We are often surprised to find that, in the best of companies, many workflows that involve data collection, processing, reviews, approvals and reporting depend on manual processing by way of Excel sheets.
Manual or inefficient business processes are a cause of revenue leakage, employee discomfort and poor customer delivery, yet they are often overlooked by strategic leadership. While there may be a number of initiatives under way for quality and process improvement in the enterprise, the plight of a manager who is regularly collating Excel sheets from various colleagues to create management reports often goes unnoticed. How is sales data being collected and analyzed? What about manufacturing data parameters and reports, employee related data including expenses and reports?
On the other hand, organizations that automate workflows find tremendous gains in information quality, speed, accuracy, productivity, employee morale and customer satisfaction.
So if you need to develop web applications and mobile apps that will automate your business workflows, what features do they need? We have listed our choice of the top 7 features that any workflow automation system must include:
Customized to your business
When we develop software systems to automate specific business processes for a client, a critical part of the process is to understand your business, how things are being done currently, and why. What information is required and by whom? Where is the data that forms the basis of that information? Whose responsibility is it to collect data? Who is the originator of any process or request? Who is the reviewer or approver? What checks and balances are needed? These are some of the aspects that need to be documented, with flowcharts wherever relevant. A bespoke solution works better than off-the-shelf applications.
With off-the-shelf applications, you will need to make changes to your processes to fit into their defined workflows, and that will not serve your purpose well.
Tailored for different roles
Each business process has a number of stakeholders and they play a specific role in it. When you plan to replace a manual process with an automated workflow, the system must be mapped to serve the needs of different roles. A CXO may need a dashboard that aids management decision-making, but may never enter data about inventory at a particular factory. A plant head may be authorized for certain approvals related to her or his own plant, but not other ones.
As a workflow automation services team, our focus is on understanding all the roles and their respective requirements and creating a system that maps to each.
Ensure that all stakeholders in the process have been considered and their specific requirements have been incorporated.
Reporting insightful information
The reports and dashboards that present information are a very important part of the system, and one of the main reasons why systems are preferred over manual processes. What information is required by stakeholders and how should it be organized in order to aid interpretation and decision-making? While numbers and percentages may be helpful, is there a need for processing the numbers further and displaying results, for example, average or deviation?
Charts are helpful as they provide a visual snapshot of the information and appropriate types of charts that best suit the situation should be used.
You may also want alerts that are triggered by certain events, and delivered to relevant stakeholders through mobile app notifications or emails or text messages. Do consider all the kinds of reports you need and ensure that the system is designed to deliver them.
Enhance collaboration & communication
A workflow automation system overcomes the problem of information scattered across many people’s email inboxes and excel sheets, with no way to manage or track it. A good workflow automation system enables all relevant communication between stakeholders to take place within the system itself. You may also want documents to be shared within the system. Do plan for communication between stakeholders that will improve productivity and enable quick responses.
Maintain information security
As critical business information resides within the system, it’s important that the workflow automation services team understands how to secure it. Ask them about data security and prevention of unauthorized access, as well as storage and backup.
Delivered on any device
Workflows that are available on mobile devices are a great productivity enhancer and can even be used by team members on the go and who are not in the office. The system needs to be designed with features and User Interface (UI) that will render independently on desktops, mobile phones and tablets.
Leverage cloud capabilities
A cloud-based application can serve the needs of your team members or your customers, no matter where in the world they are. You could also benefit from the flexible investment models that cloud infrastructure provides, rather than a fixed upfront investment in servers. See that your workflow automation system development partner can leverage cloud infrastructure effectively for you.
We have shared some of the features that have helped automated workflows to transform our customers’ business processes and had an impact on their financial results. Are you looking to automate your workflows and serve powerful data visualization to senior management? Drop us a line, we would love to discuss your requirements.