26/01/2024 |

Workflow automation – definition, advantages and tips

Automated workflows have considerable benefits for companies. They bring more security to processes and create much-needed freedom for employees and the customer. By achieving more in less time, productivity increases.

Definition: What is workflow automation?

Workflow automation refers to the use of technologies, systems and tools to make tasks and business processes flow independently through an organized sequence of steps. Automation can manage the entire workflow or only individual steps.

The objective is to reduce errors and monotonous tasks. In these ways, companies can save time, operate more efficiently and increase productivity.

Workflow automation is not intended to make workers redundant, but rather to simplify processes, ensure quality and create important freedom:

  1. The results when you automate a workflow are more precise than those of manually done work.
  2. Employees have more time for fulfilling, value-added and creative work.
  3. Companies save money thanks to optimized business processes.
  4. Customers can get help more quickly.

When you automate tasks, it is not a threat to jobs: it is an opportunity for employees, teams, customers and companies.

The advantages of workflow automation

When you automate workflows, there are a wealth of benefits. These vary depend somewhat on the industry and the specific team in which they are used. Nevertheless, some points apply universally.

The following is an overview of the most important benefits of automated workflows.

1. Tedious manual tasks are eliminated

Repetitive and monotonous work has several disadvantages:

  • It takes the focus away from “more important” tasks.
  • It demotivates employees.
  • It may frustrate the customer.

When companies automate such tasks, they solve all of these problems. By spending less time on tedious manual processes, unnecessary burdens are reduced. This, in turn, opens up new opportunities.

2. Higher productivity and added value

With automated workflows, the focus is increasingly on the quality of work. The quantity is covered by the automation itself, which brings consistency and saves people work steps. This enables more productive and concentrated work on processes that cannot be automated.

All in all, this means that more real added value is created. Everyone involved can focus more sharply on what really drives their company forward. This opens up new paths and is therefore a real competitive advantage.

3. Fewer human errors

Errors are normal to a certain extent, but they are often avoidable. When you automate a workflow, there is much less opportunity for them to creep in. As certain processes run by themselves, there is less chance of things going wrong.

  • “Standard tasks” run smoothly.
  • Defined work steps simplify complex processes.
  • Automated tasks are completed reliably.
  • Data entry and copy/paste work are reduced.

4. Better time management

We do not necessarily associate workflow management with time management. However, automation has a direct impact on the time budget. For example, a common problem is that employees cannot devote enough attention to their actual core tasks.

The main advantage of automation is that they have more free capacity to use:

  • The time budget increases.
  • Scope is created.
  • More management is possible.

In short: every automated workflow saves time, which is then available for other tasks.

5. Happier employees

Employees are happy when they can use their skills adequately and are not overloaded with time. Too many mundane tasks have exactly the opposite effect. If these are now eliminated through automated business processes, employees are consequently happier.

In short: automation increases employee loyalty - an immensely important factor on the labor market.

6. More satisfied customers

Customers – particularly those who are reaching out for help – do not want to wait. Automation helps make interaction with your customer smoother by acting as a quick, decisive and accurate means of transferring information between the customer and agent. 

Workflow automation in different departments

Workflow management software opens up new possibilities for different departments. Depending on the respective requirements, workflow automation is different – and delivers different benefits.


Nowadays, the IT infrastructure is extremely important for companies to work smoothly and be competitive. IT teams are responsible for providing users and customers with the best possible support. Incident management, for example, is a workflow that is becoming increasingly important for IT infrastructure and corporate security. Automated workflows ensure that companies can react quickly and efficiently to incidents.


Sales can benefit from workflow automation in a variety of ways. For example, leads can be qualified automatically. Automated emails for follow-up as well as notifications and reminders are also good options. Sales teams can also establish consistent information flows by automatically receiving data from a CRM system.


There are numerous options for marketing to use automated workflows in a targeted manner. Typical examples are email marketing software or social media planning. Automated lead generation and lead scoring are also extremely important. Other possibilities include A/B testing, personalized content and content management.

Customer service

Customer service is an area in which workflow automation pays off handsomely. This is because it is particularly important to work efficiently and have information available quickly. For example, software can structure support requests and customer communication. CRM software and customer databases can also be connected here and resources can be planned automatically.

Human resources

Automated workflows can prove to be a real boon for HR departments. The following areas should be highlighted:

  • Applicant management
  • Onboarding workflow
  • Vacation and absence management
  • Training and further education
  • Internal communication

Overall, Human Resources can automate a large range of their tasks in order to improve its own work, operate more efficiently and increase employee satisfaction.

Tips and steps for workflow automation

Creating automation should be clearly thought through:

  • Not every workflow is suitable for this, as regularity and repeatability are required.
  • The workflow should be clear and rule-based.
  • There must be a resulting benefit in doing so.
Ideally, workflows are already perfectly set up before a company automates them.

With solid preparatory work, workflow automation pays for itself after a short time. The following steps are highly beneficial.

1. Conduct an analysis and set clear goals

First of all, it should be clear exactly what users and stakeholders expect from automation. Ideally, an overview is created in which the relevant areas, benefit factors and goals are clearly recorded: Where can a team benefit and how – and how can this be measured? With certain tools, workflows can be outlined and thus better planned.

2. Select workflows and suitable tools

The next step is to select the appropriate workflows and suitable tools. Automation software should also be a good fit for the respective workflows. For example, a dedicated ITSM solution makes the most sense for IT-related processes.

Tip: Low-code or no-code software is recommended so that changes can be made easily. This allows you to create automations independently – even without extensive programming knowledge.

3. Train employees

The advantages of workflow automation are limited if employees cannot benefit sufficiently from it. Anyone investing in a software solution should also consider training and education. In the best case scenario, employees will be able to create automated workflows on their own that are highly useful and practicable.

4. Monitoring and optimization

An automated process should be monitored in order to identify potential problems at an early stage. A few simple measures are often enough to check that everything is running smoothly. The focus here is on ensuring that the automation is fulfilling its purpose. Regular optimizations are also recommended to ensure that workflow automation meets current requirements.

5. Observe compliance

We also encounter legal regulations and compliance requirements in workflow automation. Users should therefore ensure from the outset that all requirements are met. Once problems arise, it is usually too late.

Interrelationships of workflow automation

Workflow automation has a number of close links with other relevant areas. Here are the most important ones.

Business Process Management Software (BPMS)

Workflow automation and process management, also known as business process management (BPM), are directly related. Workflows are used to ensure that processes run smoothly and efficiently. Ideally, process management software (BPMS) is used to automate business processes, among other things. Workflows and work steps play an important role in this.

Robotic process automation (RPA)

This process is highly relevant for automated work steps. Here, software robots (bots) take over rule-based activities that are repetitive and usually time-consuming. A workflow can be part of such process automation.

Workflow automation and information management

It’s a fairly simple connection: information management aims to ensure that the right people have correct and complete information at the right time. Workflow automation helps to ensure that these steps are actually carried out without errors.

Conclusion: automation makes things easier

Automated workflows bring companies many advantages. Fewer errors, more time for real added value and higher productivity are promising. There are positive effects in a wide variety of departments – most clearly in HR, customer service and IT.

Before implementation and software selection, a clear benefit for automation should be identified. It not an end in itself, but a simplification for your business: Automate once you have rallied the business about the benefits that will be reached.

Consider each workflow and how each team will be impacted. Document this and gain buy-in from all stakeholders. Finally, seek out suitable software solutions that employees can use adequately and which offer the chance for training and support as your business seeks to automate other areas of the company.

Find out how OTRS software can support your workflow management and automation efforts.

Contact our experts

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