What are workflow automation tools?
Workflow automation tools and software automate manual processes and repetitive tasks with rule-based logic—improving productivity, efficiency, and organizational accuracy.
Definition of workflow automation software
Workflow automation software streamlines traditionally manual and tedious tasks to help businesses save time, reduce the risk of human error, and boost workplace productivity. By automating processes, it allows teams to focus on projects with higher impact instead of on repetitive tasks—and gives visibility into workflows to help identify areas of opportunity.
Workflow automation helps businesses refine their processes in several ways by:
- Automating and triggering tasks.
- Improving efficiency and productivity.
- Identifying areas for process improvements.
- Managing workflows and monitoring performance.
- Setting up reminders.
- Keeping teams in sync.
- Gathering actionable insights.
- Optimizing resource usage.
Workflow automation software runs on sources of data and a set of rules to manipulate that data, mimicking human intelligence. These workflow tools typically follow “if/then statements,” working on a rule of, “if A happens, then do B.” This rules-based logic system outlines the actions that should follow an event—which saves time and money plus reduces the risk for human mistakes.
Types of workflow automation tools
From data entry to lead nurturing and accounting, workflow automation tools are designed to reduce busywork and optimize processes. This helps maximize company time and resources, allowing employees to focus on higher-impact projects that often require more problem solving and creative thinking—something even the best workflow automation software won’t be able to replace.
Workflow automation software is a key piece of business process management (BPM), and there are several tools to optimize core functions in your organization and streamline manual tasks. Some types of workflow automation tools include:
Perhaps the most recognized type of workflow automation tool, project management apps help link together people, data, and other assets to optimize processes. These types of tools improve collaboration and help define, manage, and improve work delivery across multiple teams. By keeping project visibility high and communication open, processes ultimately run more smoothly and efficiently.
Sales and marketing
Sales and marketing workflow tools make data from prospects and customers easier to manage. The best apps use built-in analytics to help find inefficiencies and speed up processes across multiple channels—from email and SMS to social media. These automation tools don’t just repeat the same task every time; in fact, many create workflows to send customized marketing content based on customer behavior.
Customer service workflow tools help auto-assign tickets to agents, send auto-replies to common questions, and auto-tag tickets based on the question submitted. With customer service workflow automation, businesses can solve more customer issues faster—freeing live agents for more complicated issues.
Finance workflow automation tools help companies keep financial processes organized, compliant, and consistent. These types of workflows may help with daily operations like budget approvals, invoicing, purchase and expense requests, and accounting entries.
Workflow tools in human resources help automate documentation and cut down on administrative oversight, reducing the risk of error and providing better support to employees. These types of tools may help with new hire management, timesheets, job postings, and time off requests—giving HR professionals more time to focus on high-value tasks.
How does workflow automation benefit your organization?
Whether you’re looking to automate processes in finance, marketing, or IT, workflow automation software alleviates the burden of manual tasks and saves businesses significant time, resources, and money. These workflow tools not only speed up processes for your team, they also help free up time for the work that matters most and guide future decision-making—working as part of a larger business process management software solution.
Benefits of workflow automation tools
Manual data entry is tedious and opens room for small human mistakes that can have a big impact on your organization—from bookkeeping inaccuracies to incorrect invoices. Workflow software, on the other hand, uses centralized, real-time data to run administrative tasks, reducing the risk of costly errors.
Workflow automation tools increase visibility of processes, reducing bottlenecks, and keeping projects moving in the right direction. Since assignments and follow-up tasks can be automatically assigned, performance is easier to track and manage—which minimizes delays in the process.
When tedious and manual tasks are automated, teams have more time and resources to focus on higher-impact projects. Many workflow automation apps also improve overall collaboration—so less time is wasted tracking down information, seeking approvals, or following up with back-and-forth communication.
Clearly designed workflows and automated notifications help employees stay on the same page and understand their roles in a project. It also makes cross-functional collaboration easier and improves accountability for tasks, ensuring everyone is working toward the same goal.
Real-time reporting with better visualization is a key benefit of workflow automation. Using data analytics on processes means organizations can capture performance metrics, identify areas of opportunities, and make more informed decisions about their operations.
How to pick the best workflow automation tools for your business needs
When choosing the best workflow automation tool for your organization, it’s important to first analyze your current processes, pinpoint bottlenecks, and understand what teams will be using the tools. Once you have a better understanding of your business needs, look for the following features as you compare different solutions:
- A user-friendly interface and simple navigation.
- AI and machine learning for intelligent document processing (IDP).
- Seamless integrations with third-party tools and the apps you use every day.
- Customizable workflows.
- Cloud-based operability.
- Data analytics and real-time reporting.
- Enhanced security and data protection.
- Scalability for evolving business needs.
Examples of workflow automation tools in use
The time spent on simple processes like replying to emails, creating tasks, or copying data from one source to another can quickly add up. But by setting up automated workflows, businesses can drastically increase efficiency and add value back to core operations—from marketing and finance to human resources.
Some examples of workflow automation in action include:
- Sending automated follow-ups and replies after a customer fills out a contact form.
- Sending lead-nurture email sequences after a triggered event.
- Automatically invoicing customers for monthly payments.
- Creating SLAs to ensure timely replies to urgent issues.
- Reimbursing employee expenses.
- Sending reminders for deadlines and approvals.
- Auto-assigning tasks and projects to team members.
- Onboarding new employees.
- Approving vacation requests.
Discover better ways to work
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Frequently asked questions
What are workflow automation tools and software?
Workflow automation tools and software streamlines traditionally manual and tedious tasks using rule-based logic, helping businesses save time, reduce the risk of human error, and boost workplace productivity.
What are the different types of workflow automation tools?
There are several types of automation tools to optimize core functions in your organization and streamline manual tasks. These include workflow tools for project management, marketing and sales, customer service, finance, and human resources.
How does workflow automation benefit your organization?
Workflow automation helps businesses save time, resources, and money. Benefits of workflow automation include less data entry errors, streamlined processes, improved productivity, better communication and collaboration, and deeper business insights.
What is the difference between intelligent document processing and automated document processing?
Intelligent document processing uses AI and machine learning to process documents, extracting relevant information from unstructured or semi-structured data and transforming it into usable formats for other business applications or analysis. Automated document processing is a simplified version of this. It captures, extracts, and stores data by converting it to an internal business system or spreadsheet; however, it typically doesn’t involve document classification, validation, or analysis for deeper learning.
What are examples of workflow automation tools in use?
Workflow automation tools drastically increase efficiency and add value back to core operations. Some examples of workflow automation in use include automating follow-ups and replies, creating and assigning tasks, sending monthly invoices, or even approving vacation requests.