We encourage you to look at some of the many PerfectForms case studies to see exactly how organizations across many industries are putting online forms and automated workflows to work, making business processes more efficient and less error-prone, helping avoid duplication of effort, saving money, and boosting profits.
Demand for workflow software is growing for several reasons, including the rise in technological advancements, growth in the overall business market, and rising realization that workflow software makes sense for just about any type of business.
Automated workflows allow businesses to improve consistency of the products and services they provide. They add predictability to business processes, which is helpful for training new people and cross-training existing personnel.
Cloud computing has put workflow software within reach of many more businesses of all sizes, allowing small businesses to compete more effectively with their larger rivals, and this too has been a driver for wider adoption of these software solutions. Let’s explore some of the reasons for today’s booming workflow software market.
Automated Workflows Help Guide Technological Development
Sometimes when a business adopts a new piece of technology, they don’t yet know how it will affect their day-to-day operations. All new technology comes with a learning curve, and getting up to speed with it and integrating it into operations require adjustment.
Workflows with the flexibility to incorporate new technology into various steps help ensure the transition to new technologies and new ways of doing things is smooth. And the right workflow software helps adapt the workflows to meet new realities.
As just one example, suppose data in one step of a process was once entered manually, but is now scanned in with a barcode scanner. It speeds things up in one part of the workflow, but can it create bottlenecks further down? Workflow software can help you figure that out, and if so, it can help you modify the workflow to accommodate the changes.
Automated Workflows Help Establish Chain of Responsibility
One of the most powerful things about automated workflows is that they’re great at adding transparency, showing who did what, and at what time. Workflows can allow a user to determine who approved or rejected a purchase request, and it can show exactly whose input is awaited so the workflow can proceed forward. Establishing a chain of responsibility can be much harder with old-fashioned manual workflows.
These established chains of responsibility can be extremely useful to businesses that are subject to audit, because the workflow essentially establishes an audit trail automatically.
Workflows Are Great for Automatically Measuring Performance Indicators
Finally, if your workflow software has powerful built-in reporting capabilities, workflows can gather critical performance data that can then be collected into reports that provide valuable insights. A workflow could, for example, gather order data from your e-commerce operation that can be broken down by geographic region or other factors. It could show how many products coming off an assembly line were rejected, or how much more quickly employees traveling on business were reimbursed for expenses compared to when it all had to be done on paper.
There is hardly any limit to what data your automated workflows can collect, and with reporting capabilities, you can use this data in ways that help you gain key insights into how to do things better.
PerfectForms is workflow software with a friendly, drag-and-drop interface, allowing users to create customized online forms and workflows quickly and easily. Because there is no programming required, creating, testing, and deploying workflows is fast, as is modifying them when conditions change.
And PerfectForms has built-in reporting capability that allows you to take the data collected by your forms and workflows and put it to work educating you and letting you know where your business excels and where opportunity for improvement exists. If you’re curious about the positive effects workflow software has in businesses across many industries, we invite you to read through some of PerfectForms’ many case studies. Discover for yourself why workflow software is in such high demand in today’s business world.
Business process management, or BPM, involves improving a business process by analyzing it, modeling how it might work under various conditions, and ultimately making it better from end to end. BPM may or may not involve automation or making a process “digital.”
Digital process automation, or DPA, is about taking business process management to another level, where technology can accelerate processes, and innovation can take hold. BPM and DPA are not the same thing, and they’re not at odds with each other. In fact, the two concepts are complementary.
Workflow software is a key foundational element for both BPM and DPA, so it’s essential to choose your workflow software with plenty of care and consideration. Here is what you should expect of your workflow software so your BPM and DPA initiatives fulfill their potential.
Workflow Software Should Allow Process Transparency for Users
Neither BPM nor DPA means much unless processes are transparent. People are naturally curious, and they want to know that what they do plays a role in something larger. The right workflow software allows authorized workflow users to assess the status of a process at any point in it. Learning whether a purchase order has been approved, or whether a product has been pulled from the warehouse is simple and straightforward if your workflow software is up to expectations. The reassurance from being able to find out the status of a process at any time can go a long way toward building trust among teams and ensuring workflows proceed as expected.
Automating Manual Tasks Takes Efficiency to a Higher Level
Digital process automation doesn’t necessarily mean implementing highly futuristic or experimental technology. It can mean something as simple as having people fill in online forms rather than completing paper forms with a pen. There are many levels of automation, and when automation is implemented strategically, it can cause efficiency to take a quantum leap.
Both BPM and DPA are oriented toward improving efficiency, rooting out waste, and putting technology to use to ensure consistency and high quality, and the automation possible with the right workflow software is where you’ll see significant efficiency gains.
Collaboration and Auditing Should Be Part of any DPA Initiative
Collaboration can be built into workflows, as long as your software has the flexibility to allow it. Much has been made of the importance of collaboration, and transparent workflows help with collaboration by facilitating the sharing of knowledge.
Additionally, DPA should be auditable so that key performance indicators can be monitored, and so that further improvements can be made. Auditing isn’t necessarily something done by governing bodies or industry officials. Internal auditing can be extremely valuable for gaining insights and planning future business process management initiatives.
Business process management (BPM) and digital process automation (DPA) are interrelated concepts that build upon each other. Having powerful workflow software makes both easier to implement. PerfectForms is workflow software that requires no programming, can be made to collect data and create an audit trail automatically, and can be implemented so that authorized user can monitor the workflows to know where a process stands at a given time.
With PerfectForms, your teams can automate manual processes and manage them easily. Because workflows are created through a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, they can also be modified and tested easily, so when you deploy a new workflow, you can be confident it performs as expected.
Did you know you can try PerfectForms for free? Sign up for a trial and take it for a test drive. You’ll quickly see how the right workflow software can power your digital transformation and keep your company at the leading edge of efficiency, all while gathering the critical performance data you need to stay ahead.
Inspections, estimates, and repairs affect just about every business in some way.
Some businesses perform these functions as core business services, while others may take care of their self-generated inspection, estimate, and repair functions in-house. And just about every business has experienced having a piece of equipment inspected and had an estimate made for having it repaired.
For businesses that repair things as their core business process, having workflows for inspection, estimate creation, and repair work is essential to consistent quality. For businesses that handle some of their own inspections and repairs in-house, having these workflows makes sense too.
And even for businesses that don’t repair things, it can make a lot of sense to have inspection workflows. After all, keeping the equipment that powers your business working properly is essential, and inspections can reveal problems that are easier and less expensive to address when found early.
Businesses Where Repair Is a Core Function
Some businesses repair things: cars, electronics, even shoes. Carrying out a thorough repair that satisfies the customer begins with inspecting the item in need of repair. An inspection workflow can step technicians through all the necessary inspection points, to create a comprehensive picture of what is needed.
After inspection, a workflow for developing a repair estimate serves a similar function. With a defined workflow, technicians are far less likely to overlook something and have to go back to the customer later to recommend further work.
Repair workflows make sense too. Although most repairs will be unique, they may all have commonalities. For example, once every repair is finished, testing the repaired product should be part of the workflow before turning the item back over to the customer.
Businesses That Handle Repairs In-House
Many businesses that don’t repair things as a core business process nonetheless do in-house repairs. If a business owns the building where it is located, it may have a building manager who is in charge of ensuring that things like doorknobs and locks work, that damaged floors are repaired to prevent tripping hazards, and that burned-out light bulbs are replaced in a timely manner.
Many businesses also have their own IT departments that are responsible for keeping everyone’s workstations operable. Regular inspections of IT equipment may be part of this process. When a piece of IT equipment malfunctions, automated workflows for inspection and estimates can help IT workers quickly determine whether the equipment should be repaired, or whether it is more cost-effective to replace it. If the repair itself is handled in-house, an automated repair workflow can ensure consistency and thoroughness.
Inspection Workflows Make Sense for Most Businesses
Every business should perform regular inspections of business equipment, particularly if they own the equipment outright. Automated workflows for inspections of equipment like copiers, printers, laminators, and other items can sometimes identify problems early on, when they’re simple and inexpensive to fix. Records of these inspections can also prove useful to outside repair technicians when they come to fix equipment that can’t be repaired in-house. Ultimately, automated inspection workflows, performed regularly, help minimize business disruptions due to equipment problems.
How does a business create such workflows? It’s easy with PerfectForms. PerfectForms is workflow software that allows non-programmers to create customized workflows for a nearly endless array of business functions. Automated workflows can be created for everything from onboarding new employees to approving employee vacation time to inspecting and repairing IT equipment.
The PerfectForms user interface allows users to drag and drop workflow elements into place, which makes it easy for workflow end-users themselves to input their suggestions into how workflows can be most helpful. We encourage you to watch the demo video and see for yourself how easy it is to use PerfectForms to create the custom workflows you need, across all departments in your business.
Business and forms go together and have done so for a century or more.
It’s easy for businesses, particularly those that have been around for a long time, to stick with tried and true ways of doing things. This may unfortunately mean using paper forms even after significantly better alternatives exist.
If your business or organization is still using paper forms, and you’ve considered switching to online forms, what are you waiting for? The benefits of online forms are there for the taking, right now. Here’s why there’s simply no contest between paper forms and online forms.
Faster Data Gathering with Fewer Errors
Even people who have not been trained in typing often find it faster to complete online forms than they do paper forms. Filling out a paper form neatly and legibly can be a big challenge to some people, especially if the form fields in which they are supposed to enter information are small. People with average typing skills can complete electronic forms quickly, and if they make a mistake, they don’t have to cross it out, because they can go back and fix it before submitting the form.
Online forms can also be designed to ensure a minimum of errors and consistency of format. For example, if someone attempts to enter text into a field that requires a number, online forms can be triggered to pop up a flag indicating that the data should be re-entered in the proper format. And auto-populate features can ensure that when someone enters information needed elsewhere, or on other, related forms, it is entered automatically as soon as the user enters the information the first time.
Archival Doesn’t Require Filing Cabinets
Some forms need to be archived, and while filing cabinets can be models of organization, they’re still harder to navigate than online archives. It’s a lot faster to bring up an archived form by entering a keyword or key piece of form information than it is to go through physical cabinets full of paper forms – which may or may not have been filed in proper order.
Getting rid of paper archives can be tremendously freeing for businesses and other organizations. It frees up space for other purposes, and makes file retrieval instantaneous, so the pace of business can proceed faster.
Online Forms Can Be the Foundation for Automated Workflows
One of the best things about online forms (assuming you use capable online form software) is that they can create the foundation for sleek, automated workflows. Instead of someone returning from a business trip and submitting a paper form with a bunch of receipts stapled to it, they can submit an electronic form with either electronic receipts or phone photos of actual receipts. Once submitted, the form can be automatically routed to the exact personnel responsible for reviewing the claim and approving reimbursement. It’s faster, and it doesn’t result in piles of paper that have to be filed or disposed of.
Add Mobile-Friendliness for Even Greater Benefits
Here’s a novel use for mobile-friendly electronic forms. Researchers in the African nation of Sudan replaced paper-based questionnaires used with people living with chronic obstructive lung disease with mobile-friendly surveys. Participants used the forms to report health issues like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
The researchers found that error rates were drastically reduced when compared to error rates for paper forms, and that the mobile forms were far likelier to be complete and consistent. In other words, the mobile-friendly electronic forms allowed health officials to collect better data more comprehensively concerning serious public health issues.
If you’re still using paper forms, there is no time like the present to make the transition to online forms, and PerfectForms makes it easy. There is no programming, so you can use an intuitive drag-and-drop interface to create customized online forms that meet your needs exactly. And PerfectForms allows you to easily share data from forms with spreadsheets and other office software, eliminating duplication of effort when data must be shared. We invite you to watch our demo video, because we’re sure you’ll be inspired to move beyond paper forms once and for all, with a solution that is straightforward, powerful, and customizable for any business.
Purchasing refurbished gear makes sense both for individuals and for many businesses.
Many small businesses save money by purchasing refurbished technology, from IT hardware to medical imaging equipment. But today’s B2B and B2C consumers are demanding and won’t put up with refurbished equipment that isn’t completely up to scratch.
Today, there are businesses that are dedicated to refurbishing products and selling them to businesses and consumers, and to succeed, they must have rock-solid refurbishing processes that are absolutely consistent and produce products that satisfy. Consistent, high-quality refurbishment requires repeatable, documented processes that can be done efficiently, and automated workflows make it happen. Here are some of the advantages automated workflows offer for refurbishing businesses.
Marginal Gains Add Up Over a Year
In the world of automotive refurbishing, dealers make an astounding $50 for every dollar spent to automate reconditioning operations. The ROI comes from lower costs, gross improvement, and increased inventory turn rates. When workflow software is used to create workflows that structure, measure, and monitor every step in the reconditioning process, reconditioning is faster, smoother, less error-prone, and more profitable.
Simply using automated workflows to shave small amounts of time off the reconditioning cycle can add up significantly over the course of a year. In the used automotive industry with an average sale gross of $1,500 per car on a 100-car volume lot can gain two extra inventory turns per year through reconditioning automation, adding an additional $300,000 gross over a year’s time!
No Missed Steps, Fewer Errors
Some companies help combat the problem of electronic waste by refurbishing electronics and selling them to consumers. Many of the “raw materials” come from corporations that donate their used tech equipment rather than disposing of it. With IT equipment, it’s absolutely essential that all old data be wiped from storage devices, and that every piece of refurbished equipment undergo rigorous testing to ensure that it works properly before it is sold.
Automated workflows are perfect for this type of application. A prescribed series of steps ensures that no steps are missed, because workflows can be designed to halt when someone tries to advance before completing a prerequisite step. Moreover, certain steps can be designed to require approval before moving forward, further ensuring consistency and quality in the finished product.
Process Documentation Can Prove Invaluable
Whether a business reconditions cars, IT equipment, or x-ray machines, automated workflows do something that is difficult to do otherwise, and that is create complete documentation of every reconditioning project. With automated workflows, completed steps can be time-stamped, and various workflow steps can be traced back to individual, authorized workflow users. That way, if there is a problem, documentation exists that can help trace the problem to its origin, so it can be corrected.
Moreover, business and individual consumers can be confident that their reconditioned equipment has undergone a thorough, closely-monitored process, because they can be presented with a workflow report indicating every step that was taken during refurbishing.
Refurbished and reconditioned gear is an increasingly strong business sector, with individuals and businesses looking to save money and working toward more sustainable resources. The companies that are able to profit from selling refurbished equipment are the ones with strong workflows that ensure consistent quality.
PerfectForms is workflow software that can be used in any industry to create customized, automated workflows without the need for programming. Workflow steps can include extras like automatic notifications of relevant parties, immediate forwarding of completed steps to approving authorities for oversight, and automated collection of time-stamp, user, and other information to create reports and audit trails with a minimum of effort.
PerfectForms invites you to read through some of our many case studies to see how flexible and powerful this workflow software is. For businesses of all sizes, and in all industries, PerfectForms is the ideal partner to ensuring workflows are perfectly customized, thorough, and documented at every step.
Think about how much data the typical business collects (or has the potential to collect) every day.
Sometimes, data that may seem perfectly mundane may have atypical uses that can take your business operations to the next level. For example, suppose you have a social media advertising team responsible for placing ads on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Those platforms have powerful targeting algorithms to help brands place their ads in front of people who are most likely to be interested in the product or service on offer.
What if data collected by other departments or teams could help your social media advertising team target ads even more accurately?
Identify Where Collected Data Could Be Valuable
In the above example, suppose your social media ad team is careful to target ad placement based on an “ideal” customer persona based upon their age range, gender, educational level, marital status, and household income. That’s great, but you may be able to target the ideal customer persona even more accurately.
Your order processing team receives extensive data that could be helpful. Maybe they run a workflow report on the data they collect and discover that a handful of zip codes in the upper Midwest are responsible for a disproportionate number of orders. That could prompt your marketing team to find out why your products are so popular there, and could help your social media ad team develop ads that target this particular geographic region, further improving your marketing ROI.
Use Workflows to Route Shared Data Automatically
Sharing data does not have to be an overly complex or time-intensive endeavor, if you use the right workflow software. Keeping with our social media advertising example, suppose that the workflow for the order processing team were to be modified to automatically send data for zip code and order amount to a spreadsheet that would be accessible to the marketing research team. The right workflow software allows you to do this seamlessly and instantly, opening up the data to further examination and possibly valuable insights. Maybe your products appeal to a second ideal customer persona you never considered. Sharing data would help you realize this.
Reporting Helps All Teams Identify Data They Can Use
Workflow software with built-in reporting features can also extract more value from the data your company collects. For example, monthly or quarterly sales reports by dollar amount or volume of products shipped can help people identify trends. Maybe you sell more product in August, and then someone makes the connection that it’s popular as a back-to-school item. Suddenly you have insights that increase the precision of your marketing efforts.
Reports can also inspire ideas. Maybe someone didn’t realize you could create a report showing which customers have the highest average dollar amount per order. That information may be useful when it comes to making special offers, cross-selling, or upselling. It’s important for people in all departments to understand the capabilities of your workflow software’s reporting capabilities.
PerfectForms is workflow software that allows you to create perfectly customized workflows and online forms for your business, nonprofit, or government organization. It offers simple, straightforward integrations with Salesforce and Google Sheets, and can be synced with directory services and other systems, with no programming required. PerfectForms isn’t just about sleek online forms and automated workflows. It’s also about collecting and sharing data, creating reports, and generally helping your business operate at optimum efficiency, with minimum waste.
We invite you to read up on some of our case studies to see the many ways PerfectForms improves business processes and collects data. There’s no reason to let all that data your company collects just sit there, when it could be working for you, and PerfectForms gives you the tools you need to extract more value from your data.
Process mapping is essentially creation of a flowchart.
You don’t necessarily have to know what the different shapes of various flowchart elements mean to create a process map, but it can be helpful. Think of a very simple process you use at work, such as the process of admitting a visitor to the workplace. Steps may include:
- Confirming the time and date of the visit with the visitor
- Creating a temporary badge or nametag showing they’re authorized to be on the premises
- Emailing the visitor a parking pass they can print out or use on their phone
- Notifying the staff member when their visitor arrives
- Signing the visitor in
- Handing them their temporary credentials
- Collecting the credentials when they leave
- Signing them out
That may sound like a lot of steps for a simple process, but spelling it all out helps ensure that no detail is neglected. This type of process mapping can be used for any work process, from simple to complex.
Mapped Processes as Blueprints for Automated Workflows
When you map a process, breaking it down into a series of discrete, self-contained steps, you create not only a flowchart, but also a blueprint for automating the process. In the example above, suppose you created a workflow that automatically notified both you and the staff member receiving the visitor as soon as that person’s parking pass was scanned. Taking it a step further, suppose that when the visitor scanned their parking pass, it automatically triggered printing of their temporary visitor credentials. Automating these steps ensures consistency, and prevents skipped steps, while saving everyone time.
Map a Process, Then Test It Thoroughly
When you map a process, it’s crucial that you test it thoroughly before deploying it to process end-users. Process mapping itself can help you spot potential problems, but other problems may not become evident until the process has been tested thoroughly. For example, automating a commonly used process may save time at the front end of the process, but it can result in an unintended bottleneck later in the process.
Suppose you automate the process for submitting each department’s end-of-quarter or end-of-year reports. That could unintentionally result in a major bottleneck when the person responsible for final editing and proofreading receives a flood of reports to edit all at once. Or it could result in back-ups in the printing department. Planning for these types of situations helps you get the most from your automated workflows without overloading a single person at some point in the process.
How a Utility Solutions Provider Used Workflow Software to Map Processes
Trilliant, a company that provides network solutions and software for monitoring utilities like gas and electric providers, used PerfectForms workflow software for process mapping, because they found it both affordable and user-friendly. Using PerfectForms to map processes and identify daily work connection points, Trilliant was able to address major inefficiencies and improve their entire internal management process, saving them significant time and resources.
Trilliant recognized that outstanding workflow software could not only help them streamline and automate workflows, but also map processes so that inefficiencies and “holes” in processes could be more easily identified and addressed.
Workflow software like PerfectForms goes together perfectly with process mapping, because the workflow creation process is so similar to process mapping. With its user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, PerfectForms lets you design workflows in a clear, visual manner, and test them thoroughly, making changes and tweaks as necessary until you have the exact, customized workflow that your company needs.
With its power and flexibility, coupled with its friendly user interface that requires no programming, PerfectForms empowers companies across all industries to streamline and automate processes while reducing error rates. We encourage you to browse through some of our many case studies and see how PerfectForms offers the ideal platform for process mapping and the tools you need to turn those process maps into sleek, automated workflows.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is no longer a rarity. In fact, if you look at even earlier technologies, such as the earliest computer programs, artificial intelligence was present there in simpler forms, such as “if this, then that” statements.
The first two industrial revolutions were powered by steam and then electricity. The third was based on automation. In each of these revolutions, workers became more efficient. As a fourth industrial revolution, AI will free workers from many intellectual tasks founded on gathering, analyzing, and making decisions based on large amounts of data. Potential consequences are only starting to be recognized.
The combination of AI and workflows promises to be powerful. The combination allows organizations in every industry to take their operations to a higher level of functioning with regard to efficiency, productivity, and effective decision-making.
Workflows Already Use Some Forms of Artificial Intelligence
If you use automated workflows, then you already use AI on some level. For example, suppose your company has a rule that purchase orders over a threshold amount must be approved by a department head before they can be executed. Perhaps your automated workflow reads in the purchase order amount entered by the workflow user, compares it to the threshold and, seeing that it is over that threshold, automatically notifies the appropriate department head that their approval or denial is needed.
Software has always operated on basic principles of, “Read this data. If this, then that,” along with iterative programming steps and other types of data management and calculations. The AI of today, however, has the power to use quantities and types of data that even the most astute subject matter expert would be hard-pressed to take in and make sense of.
Smarter Marketing – One Possible Outcome of AI in Workflows
Imagine a marketing workflow that takes in data from customers and uses it, along with data from many other customers to reach conclusions and make predictions. Perhaps customers who bought X number of a product in Y time period had a 9 in 10 probability of buying product Z ultimately.
Data insights like these would allow a marketing workflow to automatically deliver marketing collateral for product Z to all customers who bought X products within a Y timeframe. That automation can save time and potentially bring in orders for product Z with a minimum of human interaction. Artificial intelligence is what gives “big data” its power. And the great thing is that AI applications can continue to “learn” from what happens as a result of the application’s actions.
AI Can Free Up Personnel to Handle the Human Side of Business
Standard business applications like online forms already handle a lot of repetitive tasks so that human personnel can use their brains and skills to manage the human or “high touch” aspects of business. Artificial intelligence will add new layers of functionality so that marketers or product developers can make better decisions and interact with customers in ways that applications, online forms, or workflows simply can’t. After all, automated workflows are great, but they can’t call or meet with customers and pick their brains about their needs and the future direction of their projects.
The most basic forms of AI are already used in automated workflows; workflow software is designed to make decisions and advance from one step to the next automatically based on the data the workflow takes in. But with more recent advances in AI, it’s reasonable to expect that tomorrow’s workflows will continue to become “smarter,” making business operations more efficient and preparing the people who run the business to carry out their human-to-human interactions with customers and clients.
PerfectForms is online form and workflow software that offers users an intelligent, friendly interface that allows them to drag and drop form elements into place, so hiring programmers to automate workflows becomes a thing of the past. Businesses of every size, and in just about every industry use PerfectForms to power their automated workflows with the exact features and decision criteria they need. Want to know more? Watch our demo video, and we’ll show you exactly how automated workflows take the intelligence powering your business to a higher level.