Automated processes equate to time saved, and workers freed up for higher-value work. That’s the view of 1,000 information workers who were surveyed about their perceptions of automation. The results were largely positive, and it’s no wonder: More than 40% of those surveyed said they currently spend over a quarter of their work week on manual, repetitive tasks.
Helping your organization free up time for innovation is clearly a benefit of automating repetitive work; what’s less clear for many is where to start. The answer lies in looking for processes that when automated will have the biggest impact on business operations and results.
Automation doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking, even for large enterprises, if you utilize a cloud-based enterprise work management platform that is fast to implement and easy to use. Once you’ve identified your platform, you can expect to see some of the biggest gains in three common types of processes.
- Processes Involving Multiple Enterprise Systems
Numerous teams are involved in onboarding new customers – sales, finance, professional services, and sometimes more – so actions and reporting take place within multiple systems, like Salesforce or Jira. When customer data is copied and pasted from one system to another, or exported into a spreadsheet that is then emailed from one department to the next, hours of time are wasted and the risk for human error is large.
A work management system can act as the connective layer between other enterprise systems and keep information updated. Sales or services leaders can build out automated processes that streamline approval requests to initiate an onboarding project or kick off work with a new team member.
By eliminating manual work and reducing human error, organizations are able to onboard clients faster, accelerate revenue, and ultimately deliver a better customer experience.
- Approval Processes Requiring Accountability and Visibility
Getting sign-off on decisions can be time-consuming and tedious. For example, sales reps commonly request approval for customer discounts. Depending on the customer and the size of the discount, multiple approvals can be required – and it’s not uncommon for requests to get lost in a busy director’s inbox or miss the attention of a VP, preventing the rep from closing new business quickly.
With a work management system, sales organizations can quickly build an automated approval process to route these requests to the right people at the right time (and automatically remind them if timely action isn’t taken).
Not only is the reps’ time freed up to build better relationships with their customers, transparency is created around this motion for the entire salesforce. Leadership has accurate data to analyze to inform pricing decisions.
- Processes Involving External Customers, Vendors, or Contractors
Whether you’re working on behalf of a client or you are the client, work is at its most efficient when there is less back-and-forth communication. Yet the amount of time spent sending emails, combing through attachments, and sitting in on status calls getting internal and external teams on the same page often slows the speed of business to a crawl.
Pieces of these processes can be easily streamlined with automation. For example, accounts payable has fewer tasks when invoices are routed automatically for approvals and the vendor receives automatic status notifications for invoice approval and payment.
Not only does the speed at which teams are able to work increase, when all parties have access to the most updated information, a better final product is produced.
Seeing the Impact
Smartsheet, a cloud-based work management system, envisions a bright future for customers automating these types of process using its intuitive process automation functionality. “The automation that can happen in Smartsheet is so much easier than creating the complex processes required by many enterprise systems,” explains Scott Willeke, product manager for Smartsheet. “And because non-technical users can easily create many types of Smartsheet processes themselves, there is less burden on IT for development and support.”
Automated processes for information workers are gaining traction. And when more users can easily automate more work processes, businesses benefits from more innovative solutions to operational roadblocks.
Thinking about automating work processes? Ask yourself these 3 questions, and read more about enterprise automation with Smartsheet.