9 Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Workflow Automation

April 22, 2024

Sarath D Babu Client Partner, Pearson, NA

In today’s digital era, workflow automation solutions are revolutionizing the way businesses operate, turning repetitive tasks into efficient processes. At its core, workflow automation solutions comprise advanced tools and software engineered to streamline business processes. They operate by minimizing manual efforts, ensuring tasks are executed more rapidly and with fewer errors. Given that 94% of small- and medium-sized enterprises perform time-consuming, repetitive tasks, workflow automation could be the best solution to improve productivity. In fact, 90% of knowledge workers say automation has improved their jobs while 66% say they have experienced increased productivity.

But, just like any other transformative tool, the incorrect application of automation can lead to significant setbacks. Here’s a look at the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not Clearly Defining Objectives

Clarity in objectives acts as the foundation of effective workflow automation. A prominent e-commerce brand once faced substantial revenue losses due to the misalignment of their automation objectives with their inventory management strategy. The misstep led to stock discrepancies, affecting sales and customer trust.

Mistake #2: Over-Automating Processes

The allure of workflow automation solutions is undeniable. However, diving too deep can sometimes obscure essential human touchpoints. Especially in areas like client relations, a personal touch can make all the difference. Businesses must discern which tasks to automate and which to retain as human-centric.

Mistake #3: Neglecting Employee Training

Introducing cutting-edge automation tools is only half the battle. Without equipping employees with the right skills, businesses risk stagnation. Many companies introduce new workflow automation systems but overlook the training aspect. The result? A steep decline in productivity and a frustrated workforce struggling to adapt to the new system.

Mistake #4: Skipping the Testing Phase

Implementing workflow automation solutions without a thorough testing phase is akin to walking blindfolded. Any undiscovered glitch can disrupt services, potentially tarnishing a company’s reputation. Regular simulations and test runs can prevent such fiascos.

Mistake #5: Not Evaluating and Updating the Workflow Regularly

An ever-evolving market necessitates adaptive workflows. Automation processes, if left unreviewed, can become outdated, leading to inefficiencies. Proactive evaluations and adaptions to changing business landscapes ensure sustained productivity. Business verticals gaining the largest ROI from workflow automation, according to a recent salesforce survey include:

  • IT
  • Operations
  • Customer service
  • Finance
  • HR
  • Marketing

Mistake #6: Ignoring Integration with Existing Systems

Isolated automation solutions often create more problems than they solve. For a cohesive operational environment, integration with existing systems is paramount. This synergy ensures seamless data flow and maximizes the potential of automation tools.

Mistake #7: Overlooking Security Concerns

As operations become more digital, they become more susceptible to cyber threats. Ensuring that your workflow automation solutions are equipped with robust security protocols is essential. Data breaches, unauthorized access, and other cyber threats can compromise business data. Ensure your solution prioritizes encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular security audits.

Mistake #8: Not Setting Up Proper Monitoring and Reporting Mechanisms

Successful automation thrives on continuous feedback. A multinational corporation once saw exponential growth by harnessing the power of real-time monitoring. The insights derived allowed them to fine-tune processes, optimizing efficiency.

Mistake #9: Choosing a One-size-fits-all Solution

Every organization boasts unique needs and challenges. Opting for generic workflow automation solutions can inadvertently stifle growth. Investing in customizable solutions ensures that the tools align perfectly with a company’s distinct operational landscape.

Setting up workflow automation solutions requires diligence, foresight, and an understanding of your business processes. When done correctly, workflow automation can power customer service agents to handle 13.8% more customer queries per hour, says a July 2023 Neilson Norman Group report. In addition, business professionals say it increases business document creation per hour by 59% while programmers say they can code 126% more projects each week.

As you embark on your automation journey, use this post as a checklist to avoid common pitfalls and ensure a seamless, efficient, and effective implementation.

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