Improve how work gets done

Digital workflow drives business efficiency.

Johannesburg, 16 Oct 2017
Read time 3min 30sec
Stephan Gous, SWECA Territory Manager, Nintex.
Stephan Gous, SWECA Territory Manager, Nintex.

Organisations around the world are looking for ways to improve how work gets done, and are turning to cloud-based technology to digitally transform their businesses.

The trends driving digital transformation include a need to simplify processes and enable greater collaboration within and without the business to ensure deliverables are met timeously. The term 'digital transformation' is a broad one, and just one aspect of it is the automation of workflows and forms used routinely within the business. In short, digital workflows are helping businesses to break down information silos and improve existing processes.

Stephan Gous, SWECA Territory Manager at Nintex, explains: "Most businesses have information silos spread across divisions, branches and projects, sometimes even across borders, as well as with suppliers and customers. The challenge is that these silos can get in the way of communication and, ultimately, impede the progress of tasks or projects. The right technology choices can massively improve internal working processes and make significant cost savings in such distributed organisations. What's required is a precise digital strategy that's built around workflow automation that connects processes."

In general, organisations face huge challenges when dealing with complexity, silos and consistency of information flows around the business, which means there are ever more silos and ever more potential for processes to break down.

All too often in business, processes are manual and fairly informal. While there's nothing inherently wrong with this, problems arise very quickly if teams in different departments forget to carry out important formal processes. When processes are managed in an ad hoc manner, they risk breaking down.

Opportunities that workflow automation presents for business include:

* Tracking productivity
* Paperwork
* Generating reports
* Workflow analytics
* Setting up regular training or feedback sessions
* Being able to provide up-to-date information and documents around compliance
* Automation of internal and external processes
* Data-driven decision-making
* Field workers with mobile access to data and tools and real-time assistance
* Improve customer relations by automating certain interactions and generating data

Underpinning the above-mentioned activities are numerous, repeated processes. Gous says: "A disconnect between different parts of the business can result in confusion and misunderstanding when completing these processes, and, in turn, wasted time, energy and resources. By automating the workflow, the risk of breakdowns in the process is significantly reduced and communication and collaboration are improved. The aim is to simplify and streamline processes to effectively connect different information silos."

Workflow automation aims to boost the efficiency of organisational processes by automatically carrying out repetitive, often mundane tasks, freeing employees for more complex work, and removing the potential for human error within these internal processes. Traditionally, such processes that depend on people can easily break down for all manner of reasons - from an employee overlooking an e-mail request to someone simply forgetting to complete a task.

Workflow automation minimises these risks by codifying processes into automated systems that significantly increase the likelihood of tasks being done correctly and on time. Without automation, a process could easily be ignored or overlooked. However, automated workflows make this much less likely to happen by generating e-mail reminders until they have completed the task. It also means other team members and management can see if the task hasn't been completed and the next stage in the workflow will be unable to progress until the task is completed.

"Businesses automating processes achieve significant time saved that frees up employees to focus on what matters most - delivering great customer experiences while continuously driving innovation and bottom-line results," says Gous. "It also enables better business decisions to be made by centralising and organising data for further analysis. And naturally, by streamlining processes to ensure they are completed on time and to budget, the business becomes more cost-efficient."

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