What Is Workflow Automation?
Workflow automation is the practice of listing a series of business tasks required to finish a certain process, then using a software system to automate all of the repetitive, manual parts—like sending emails, filling out forms, completing reimbursements, and more.
So what is a workflow used for? A workflow can be applied anywhere a business wants to streamline a set of tasks in order to save time and money. Many institutions use workflow automation for human resources, finance, and administrative work across campus.
What Is the Difference Between Workflow and Process Flow?
Often, the terms “workflow” and “process flow” are used interchangeably, but in reality, the two are quite different. Understanding the subtleties of these terms will help you determine the best course of action for your institution.
While a workflow refers to what needs to be done to complete a specific task, a process flow refers to what needs to be done to reach a goal within the institution or department.
A task might be something very simple, like reviewing and approving submitted paperwork or tracking down documents. On the other hand, a goal has a broader objective, like training a new employee or revamping the recruiting experience. Reaching these goals requires identifying and accomplishing many individual tasks.
Workflow and process flow are certainly related, with workflow focusing on the tasks within a process flow.
How Is Workflow Automation Software Beneficial?
Workflow automation software
offers a wealth of benefits, allowing institutions to reduce costs, minimize errors, and increase efficiency. When faculty and staff spend less time on repetitive, simple tasks, they have more time to get creative and think about high-level aspects of their work. In short, they can put their energy into what really
matters: serving students and advancing academic research.Here’s how workflow automation can benefit each department in your institution.
A recent study
by the Society of Research Administrators found that 33% of research administration approvals are collected on paper. Fortunately, you can cut back on a significant portion of administrators’ workload, and frustrations, using workflow solutions to automate these processes. Automation helps you minimize redundancies, data entry errors, and time-consuming, desk-to-desk transportation.
The IT department has one of the biggest opportunities to utilize workflow automation. The platform can be used to accelerate approvals, schedule and confirm software updates, manage and keep track of devices, and much more. This will give your IT team more time to enhance the institution’s digital experiences and spend less time putting out fires.
If your HR personnel spend their days manually entering employee information, managing expenses, and handling payroll, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to streamline processes and save time and money. A workflow automation platform can take many of these tasks off your employees’ plates, freeing their time for face-to-face interaction and high-level tasks.
Many tasks in the finance department require repetitive, manual work—which is ideal for workflow automation. Use an automation platform to minimize the time it takes to process travel requests, file reimbursements, get budget approvals, and the like.
Your registrar’s office should be spending time doing what they’re inherently good at: improving curriculum, supporting recruiting and enrollment, and helping current students. Allow them to spend their time effectively by using a workflow automation platform to eliminate many simple tasks like tracking down proposals and manually seeking out curriculum approvals.
How Can Higher Education Institutions Benefit from a Workflow Automation Platform?
Workflow automation platforms take workflow automation to the next level. These platforms can also benefit every department within your higher education institution, from IT or research to the registrar’s office. Kuali Build offers a workflow automation platform that allows higher education institutions to create custom forms and workflows that improve process management from start to finish.
It only takes a few minutes to transform an existing process by building no-code forms and integrating campus systems—with zero coding required. Check out Kuali Build’s features
to learn how the platform can launch your institution into the future.
How to Know If You Need Workflow Automation
Workflow automation software offers a wealth of benefits, allowing institutions to reduce costs, minimize errors, and increase efficiency. When faculty and staff spend less time on repetitive, simple tasks, they have more time to get creative and think about high-level aspects of their work. In short, they can put their energy into what really matters: serving students and advancing academic research.Here’s how workflow automation can benefit each department in your institution.
Is workflow automation right for you? Here are a few signs that it may be time to start searching for a workflow platform:
- You have many standardized, repetitive processes
- You have a lot of paper-based forms
- Many tasks get stuck in limbo, waiting for approval
- Departments suffer from miscommunication or repeated errors
- Some key tasks get overlooked
- Your employees lack accountability
- You’re frequently inquiring about the status of a task
What to Look for in a Quality Workflow Automation Platform
Simple, User-Friendly Design
You’re looking for an automation platform to make everyday tasks easier, right? Ensure your platform is intuitive and easy to use. Otherwise, you may spend an excessive amount of time just trying to learn how to use the software. Opt for a no-code workflow solution that allows you to build using drag-and-drop features.
Many workflow solutions don’t have the capability to integrate with other cloud-based systems, which can counteract your original goal of streamlining processes. For best results, look for platforms that are compatible with tools you’re already using.
How can you truly improve your processes without knowing how your workflow automation solutions are performing? You’ll naturally want to make small adjustments over time, and advanced reporting will allow you to do so more purposefully and effectively. Seek a platform that includes extensive reporting and analytics tools to optimize your processes to the fullest.
On-premise workflow automation platforms require more work to maintain in comparison to cloud-based versions. Higher quality platforms offer cloud hosting, giving you ease of access, better security, and increased ability to scale your processes.
No two institutions are alike, meaning customizable workflow solutions are essential to optimizing processes. The highest quality workflow automation platforms are complex enough to accommodate the nuanced business processes you need to streamline. Look for software that offers conditional steps, multiple branches, and other multi-faceted cases.
How Do You Create an Automated Workflow?
Creating an automated workflow is easier than you might imagine. No matter what department you’re designing a workflow for, there are some basic steps you’ll need to consider every time. The more you practice these steps, the more efficient you’ll become.
Follow these steps to creating an effective, automated workflow for any department.
1. Create a Workflow Diagram
Start the process by creating a diagram of your current workflow. This visualization exercise will give you a better grasp on which tasks can be automated. Don’t forget to include every step in the existing process—you can change and improve them later on.
2. Identify User Needs
What can your employees get out of automation? Identify pain points of your students or faculty or department peers before you determine exactly which tasks you’ll be automating. This step will allow you to determine how automation can best serve your institution.
3. Determine the Workflow KPIs
No automation process is complete without naming key performance indicators (KPIs) associated with the task. This allows you to measure results and optimize the automation process over time.
4. Create a Workflow Automation Process Using No-Code Software
Now it’s time to get to work. Kuali Build is the best platform to quickly build forms using customized branding, integrated look-ups, and complex fields. Easily route approvals, customize emails, and integrate key systems, all without using any code.
Once you’ve crafted your workflow process, put it to the test. Preview your complete processes using Kuali Build. You’ll be able to see the form and workflow, including branches, notifications, and integrations before you put it into action.
6. Deploy & Measure
Your workflow is being put to good use, but it’s not time to kick back just yet. Check reports to identify bottlenecks, determine next steps, and further improve your workflows. Kuali Build also allows you to view customizable reports and instantly export data to analyze in your preferred data management tool.
Now that you know how to build an automated workflow, the possibilities are endless. Move from one department to the next and watch your institution become more focused, productive, and efficient. What will you streamline next?