What is Workflow Automation With Low Code Software
Day after day, we witness automation around us in various forms – machines, robots, and software. Others have a negative view of automation because they are expensive and promotes job elimination. But lets explore what is workflow automation?
However, automation is simply a tool, and just like any tool, an activity’s success largely depends on the tool’s efficacy and the user’s ability. Automation, when properly used, increases productivity, reduces operational costs, and optimizes performance (McKinsey, 2021).
The same concept applies to digital platforms. After gathering the necessary data or information, the next concern is how to treat them as efficiently as possible. Automated workflow is the key.
- Do you want to be notified when you receive emails from a specific person?
- Or do you want a spreadsheet created instantly for people who attended your event?
- With automated workflows, there’s no limit to what you can do!
Before we dive into the different workflow automation software, let’s discuss a bit about what an automated workflow is and how it can help you and your business.
How Does an Automated Workflow Work?
To have an in-depth understanding of an automated workflow, let’s first define what a workflow is. A workflow involves an organized sequence of steps from start to finish for a specific activity. Factors such as man, method, and program, are critical to the workflow’s success.
The best way to make a workflow work is to automate it. By automating a workflow, the recipient of the information or trigger will automatically perform the action you defined beforehand. Because of lesser delays and minimal errors, this results in enhanced productivity.
So how does this automation happen? Think about the thousands of applications created in different programming languages and maintained by various developers. The answer to this is API or Application Programming Interface.
Think of API as a multilingual interpreter. When two or more people, who can only speak in their respective native tongue, engage in a conversation, it’s complete chaos. The only way for them to communicate effectively is through an interpreter adept at speaking multiple languages. That’s what an API does.
Whenever an automation software integrates itself with other platforms, the API receives the data, sends it to the other software, and returns the response to the automation software.
Now that we have a good grasp of an automated workflow, let’s take a closer on the advantages we can enjoy from them.
What Are The Benefits of Automating Business Processes?
Implementing an automated workflow pushes your business to the next level. Below are the major benefits you can reap when adopting an automated workflow:
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, at most 5% of Americans worked from home for more than three days per week1, whereas it is estimated that, by April 2020, as many as 37% of Americans were working from home (WFH) full-time from a recently published study from Nature.com.
Time is always gold and lost hours means lost sales. Sending emails and other simple tasks might only take a few minutes to finish, but when lumped together, they impractically consume a large fraction of your time.
Automating these tasks will save you a lot of time, giving employees more time to focus on weightier responsibilities. Once the system receives the appropriate trigger, the pre-determined action will already commence without hesitation, avoiding any downtime.
Elimination of redundant tasks
We often get complacent with simple repetitive tasks but it is in these activities where miscommunication and confusion happens.
Repetitive tasks take away your time and focus that ought to be devoted to more important tasks. Automated workflow systems allow you to delegate these mundane tasks so that they automatically function on their own.
This results in more efficient task management and you’ll save a lot of time because of automatic updates and notifications. Hope this helps you understand what is workflow automation.
“To err is human” is one of the most classical proverbs of all time, but it’s reality. As humans, we are all prone to error. Even if a worker has mastered a skill or process, we cannot eliminate the possibility of this person committing a mistake.
For example, if your workflow involves sending an email once you receive a trigger, there’s a tendency for that person to forget sending that email.
Furthermore, once an error occurs, it requires time, effort, and money to solve it!
When you use automated workflow systems, you remove human intervention and define the exact triggers and events, so you can prevent errors.
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Manages data easily
The leads you obtained during the data collection process must be managed by your marketing or sales team in the most efficient manner possible.
Automated platforms are always on standby and ready to receive those leads so there’s no bottleneck. Once they receive these leads, the proper mode of action will be carried out, depending on your identified action.
Provision of actionable data
An automated workflow software not only helps your team focus on more important duties. These platforms also give you valuable insights regarding performance, efficiency, issues, and other parameters.
With automatic data analytics, you can see at a glance performance metrics that help you create solutions.
The Best Automated Workflow Software
In terms of automated workflow, there is already a handful of software that can accomplish it. These intuitive applications can connect seamlessly to other platforms so you can enjoy the whole automation experience.
You can check out some of the best automation software below:
In the automation software world, it’s impossible not to come across Zapier. This software allows you to automate workflows by connecting the platforms you are using. The good news? You won’t have to do the integration yourself!
This is because Zapier can easily integrate with over 3,000 apps. Zapier lets you create automated workflows called “Zaps”, which consists of a trigger and an action. Once you activate a Zap, the application runs the corresponding action whenever triggered.
For example, Zapier can automate the sale and aftersales of an e-commerce company. You can customize a Zap wherein once your platform records the new sale, it automatically brings the information to your mailing platform, which then sends a thank-you message for ordering.
If This Then That (IFTTT)
The software got its name from a conditional statement in programming, which is basically what it does. If you want to automate different tasks in your organization, then this is a simpler alternative to Zapier.
IFTTT utilizes “applets”, which serve as the connecting medium between apps to perform automated tasks. This applet can be activated via a mobile app or IFTTT’s website.
Do you want your porch lights to light up when your food delivery is nearing? You can do it with IFTTT! This platform is an awesome automated solution in industries like Fintech, subscription services, smart home, and energy.
Microsoft Power Automate
Microsoft doesn’t get left behind, nor does its automation software. The software was originally under Microsoft 365, named Microsoft Flow as part of the Microsoft Power Automate structure. This is particularly advantageous if you are a Microsoft user because it can seamlessly link to other apps under the company.
With its ready-to-use templates, intuitive interface, and low-code programming, this is the perfect tool for beginners.
Microsoft uses three elements – Triggers, Actions, and Connections – to materialize your automated workflow. Triggers are your starting point in the workflow. Once triggered, the flow will begin, depending on what action you defined. For the third element, Connection, you have to establish your credentials on the two applications that you want to bridge.
With over 750,000 users worldwide, UiPath is renowned for its robotic workflow. UiPath creates software robots to make you more productive in your tasks.
UiPath takes advantage of the technology known as Robotic Process Automation or RPA. This innovation makes it possible to build software robots that mimic human actions, especially when using digital platforms.
If your company is looking for an automation software that’s simple, powerful, and secure, then Workato might work for you. Workato calls their sets of instructions “Workato recipes”, which manage the whole automated workflow.
Just like other automation software, each Workato recipe consists of triggers and actions. You can also set multiple actions once the conditions are met.
Building internal UIs can be cumbersome, especially for those with zero experience in programming. Retool makes it easy for companies to assemble their apps using these building blocks: Lists, Tables, Forms, Charts, Maps, Wizards, and many others.
You can do this by simply dragging the component that you want to include in your app. Retool easily integrates with any application having a RESTor GraphQL API. If you can’t find the specific database or API somehow, you can also submit a request.
The software has been trusted by prominent brands in industries such as financial services, media, retail, and e-commerce.
Used by the majority of Fortune 100 companies, Smartsheet has become a crucial tool to improve productivity and efficiency. Known for its ability to make work “dynamic”, the software enables your team to collaborate in automating workflows, managing projects, and creating solutions fast.
Smartsheet’s idea is to align all elements in the enterprise through its no-code platform. The software has templates you can try or you can customize them based on your own needs.
In Smartsheet, you can also replace manual repetitive tasks like sending notifications, requesting approvals, and assigning people to certain tasks.
Automate.io is a well-designed, feature-packed integration platform that is competitively priced. Their team offers superb technical support to its clients for their Integration as a Service (IaaS) platform.
This platform was developed in 2016 by a team of developers who, albeit new to the industry, have continuously worked hard to position themselves as one of the best options when it comes to task automation. They have built a safe and secure platform that you can use in your workflow.
Companies Enjoying The Automation Experience
Poka is a company that empowers employees of digital manufacturers to drive performance and productivity. To comply with SOC2 (an auditing procedure to ensure security), the company sought software that can support information security and compliance.
By using Zapier, Poka was able to glue all their internal tools like Google Sheets, Google Calendar, Jira, Slack, and so on. This gamechanger gave them the flexibility to set up their SOC2 controls according to their needs.
For example, to ensure that all employees have completed the security awareness training, Poka previously used a form to inquire if people have attended the said training. Zapier’s Schedule feature automatically sends a weekly message to those who have not yet completed the training.
Also, when employees requested access to SaaS apps, they only have to fill up a form. If Zapier finds this app in Google Sheet, it posts in a certain Slack channel to tag the requester and approver.
As the maker of luxury auto brands, BMW is known for its excellent products and services. In 2016, BMW announced that it would integrate IFTTT into its vehicles, which was a first in the car manufacturing industry. Other companies might have fused IFTTT into car components, but not directly into the car.
The latest BMW vehicles are already equipped with Connect Drive, the car system that provides safety, navigation, and entertainment. The good part? This system is internet-ready so works well with IFTTT recipes.
Imagine having to return home and not do anything to open your garage door? Yes, the garage door automatically opens once your car is in proximity. You can also set your lights to automatically turn on when you arrive home or even display emails directly on your BMW dashboard. With over 260 recipes available, a BMW user couldn’t ask for more!
The maker of the famous soda you and I drink has also capitalized on automated workflow software. In their case, they use Microsoft Power Automate.
In 2010, Coca-Cola introduced the Freestyle vending machine, which the company continually innovates up to this day. Their latest model features a touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity, which lets customers connect using the mobile app. Whenever they enter an outlet with a Freestyle machine, they can just connect and cue up their favorite drink.
With over 200,000 retailers and restaurants to service, Coca-Cola needed to streamline its order management. MPA made this possible.
Every time a cartridge needs replacement, a customer relationship management (CRM) agent facilitates it in an 11-step process. Having a meager output of 50 orders per agent and a pending 50,000 orders, it was a nightmare. With MPA, they were able to automate the repetitive processes involved.
Once the CRM agent enters an order into the CRM, an RPA desktop flow automatically signs in SAP, access orders in Azure SQL, and then creates a purchase order. The flow forwards the order to the supplier’s system for invoicing and monitoring.
With a global supply chain, Schneider Electric continually innovates to improve efficiency at all levels. To achieve this, the company invested in digitalization, which was a real game-changer to them. They needed to eliminate repetitive tasks that did not add value, and yet were time-consuming.
One of Schneider Electric’s operational tasks involved printing the manufacturing specifications of switchboards once received, then given to the operators. The task of preparing the documents may sound simple yet it is tedious. The company realized that they needed a breakthrough, and they saw it in UiPath.
Uipath created a robot that automatically opens the documents once received and prints them. With this RPA, they were able to free up the time of two employees who were dedicated to this job. Uipath helped the company let their employees refocus on core activities.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Workflow Automation
Choosing automation software is not simply buying groceries. You have to define first what your business needs. Afterward, investigate if your prospect software can meet those requirements. You can check the basic qualities your workflow automation software should possess:
Aside from the PC, is the program accessible through your phone or tablet? To take advantage of the software’s ability to integrate the whole process, you can explore if the workflow automation program can be implemented on the employee’s phone.
The automation workflow will defeat its purpose if it cannot create a collaboration space for the team. The software must promote connectivity among employees.
A good workflow automation application allows the transparency of tasks. Since everyone will have a good grasp of each individual’s task, they will tend to be accountable every day.
For the software to be easily accepted and used, the employees must be willing to use it. This can only happen if it is user-friendly and requires little to zero codes.
Your prospect workflow automation software must be fully customizable. In this way, the program will become an automation solution, specifically designed for your needs.