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How to choose the right workflow automation tool for your business?

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How to choose the right workflow automation tool for your business?

Using technology to make your business seamlessly efficient and reduce manual efforts, hence errors, is workflow automation. It automates your entire business and streamlines every department, giving visibility to setbacks and other areas that need troubleshooting. 

According to an IBM report, businesses can save up to 90% of time by transitioning to workflow automation tools. To select the right workflow automation tool, you must begin with thorough research of the various platforms offering their services. Choose a business workflow automation solution that suits you and is tailored to your needs. 

Without further adieu, let's look into the factors you need to consider before locking in one workflow automation tool and kickstarting your business by saving time and having your growth graph trajectory on a great spectrum:- 

Step 1. Assessing the business’s needs

The primary goal after deciding to automate your workflow is to identify your needs. 

- Does your business need smooth communication?

- Does it involve highly complex workflows that require different features than what the mainstream automation tool providers are supplying? 

Define your business requirements, considering your company size, growth potential, integration requirements, and user friendliness.

Some businesses need heavy, complex automation tools, but others need semi-automated, no-code workflows that do not expect you to understand the backend of them. For seamless data exchange and a smooth workflow, the automation tool selected should fit your needs to fulfill your set goal. 

Step 2. Defining the flow of Automation

Workflow automation can be approached in 2 ways:-

i) Business process automation (BPA) 

ii) Robotic process automation (RPA). 

Business process automation (BPA) is automating repeatable business tasks using software that requires humans to lead it. On the other hand, RPA functions based on logic, rules, and task-based automation. 

Any repeated tasks can easily be automated under RPA if these tasks require little or no human intervention. Rule-based workflows like data entry, task assignments, and approval of documents have set tasks and methods. 

Step 3. Loop in the end users

When you lock in the automation or try to figure out what tools work best for the business, ensure to include the department heads, managers, team leads, editors, etc. As various departments have various needs, asking for their pain points, gathering data on troubleshooting, and helping the team perform smoothly and efficiently not only produces great results but also encourages the team. This reduces a lot of manual hassle, creates an environment of trust and accountability, and everything is on the record and accessible. 

Involvement of other teams with their issues will give you deep insights on how to make the organization flourish and keep the employees thriving alongside.  

Step 4. Integrating workflow automation

While looking for a workflow automation tool, do ensure you are looking into platforms that integrate seamlessly with Google Drive or Microsoft SharePoint. iPaaS (integration platform as a service) provides a workflow automation tool to integrate with various applications and data sources on premises and on cloud-based services. 

iPaaS allows businesses to convert data from one form to another, helping in mapping and providing visual interfaces for easy handling and user friendliness. Also, consider looking into process monitoring and management via real-time visibility into execution to monitor if the KPIs are being met. 

This also helps in identifying bottleneck issues and helps to note and avoid them in the future. 

Step 5. Selecting a team-friendly workflow automation tool 

User-friendliness is an important aspect to consider while choosing a business workflow automation solution. The team needs to feel effective and smooth to operate the platform. For this, you can ensure that there's no code workflow in the automation of the tool. 

Go through the manuals and step-by-step guides to the tool. Ask one or two team members from technical and non-technical departments to go through the platform. By doing so, you can assess what needs are met and what aren't. This gives you a clear picture of various tools and their ease of use, and you can consider incorporating the tool that your team finds efficient. 

Step 6. Assessing customization options 

The business model automation tools allow visual models to be accomplished by humans and then embedded in the software. Whereas the RPA models are customisable to the user's needs.

The business has the freedom to set rules and logic that trigger certain sets of protocols, helping smoother functioning of further decision-making and task routing. Compliance and audit trails need customisation tailored according to business needs. 

Step 7. Scalability for business growth

Scalability is primarily a backend task for the workflow automation you are selecting. Maintaining an agile environment for tracking business growth is of vital importance that scalability matches your growth trajectory without any disruptions. 

Some critical aspects of scalability to be considered include checking the shared objects that come with security privileges; variabilization can also be considered for template-based documents that need frequent changes.

Finally, seek out low-code API-accessible integrations to seamlessly connect online and set up a workflow that works across your organization. 

Step 8. Security and compliance workflow

A set of protocols to be carried out with regards to legal regulations, corporate, and compliance requirements that involve managing and obtaining certifications adhering to laws and regulatory standards is part of a compliance workflow. 

Automating compliance reduces the risk of manual errors and hassle and enables continuous and efficient monitoring systems for security and other operations. Regulating HIPAA or GDPR to adhere to healthcare and finances can also be considered under this. 

Hence, while selecting an automation tool for your workflow, ensure all of this is part of the offering. Compliance software can also be additionally integrated with certain workflow tools for insightful reporting and adapting to regulatory changes. 

Step 9. Assess the reporting and analytics features

- How is your current reporting and analysis conducted? Excel sheet? Doc? 

- What is your format? Does it help the team to be more efficient? 

Around 30% of businesses admit that having automated report analysis has helped them work with focus and determination and produce the goals they seek. 

Any good workflow automation tool would have robust reporting features that equip you and the team to track and analyze workflow performance. This also gives an in-depth insight into every employee, their task assigned, how many got unlocked, the time consumed to finish the task, and the roadblocks to the task. 

Basically, an overall coverage of your organization's functional and nonfunctional programming You can troubleshoot a problem only when it's visible; this feature in any workflow automation tool will cause the errors to come to the surface so you can work on them. Ask the team members to create a dummy task and upload it to the tool to then verify if it's visible and aligning to the team's benefits. 

Step 10. Availability of mobile accessibility

Work from home is the new jam. If you are a hybrid or remote organization, one prime thing to consider while choosing the ideal workflow automation tool for your business is prioritizing mobile accessibility. 

Since the team is frequently on the go, it is important to connect and get the tasks done regardless of time and place. In such cases, mobile accessibility helps one to connect quicker and doesn't give much reason for delay. This increases overall productivity and management. 

Several workflow automation tools offer accessibility from smartphones and tablets. Communication eases workflow, and mobile accessibility of any automation tool is a business’ best friend.

Step 11. Reviewing training programs and technical support

Every vendor providing workflow automation ensures that they have a technical team to support any business they are providing their platform to. Certain platforms also conduct a thorough training program. 

This involves running different departments into the sectors of the platform that are used by them. For example, the marketing team needs to upload visuals often; a flowchart of this workflow is defined. 

Overall explanation and in-depth department learning are done by some workflow automation tool providers, to name a few popular ones that work and provide training effectively: Zoho and Zendesk. Several providers, instead of online training, provide you with easy-to-learn and pre-recorded tutorials explaining step-by-step the journey. Besides that, there's always customer support available. 

Check by calling them and asking questions via their support channels including call center, live chat and social media to see if they are responsive and match your frequency of work. 

Step 12. Total cost of ownership 

Once you have listed down all your requirements and analyzed the workflow automation tool, begin with the final cost that's taken. The costing can include subscriptions. Various automation tools have user-based subscriptions or packages on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis based on the space and tools required by you. 

There's also other various factors to be considered, such as training fees, as you need to invest in conducting seminars and workshops for a seamless transition with all your employees. Integration and customisation fees also need to be included. Determine the total cost of ownership of the tools and equip them efficiently. Budgetize and proceed with whatever suits your requirements. 

Choosing the right workflow automation tool can be an exhausting process. Considering the number of platforms that are currently up and running and providing such services, it is certainly overwhelming to shortlist someone that fits your business. Nevertheless, given that you have read the blog, you have the points sorted, and you are ready to launch your business transition effortlessly. For further assistance, you can head here

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Pankaj Tripathi
Written by
Pankaj Tripathi

Helping enterprises capture data for analytics and decisioning

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