Is your finance team tethered to an endless supply of spreadsheets? Are steps frequently missed within the billing and payment processes? Are you hiring additional resources to handle the financial close process? Do you struggle with invoice errors that are dipping into your profits. Is adherence to regulations like ASC 606 or IFRS 15 causing additional and repetitive work for your financial team? Are you seeing a rise in employee resignations? Has securing customer data become a game of chance? If so, workflow automation software and business process management (BPM) can help.
Workflow vs. BPM: What’s the Difference?
While workflow and BPM share some similarities, workflow is considered a component of BPM. According to Wikipedia, workflow consists of an orchestrated and repeatable pattern of business activity enabled by the systematic organization of resources into processes that transform materials, provide services, or process information. In other words, workflow consists of a series of activities that flow from one person to another to complete a task.
BPM, on the other hand, is a broad and dynamic discipline that can consist of multiple workflows. TechTarget defines BPM as a structured approach to improving the process organizations use to get work done, serve their customers, and generate business value. More to the point, a business process is an activity or set of activities that helps accomplish organizational goals.
Although both workflow and BPM optimize and streamline tasks there are three key differences.
- Workflow focuses on a single task, whereas BMP encompasses the entire business process
- BPM is centered on report generation and analytics rather than individual goals
- Workflow is a component of BPM, but the opposite is not true
While both provide organizational benefits, the focus of this blog is on the benefits of workflow – workflow automation software to be more exact. However, if you want to read more on BPM, check out 5 Key Capabilities You Need for BPM Software.
How Workflow Automation Software Simplifies and Optimizes Business Processes
The advantages of implementing a workflow automation software solution can be found across all industries and in nearly all aspects of your business. Whether sales, marketing, manufacturing, customer service, IT system management, finance, etc., workflow automation software delivers countless benefits.
With workflow automation software you can:
1) Reduce redundant manual tasks
Manual processes are expensive in terms of both time and labor. In fact, a survey conducted by IT Chronicles determined that, on a global basis, repetitive manual tasks cost businesses a whopping $5 trillion per year. When combined with the increase in human errors, reduced productivity, compliance risks, and increased staffing needs/labor costs it’s easy to see how manually handling repetitive tasks can quickly eat away at your budget and profitability.
2) Decrease errors
While operating with no errors may be a pipedream, workflow automation software can significantly decrease the number of errors. And when an error happens, the software helps pinpoint the exact location so you can make the necessary changes to ensure that error doesn’t happen again.
3) Improve productivity
Since workflow automation software enables tasks to be completed without human intervention, your staff has the time to handle more high-value and engaging activities. Equally important, if a step is missed in the process, workflow aids in identifying the step that needs completion before the process can continue.
4) Adhere to revenue recognition standards
Non-compliance to revenue recognition rules like ASC 606 and IFRS 15 poses significant risk – from employee dismissal and fines to jail time. Not only will this negatively affect your brand but can result in substantial penalties. With workflow automation software, the predefined flow leaves nothing to chance, ensuring that all mandatory steps are followed in the predetermined order, and nothing falls through the cracks.
5) Streamline approval processes
Handling approval processes manually is time consuming. Many times it also results in bottlenecks that delay the process. The logic within workflow automation software enables you to automatically route, notify, and acquire signatures in a predetermined flow.
6) Improve decision making
Are you still digging through reports to get the data required to make business decisions, understand customer requirements, know which products and services are selling and which aren’t, etc.? Workflow automation software enables you to extract information at scale seamlessly and efficiently, and translate that data into meaningful insights and actionable strategies.
7) Increase transparency
Processes aren’t handled by a single person and when handled manually they tend to be undocumented and may be a low priority for some employees. Workflow automation software provides the transparency needed for everyone involved to see where the process is in the flow. Additionally, it provides the insights needed to know where process and task delays are occurring so that you can make the necessary adjustments.
8) Enhance collaboration and employee engagement
Did you know that, at any given time, nearly half of your workforce is bored? Worse yet, boredom is actually more detrimental than burnout. One of the key reasons for work boredom, which often results in employee resignation, is doing repetitive and menial tasks. Workflow automation software handles the repetitive and tedious tasks, freeing your staff to take on more engaging activities. From a collaboration perspective, workflow streamlines processes, promoting a more collaborative and goal-driven work environment.
9) Connect people, software, and work culture
Acting as a facilitator, workflow automation software pulls data from different software apps and runs workflows between them. The data provided enables you to identify and prevent errors, improve productivity, and streamline processes. Additionally, workflow enables you to create the internal collaboration needed to achieve organizational objectives.
10) Deliver improved and consistent customer experiences
Manual processes are prone to errors and take longer to perform, which can negatively affect sales, customer service, product/service delivery, etc. Customers not only want, but increasingly demand accuracy, speed, and responsiveness. Manual processes are riddled with bottlenecks which negatively affect the customer experience. With workflow automation software you’re able to streamline processes, reduce errors, and respond faster to customers – giving you a competitive advantage.
While workflow automation software has numerous benefits (even more than the 10 above), the most significant advantage of workflow management is in providing the ability to reduce expenses.
Say Goodbye to Manual Repetitive Tasks and Hello to Workflow Automation
Regardless of the industry, your goal is to succeed and that means you need to be profitable. When manual processes result in high expenses, customer churn, and employee resignation, profitability quickly dwindles. Workflow automation software gives you the tools needed to reduce costly errors, bridge process gaps, and remove bottlenecks, enabling you to grow revenue.
Let’s look at workflow automation software from a billing perspective to see the benefits provided to your company, finance team, and customers. Businesses with complex billing scenarios undergo multiple manual steps in rating, billing, and invoicing. With BillingPlatform, you can execute complex billing tasks without manual effort. Once your business model is defined in our cloud-based solution, you can:
- Sequence and orchestrate automated workflows with just a few clicks
- Easily configure business processes for event-based triggers, such as a new customer record or other updates
- Sync information across various applications via application programming interfaces (API’s)
- Extend your automated processes to outlying systems, like your general ledger or customer relationship management (CRM) applications
BillingPlatform’s cloud-based solution offers extensive automation capabilities that increases efficiencies, improves employee morale, and enhances the customer experience. Our platform enables critical workflows to be completed through event-based triggers, giving you the flexibility needed to streamline and automate your redundant and time consuming processes. When it comes to invoices, the entire invoicing process is automated based on the criteria you define. This enables you to schedule auto-generated PDF invoices for predetermined intervals, attach related documents, and send the invoices directly to your customers – without lifting a finger.
No matter how you look at it, workflow automation software empowers you to improve productivity, automate manual processes, create repeatable processes, reduce manual errors, maximize efficiencies… and grow revenue. Take a quick guided tour of our platform for yourself to learn more.