What is workflow automation?

Workflow automation:
The process of converting high-touch and largely manual business processes and workflows into faster and smoother low-touch digital workflows.

Understanding the distinction between tasks and processes, and processes and workflows, is important to making the transition from manual to digital workflows. Companies can start by auditing existing business processes. Next, they establish the logic for how those processes can be automated to form digital workflows.

Once processes are optimized and existing workflows defined, the work of transforming the way processes and people interact can begin. Success requires careful collaboration between executives, IT professionals, and the broader workforce. Here are a few key success factors:

Executive support

Although workflow automation is not a top-down initiative, efforts will compete for time with other priorities, so executive support is critical to help prioritize the resources required and to provide broad, organizational support.

IT transition

Automation doesn’t mean discarding older platforms or the professionals who oversee them; it clarifies the role of each in the new digital workflow. That’s why IT staff with expertise with legacy systems are crucial for a successful transition to digital workflows.

Broad organizational change

Digital transformation impacts basic processes on which companies rely, and requires buy-in and engagement from the entire workforce.

The next ten years will see rapid improvements in how workflows are automated. Chatbots, machine learning, natural-language voice commands and predictive analytics will all influence workflow automation. But people will remain at the center of digital workflows.