As automation becomes more of a staple within administrative departments, the ability to create workflows shouldn’t be limited to a select few. Accessibility is a quality that’s sorely lacking in many workflow interfaces, as department managers within accounting, HR, and other departments frequently lean on IT and the few others who are trained in creating and implementing workflows.
Clean, intuitive UIs as well as coherent, clear-cut resources to learn how to create workflows, can go a long way toward allowing anyone to implement automation or at least make adjustments. There’s also a general need for educational resources that teach workers the basics of automated workflows and how they greatly benefit administrative processes.
Concepts such as conditional coding should be understood by all workers that are involved in the workflow process.
[If x = y, then z, else w]
You’re essentially telling the computer to check if a certain value is true or false and to recognize that if that value is true, then it needs to perform a certain action. Likewise, if that value is false, the computer will perform a different action or do nothing.
Conditional logic is used in several programming languages including Java, C++, SQL, PHP and dozens of others. It’s a simple way to tell a computer to perform an action upon a certain condition being met. Using this logic, you can build a tree of commands that eventually takes the shape of an executable program. This is a simplified explanation of computer programming, but it can still be used by anyone to code a series of instructions for a program. The control flow is the order in which the program follows the instructions. The computer won’t move on until it executes the current instruction set.
An efficient accounts payable workflow is essential to any well-organized business. Accounts payable, along with accounts receivable, are vital to understanding a business’s revenue flow. Accountants that work in accounts payable are tasked with reviewing invoices and routing them for approval. They’re responsible for making sure those records are upkept, balances are paid, and there are no errors.
Workflows like this that automate simple document processes can be programmed by anyone, and they save so much time. Nearly any document process can be automated by simple conditional statements. This process can save companies time and money, by freeing staff up to concentrate on more important tasks.
Using automated document management, departments can automate most of the menial and routine tasks that pull focus away from the work that actually contributes to the growth of the organization. Workers not only save hours of time but find their job more fulfilling when half their time isn’t wasted on filing documents, manually inputting data, and chasing signatures.
So how do you make automated workflows more accessible?
After understanding the basics behind conditional coding, an intuitive interface makes creating workflows exponentially easier. Many workers are visual learners and so a logic model or diagram component to designing greatly helps with envisioning how a workflow plays out when initiated.
When designing automated workflows, it’s important to visualize what gaps exist in your current workflow so you can properly bridge them. A visual map of workflows makes these processes easier to plot out.
All offices have their day-to-day protocols and routines when it comes to handling their paperwork. Certain forms need approval from certain supervisors before the next action item can take place. There can’t be any exceptions or any shortcuts, especially if your business is beholden to certain compliance standards and can be subject to auditing. The larger the office and the larger the volume of paperwork, the more difficult it can be to track and make sure everything gets to the right people and the system keeps moving. Having a complicated system takes time, and at any point, one step gets held up, it holds up the whole system.
The power of automation is further supported by intelligent optical character recognition. The system is able to identify values in preselected fields to allow the system to execute multiple actions based on those values. For a payment approval workflow, the system can identify the balance owed in the invoice. The system can be set up to send invoices with a lower dollar amount to a designated supervisor like an assistant director, while ones with an amount that’s higher are sent to a higher level like the VP of Finance for approval.
Workflow automation is a big part of the mission of making organizations more efficient, allowing offices to automate the processes that cost them time and money. With workflows automated, businesses can begin thinking about their processes in a new light and allow them to further streamline them to make the most out of their resources.