New solutions and innovations are always critiqued and scrutinized, and automation is no exception to the rule. Perhaps AP managers and administrators like yourself have been burned in the past by a hokey “magical automation miracle elixir,” but it’s important to note that not all solutions are on a level playing field.
Just because you implement something doesn’t mean it will automatically solve all the problems and pain points you’re dealing with overnight. While some solutions help outright, you need organization-wide consensus and sign-off, from stakeholders to entry-level employees, in order for the solution to thrive and be fully accurate.
So how accurate is workflow automation?
First, let’s break down workflow automation and how it plays into your office operations, as well as any pitfalls to avoid for maximum output and accuracy.
What to Know About Workflow Automation
Simply put, automation establishes standardized processes while also eliminating the need for manual work. Nothing gets missed, because from beginning, you are able to itemize all your business processes, including which people to notify for each step of a workflow and what criteria is needed in order to complete a task.
As you’ve probably noticed, this opens the floodgates for efficiency and accuracy. Workflow software is easy to use, and it can be adjusted at any time if a process needs to be tweaked or updated. That’s the best part–having the agility as a manager to make iterative changes to processes if more efficient opportunities arise.
Here’s an example:
Danielle is the AP Manager at an HR firm. She’s responsible for making sure that all accounts payable and receivables are deposited and paid on time, respectively. The department used to have everything come in via snail mail, with employees in the department opening envelopes, sifting through mail, and distributing mail throughout the firm. Then, Danielle would oversee the logging and processing of accounts. All she had at her disposal were spreadsheets, QuickBooks, and the eyes of her workers (on top of her own). At least once every month, there were accounts that fell through the cracks and weren’t paid on time.
Rather than manually scrolling through each account in a spreadsheet (which usually contain errors as it is), with workflow automation, Danielle can be immediately notified by the software if an account hasn’t paid within a certain timeframe. In this case, a step of the workflow will come to a halt and be unable to proceed. She can customize the interval; if she wants to be notified of accounts that haven’t paid yet within 5 days, this gives her the power and visibility to follow up with those clients effectively. How’s THAT for efficiency?
This is just one example of how workflow automation can provide visibility and transparency into your accounts and business as a whole. It’s versatile and works for a variety of industries based on individual needs.
Avoiding Workflow Pitfalls
Workflow automation can be a powerful asset to your department and workforce as a whole, but there are also some things you need to be aware of to mitigate any issues that can arise:
- Too many cooks in the kitchen: Whether you have workflow automation or not, spreading the approval process to more than 2-3 people can spawn a web of revisions and conflicting opinions. If you can help it, streamline the approval process by sticking to a sole person for approval, with another pair of eyes for review purposes.
- Service provider limitations: Like we mentioned before, your solution can vary greatly based on the provider you choose. Your provider is responsible for maintaining software updates and establishing a reliable connection that updates in real-time. After all, your data is invaluable, and you need to have access to it and workflow routes at all times.
- An unwillingness to change: You shouldn’t change for the sake of change, but rather for problems solved, time saved, and efficiency gained from a solution. If you input everything once, and “set it and forget it” with your workflows, you’re not setting the business up for success. Instead, you’ll lose the potential for competitive advantage and agility gained by workflow automation. At that point, why do you even have automation if you aren’t willing to update and change?
These pitfalls CAN and WILL impact the accuracy of your automation solution, so stay vigilant and watch out for them.
Stay Accurate, Friends
Like anything in life, you get what you put in. The success and accuracy of workflow automation can be seen through the combined effort of your organization. Then, and only then, will you see automation wash away the stress and workload that you experience on a daily basis (but don’t worry, the relief is there and waiting to help!).
Are you ready to learn more about workflow automation and its time-saving capabilities? We invite you to check out our automation page, or schedule a custom demo to take the plunge.