The pace of business today is brisk. Clients and customers expect their products and services to be delivered efficiently, without a lot of extraneous procedures and needless delays. What’s more, clients and customers won’t tolerate mistakes, because they know technology is available to make things faster and more accurate.
There are some processes that can’t be automated, but there are many that can be, and when you put workflow tools into action, you gain efficiency and reduce frustration. Just about every business can use workflow tools to be more productive, whether you shoe horses or help people prepare their taxes.
Workflow Tools Speed Processes
Suppose you have a database of customers that you created from customers filling out forms by hand. That’s great, but not only do customers have to accomplish the tedious task of completing forms manually, someone has to decipher that information and type it into a database. But what if you made it so new customers could enter their information into an online form? Not only does that save them time, the data can be automatically entered into your database, so nobody has to retype it. In other words, workflow tools accelerate processes, so you can spend more time on business functions and less on administration.
Workflow Tools Reduce Errors
Manual processes are subject to mistakes. We’ve all lost paper forms, entered the wrong information in the wrong blank, or accidentally shredded the document we were supposed to make copies of. When you get processes off of paper and take handoffs out of people’s actual hands, the chance for errors goes way down. A completed request form that’s sent to the purchasing department electronically isn’t going to get ruined by spilled coffee or accidentally left under a stack of file folders.
Common Roadblocks to Automating Workflows
One of the biggest roadblocks to automation happens when companies allow departments to develop their own workflow tools in silos. It’s great that both HR and payroll have online forms for new hires, but wouldn’t it make sense to integrate them so new hire information entered once could populate forms in both departments?
Automating inefficient processes simply makes for faster inefficiencies, and that’s not what you’re after. Workflow tools should work together, across departments if necessary, to streamline procedures. Taking a holistic view of automation means using workflow tools to transcend departmental boundaries, not just speed things up within departments.
A Great Way to Start: Online Forms
If you’re ready to take your business into the faster, more efficient world of automation but don’t know where to start, a great place is with online forms. As workflow tools go, online forms are terrific for making a positive difference right from the start. Instead of submitting a paper form to HR to request vacation, workers can fill out an electronic form and submit it electronically. The system can automatically notify relevant parties when a form is received and when there is a reply to it. You’ll save time, save paper, and reduce mistakes with online forms, and today’s form creation software makes it easy to make custom forms tailored specifically for your needs.
Next Step: Link Forms Into Coherent Workflows
Maybe you have a process, like equipment purchasing, which requires multiple steps. Making the forms required for purchasing equipment electronic is a start, but linking them together into a coherent workflow is where the rubber meets the road.
Say an engineer submits a request for a piece of equipment and submits it. It costs more than $500, so departmental approval is required. The workflow automatically flags the form and sends it to the appropriate departmental authority, along with an email alert. Once the department signs off electronically, the forms go to the purchasing department, which takes the information directly from the electronic forms and creates a purchase order. There’s no physical handoff of paper, every form contains accurate information, and there’s an electronic audit trail for budgeting purposes. Any number of office processes can be linked into similar electronic workflows.
Nobody has time for inefficiencies arising from manual, outdated work processes, and many companies join the automation revolution by creating electronic forms. With PerfectApps, you can create great looking, customized forms with your company colors and logo using an intuitive drag and drop interface. And once you create your forms, you can link them together into coherent workflows with drag and drop convenience too. From the first day, efficiency increases and error rates drop, for a fast return on investment. Have a look at the PerfectApps demo video and see for yourself how easy it can be to create workflow tools that take your business to the next level of efficiency.