How to Start Automating Your Workflow in 6 Steps

How to start automating your workflows

Have you ever had to do something manually more than a few times?

If so, you should think about automating it. It'll save you time and money.

I don't mean to suggest that every process should be automated. Some processes are valuable precisely because they provide a personal touch or a sense of human connection. But if your business requires you to put in a lot of hours on repetitive tasks, this is probably the case for you.

As an individual, team leader, and business owner (or all of the above!) you can automate just about everything. But where should you start? And how do you know when something is worth automating? I'm here to help you identify what's worth automating, and how to go about automating it.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Workflow Automation?
  2. Steps: The Art of Making Automatic \ a. Identify \ b. Define \ c. Get Buy-in \ d. Design \ e. Build \ f. Measure
  3. Key Takeaway

What is Workflow Automation?

Simply put, it is anything that helps you automate your day-to-day tasks, shaving time on tasks. And it adds up. Up to 36 minutes every hour go to either “redundant tasks or ‘work about work’”. In the hubris of work, deadlines and responsibilities, it is often easier to stick to “how we do things around here”. Taking the time to figure out a better way to do things pays off and it pays off quickly. Read when should you consider automating your workflow?

Automating your workflows has a number of benefits:

  • Save time by reducing repetitive tasks
  • Follow a consistent process every time
  • Reduce human error
  • Streamline the process and make it more efficient

Steps: The Art of Making Automatic

Figuring out how to make a process repeatable and predictable so that you can get it done faster or spend your time on more important things is an art. But following these steps will help you get there.

1. Identify

Before you can automate anything, you need to figure out what needs automating in the first place. This means digging deep into each step of your process, identifying any bottlenecks or wasted time, and determining how best to improve efficiency.

In this blog post about how to start automating your business, we discuss talking with your employees as part of the discovery process. Apart from helping with buy-in later on, you are likely to get good input and ideas.

2. Define

When you know what you want to automate, it's time to define what the process is. It helps to draw it out on paper so you can see the steps involved. This will also help you identify any potential problems or complications and work them out before you start building.

It's important to take enough time planning and defining your process so that it works correctly from the start. You can always go back and improve your design later but if you rush through it now, you'll probably have to do it again later. And that means potentially having to lose part of the solution that’s been built

3. Get buy-in

Get buy-in from the people affected by the change— even if they don't realize they're affected yet. For bigger projects affecting others, following 4 key principles will make your digital transformation effort much more likely to succeed. 

Who are your stakeholders? Who will you need to convince for your project to be successful? This might be your employees whose workflow will change, your IT administrator who might need to approve it, or getting the approval from someone, your boss, budget approval, etc. 

A great way of getting buy-in is to show break-even calculations – when the cost of automating a workflow pays for itself, even if it’s just time spent and saved – and expected returns. Including those who this affects in various stages will help with buy-in.

4. Design

For larger projects where primarily, others are using the new workflow, ease of use will help with adoption. Design an easy way for people to use the process; include prompts and reminders where appropriate. Ideally, it should work, be intuitive, and stand on its own; they should not rely on you to know how it works. Documentation and instructions should help ensure your project has a longer-lasting impact.    

5. Build

Build it! Test it! Is it easy enough to use? Does everything work? If not, go back to step five until you have a working solution.

Well – that sounded easy. Arguably the most intimidating part of the process is actually building it. In our next post we’ll discuss what tools you can use to start automating your workflows yourself.

One of the big reasons preventing people from automating their workflows is there is just simply not enough time to stop and build it. The other is not knowing where to start or thinking that it is complicated.

You can speak to one of our experts by filling in the form below. They have created solutions for small and large projects. It is the easiest way to get a fully working automated workflow in record time.

6. Measure

Measure your results! Did you save time? Manage tasks better? Get people to do what you needed them to do? How did this help you accomplish your goal?

Once successful, it is easier to automate the next thing and get your business closer to running like a well-oiled machine.

Key takeaways

  • Making a process repeatable and predictable is an art
  • Following the above 6 steps will get you on the right path towards automating workflows in a way that work
  • Not identifying the process, its issues and bottlenecks, and not designing properly will likely see you wasting some time and resources

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