How you can get a competitive advantage through workflow automation

Creating automated workflows, instead of paying staff members to do mindless and repetitive work, can help your business work productively and free up time for innovation so you can compete more effectively.

Automated workflows reduce the risk of human error and ensure important tasks aren’t forgotten or left incomplete.

How workflow automation works

Workflow automation can be applied throughout the organisation to streamline processes and deliver efficiencies. For example, accounts payable automation includes capturing and extracting key data from invoices, matching purchase orders with invoices, managing approvals, integrating all details with the enterprise resource management (ERP) system, and finalising payments.

Six ways workflow automation can help you compete more successfully

  1. Save time. When staff members are focused on core activities and innovation instead of repetitive, administrative tasks, your business benefits from their combined effort and brainpower.
  2. Reduce errors. When people have to key in information, there is a risk of typos and other errors. Capture extraction tools such as optical character recognition (OCR) and smart software, and automated workflows reduce the risk of these errors creeping in.
  3. Leverage discounts. Most suppliers offer discounts for on-time payments. Automating workflows for processes, such as accounts payable, means you will never miss a payment or pay late, so you can take advantage of on-time discounts.
  4. Avoid duplication. Some suppliers send invoices by mail and email. Processing them manually means there can be confusion as to whether invoices have been paid. This can lead to accidental non-payment or double payments, each of which has negative consequences and distracts employees from more valuable activities. Paying on-time can reduce penalty fees or let you take advantage of early-payment discounts.
  5. Track information. Automated workflows include reporting functionality and version control that lets you see important data such as bottlenecks in the process, potential for further savings, and key performance metrics.
  6. Work efficiently. Automated workflows mean people are automatically notified when they need to step into a process, such as to provide approvals. Automated reminders mean people know what’s required, which mitigates the risk they’ll forget or overlook the action.

Research has shown that highly automated companies are six times more likely to see revenue growth of more than 15 per cent compared to companies with low automation.[1]

If you haven’t yet started to automate processes, you can start small and see the results before rolling out automation across the organisation. Workflow automation should be considered a high priority for any organisation looking to compete more effectively now and into the future.

To find out how Upstream Solutions can help you automate your workflows for better competitiveness, contact us today.