Automate Process Workflows to Improve Service
08/09/2021 |

Automate Process Workflows to Improve Service

Automate process workflows to improve service. Important tips and examples that guide help desks and service desks toward more efficiency.

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Automate process workflows so that your service teams can work faster, more cost-effectively and with fewer errors. Sounds excellent, right? But how much of a reality is this for today’s businesses?

To automate process workflows, you have to start by defining what your processes and related workflows are. By simply taking this first step, you will have the chance to spot inefficiencies and waste. Once the documentation is in place, you put business process management software to use. This software takes your tasks and moves them through your defined workflows for you. Whenever possible, the computer does the work: this means that things like copy/paste errors, delayed handling, mis-routing, etc. don’t happen anymore.

So, to answer the question . . . YES. Automating process workflows offers significant benefits to companies and organizations. And, it’s not as complicated as it may sound. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what this really means.

Are processes and workflows the same thing?

Processes and workflows are related in that they both describe how the business operates, but they aren’t the same thing.

A process outlines the way activities and tasks move through the business (or business unit) at a high level so that a service or a product can be delivered. Examples of processes would be:

  • IT process. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) suggests practices for businesses that want to provide IT services. The ITIL framework suggests that providing service requires moving from service strategy to design to transition to operation to improvement.
  • Sales and marketing processes. Here, consider how the business earns a customer. The process of customer acquisition might include lead acquisition, qualification, presentation, proposal, sale, referrals/follow up.
  • HR processes. HR teams have a new employee process. This might be something like recruitment, selection, hiring, on-boarding, and evaluation. ITILv4 also covers this through Workforce and Talent Management practice.

Processes tell you what the approach is for achieving an operational goal; workflows outline the way in which the tasks needed to accomplish these goals get done.

Processes tell you what the approach is for achieving an operational goal; workflows outline the way in which the tasks needed to accomplish these goals get done.

Workflows define a series of sequential activities that must be done in order to complete a specific task. A workflow has a starting activity – a request, a need, something that has to get done. It has repeatable steps that have to take place in a certain order to get the work done. And, it ends with the task being completed. Thinking on the above process examples, related workflow examples could be:

  • IT workflows might include providing a new laptop, procuring software or coordinating A/V for an event.
  • Sales and marketing workflows might include developing an ad campaign, creating a sales proposal or entering an order.
  • HR workflows might include posting a job, coordinating training or conducting a review.

So, what does it mean to automate processes?

As mentioned above, automating your processes is about bringing them to life with the use of technology. More likely, you’re automating workflows; however, since workflows are the tasks that support your processes, the more workflows you automation, the closer you’ll get to having your processes fully automated.

The central point is your business process management software. Since a workflow is all about moving a task from its beginning to completion, the software uses work management tools (such as ticketing, calendaring, knowledge base, resource management, CMDB) to document and track the task as its being done.

Business process management software combines these tools with a process management engine. In process management, you add your previously-documented workflows. The software will then follow this workflow for you. And, there are many options here, such as having the workflow automatically:

  • Create a new ticket or other business object
  • Update the CMDB
  • Access or update information in other systems
  • Update status
  • Create notifications
  • Route and assign work

For the team members who are doing the work, they simply login to their dashboard. Here, they see the tasks to be done. For each task, the next required workflow step is already prepared for them. Whether they need to give their approval to a request, update a date or add notes, the teammate has all of the information needed in one place; it’s clear, quick and simple to complete their portion of the task…and then the process management engine takes over again, moving the work on to the next step.

Automate process workflows to improve service. Here are 27 ideas…

Is there an area of your business in which service needs to be improved? An opportunity to complete a workflow faster, easier and more cost-effectively by using technology as an aid? How about one of these . . .

  1. Requesting vacation time
  2. Ordering a new laptop, spare parts, etc.
  3. Coordinating room setup for a meeting
  4. Developing promotional content
  5. Creating a sales proposal
  6. Onboarding a new customer
  7. Coordinating a training class
  8. Handling IT or customer service requests
  9. Facilitating hand-over tasks for shift changes
  10. Managing refund requests
  11. Selecting vendors
  12. Onboarding an employee
  13. Approving new projects
  14. Preparing for a tradeshow
  15. Brewing coffee
  16. Coordinating consulting services
  17. Handling security events and incidents
  18. Exchanging knowledge
  19. Ordering business cards
  20. Completing building repair requests
  21. Processing expenses
  22. Returning a vehicle to the fleet
  23. Coordinating business travel
  24. Gathering customer input
  25. Conducting quality assurance tests
  26. Creating a new webpage
  27. Managing invoices

Businesses are built on hundreds of processes and workflows. So, this is a small sampling of what can be accomplished by companies that want to incorporate business process automation and improve their services.

Think about your own business. How clearly outlined are your overall business processes? Do your teams have documented workflows to follow when it’s time to handle repeatable tasks? Are you ready to start saving time and money, while avoiding mistakes, by looking into automating your own processes and workflows?

Get in touch today to learn how OTRS solutions can help.

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Photos: Eluj via Pixabay

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