Workflow automation, which sometimes gets referred to as process automation, replaces manual labour with software-driven intelligence to execute repetitive tasks with greater speed, enhanced accuracy, and increased employee efficiency – as part of a larger effort to reduce expenses and increase overall productivity.

Workflow automation systems are everywhere today

Organizations across all industries are embracing workflow automation – especially in today’s hybrid work where employees, customers, and vendors work remotely and often connect digitally.
Gone are the days of handing a file to a co-worker in a cubicle nearby. With the arrival of the hybrid workplace, chances are your co-workers are miles away or across the country working from their home office.
Automated workflows can ensure information is secured, immediately accessible, and editable by all members of the team, wherever they work. In the healthcare industry, for example, the act of calling or faxing in a prescription on behalf of a patient seems like a mundane task, until you consider that the staff has to do the same task multiple times a day and for a multitude of patients potentially using any pharmacy in the area code – without error.
Or think about more labour-intensive repetitive tasks like on-boarding new employees, creating IT troubleshooting tickets, generating invoices, printing insurance claim packages, or scanning mountains of employee expense documents into an indexable document management system.
The critical information contained in these operations must be communicated in a timely – and trackable – manner with 100 per cent accuracy in content and recipient. The tracking is not about micromanaging the process, but rather ensuring accountability and compliance while delivering the best possible experience for customers, employees and end-users.
Just think about the implications of the wrong prescription being delivered to the wrong patient, or confidential financial information being sent to the wrong client. Data security and compliance concerns are just as big of an issue as the disruption (and embarrassment) of miscommunicated information.
The benefits of workflow automation become clear – it eliminates human error, backlogs, and delays caused by overwhelmed employees, distractions, or emergencies, while improving data security, compliance, and reducing costs. 

Workflow Automation Software

Workflow automation software weaves together a series of software-defined actions into a larger, more complex workflow that is executed with limited human intervention.
Many applications feature pre-built workflow automation modules and applets that can be linked using a simple drag-and-drop interface. For example, users can route scanned hardcopy documents or create paperless files, auto-populate form fields, or trigger billing actions when an order is placed on the website. Developers can easily build customized workflows scripting original code actions to create proprietary solutions that automate nearly any task.
To continue the prescription fulfillment example, the proper drug and dosing information can be automatically routed to the patient’s preferred pharmacy upon entering the data into the patient’s electronic health record (EHR). The paperless workflows allow the staff to focus on the next patient, knowing the prescription will be properly filled while simultaneously storing patient data in the right place, in the right format, with the right file name, without delay and at the push of a button.
Or perhaps a manufacturing company has partners and clients who use a variety of file formats and sharing systems. Some workflow automation software can automatically copy and convert files uploaded to Google Drive to appropriate folders in OneDrive or Dropbox for everyone to access using their preferred platform.
With workflow automation software, you can find a solution for almost any workflow or process. The challenge is finding the right one for you.

Choosing the best workflow automation solution

For example, do you go with a simple yet customizable workflow solution like Smart Integration to convert paper into digital workflows?
Many companies are turning to document management systems like DocuWare or eForms Manager for centralized, secured content management with built-in workflows.
When looking for a document management solution that is the right fit for your business needs, questions to consider include:
 – Do you have the resources to manage the application?
 – How will it scale with your business needs as you grow?
 – Is there expertise available to ensure you get the most out of the tool?
Often, organizations looking at employing workflow automation solutions find working with a trusted partner can help a lot.
 An experienced workflow automation partner who knows your industry can help guide your journey in finding the best solution for your business – and Ricoh can help. Whether it’s streamlining digital workflows for your finance, HR or IT departments, our people can help. Discover solutions to help you and your team to work better, faster and more securely. Find out more about Ricoh’s business process management solutions today.