Workflow Automation is one of XRay’s main tools for designing effective workflows, and it’s a rapidly growing part of every industry.
But many entrepreneurs may not be familiar with workflow automation, particularly when it comes to automation built with no-code tools.
In this post, we’ll explain exactly what workflow automation is, why it can help your company, and how you can get started with automation. We’ll also show
Let’s get into it.
Defining workflow automation
Workflow automation is the act of supporting any business process with automated actions performed by software.
In some cases, an entire process will be automated end-to-end. In other situations, only certain tasks will be automated, while the rest of the process will still be conducted by people.
Automating tasks at any scale
Workflow automation can operate at nearly any scale. On an individual level, you can automate a single simple task, like configuring your email to send an automatic reply at certain times of the day.
At an organizational scale, you can build an automated workflow to handle intricate and important processes, like client onboarding.
A workflow like this would perform tasks like automatically creating folders in Google Drive, creating channels in Slack or Microsoft Teams, provisioning accounts, and setting tasks in Asana, Monday, Basecamp or Jira - or whatever your task management software is.
Workflow automation can help you accomplish a few simple, repetitive tasks; it can help shoulder a massive administrative burden for your organization; and it can do almost anything in between - if you thoughtfully design the way you work.
A quick guide to no-code automation
You can create automations by developing custom software to perform the task, or by using no-code platforms.
Since most of us aren’t Python developers, no-code automation platforms let us build automated workflows without needing to write any code.
No-code tools make automation more accessible
Using a simple interface, they let you construct automations that typically consist of a single trigger and several actions.
The trigger defines when the automation should run, and the actions define what it should do.
There are several automation providers available dedicated to building no-code automations: Zapier, Make, Unito, Coupler, Automate.io, and Exalate, just to name a few.
No-code automation is much more accessible to people who aren’t familiar with software development, and it lets you prototype and build much faster.
The benefits of workflow automation
So why should you automate? What’s the value of handing some of your critical processes over to the robots?
The benefits of automation can vary based on the specific use case, but there are four key advantages that every organization can gain from automation:
• Saving time
• Making your team enjoy their work
• Making your processes more consistent
• Easily tracking key data
• Let’s take a quick look at each of these benefits.
Automation excels at quickly performing highly repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Depending on the process, a single automated workflow can save you up to several hours each week.
At XRay, we’ve helped save clients over 6 hours a week with a lead handling workflow, and over an hour per client with an onboarding workflow.
And that’s just the beginning. If your first automation is designed and built the right way, you’ll have the infrastructure in place to start building more - which means more time saved, and more robotic tasks accomplished.
Make Your Team Enjoy their Work
For knowledge workers, automation isn’t the enemy. It’s not a threat to people and their jobs. Workflow automation supports people as they perform critical tasks, handling the tedious to-dos that nobody likes doing anyway.
When your team no longer has to spend time on robotic tasks, they can devote more of their day to work that leverages their unique skills, making them more productive and more satisfied with their work.
Automation makes work easier, and makes it more fun. When you give your people the superpower of workflow automation, they’re going to love being a part of your team.
Create Consistency for your Business Processes
Automation makes your business processes more consistent.
Before you can automate a process, you have to clearly define how it works. When you conduct it manually, you can leave several steps ambiguous and rely on your team to fill in the gaps with their judgment and preferences.
But when you automate the process, you need to define every action precisely so that software can carry out each step. While people will always make mistakes from time to time, your automated workflows will perform every action the exact same way, every time.
There may be a few bugs to iron out, but your automations will have a much lower error rate than you could ever get from a person.
Easily track key data
One of automation’s most useful benefits is something that many wouldn’t expect. On top of saving time and improving your operational consistency, automation enables you to gather key data about any process that you automate.
The automation providers that you use will inherently keep a record of every time your automations run, so you’ll have a wealth of data regarding the automations themselves, not just the end result.
It only takes a few additional steps to log that data in spreadsheets and export it to convenient data visualization apps. So if you’re looking for deeper insights into specific process performance, automation might be the best choice to capture these meta-statistics.
Getting started with automation
If you’d like to get started with automation, there are several ways that you can begin.
If you’re interested in building automations for your own use, we’d encourage you to try building some workflows on Zapier and Make yourself. You can check out the other videos on our channel for all sorts of no-code automation tips and tutorials. Even just a few simple automations can help you to save some time and organize your work every day.
If you’re interested in building automations to support your entire organization, you can reach out to a company like XRay to discuss your goals and your options. You can visit our website to learn more and schedule a call.
Most automation providers also offer a list of certified experts and partners who can help you to build automations for your company. For instance, you can find Zapier’s expert directory here, or click here for Integromat’s list of partners.
Enhancing your workflows with automation
Workflow automation is quickly becoming a vital tool for organizations of every size. It’s a great way to free up time for your team, make your processes more consistent, and start tracking your organization’s activity. With convenient no-code automation tools, it’s easier than ever to get started.
If you’d like to learn more about no-code and low-code automation, check out our blog or our YouTube channel. You can also follow XRay on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.