What is workflow automation?

Sometimes called robotic process automation, an automated workflow refers to a collection of software tools programmed to execute manual tasks in real time to streamline work processes. Whether for business processes or personal use, workflow automation helps you to save time from involved manual processes or customised, infrequent tasks with the execution of assignments according to your specific business rules.

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The benefits of automated workflow processes.

Besides being a more accurate and efficient method to tackle repetitive tasks like data entry, workflow automation has numerous advantages over traditional processes. Business process automations reduce bottlenecks and human error in a workflow and can also boost productivity.

Workflow automation can also provide a level of transparency and visibility to stakeholders while being more cost friendly. And since a workflow automation tool can be adjusted whenever needed, it also offers immense scalability to meet your particular needs.

Why workflow automation is important.

If you need more time to focus on tasks that require a personal touch, workflow automation tools can give time back to you. They allow you to work faster, whether you work for yourself or in an organisation with team members like a company’s human resources department.

Create your own online forms and contracts from various templates or transform existing Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Excel sheets into editable PDFs that can be sent and signed electronically in a few clicks of a button with Adobe Acrobat.

Two graphics: Adding text to a document on a laptop computer; Signing a document on a laptop computer

5 signs you need workflow automation software.

For some, manual tasks present no problem. But if you or your organisation experience any of the following issues, an automated workflow can help to put you on the right track.

1. Specific steps in the workflow process continuously get skipped.

If you find yourself unable to remember the particular sequence of steps of a task, your work can be stopped in its tracks. Workflow automation software can prevent that from happening and ensure that your manual processes never miss a beat.

2. Lack of communication between parties involved.

Regardless of industry, open and honest communication between all parties you do business with is essential. Without automated workflow management tools, the opportunities for miscommunication due to human error increase.

3. No accountability in the process.

Without proper systems in place, disorganisation happens easily and it becomes hard to know who is responsible for what. Robotic process automation lets you and your team members know who has a hand in the business workflow and, if any problem arises, where the slack needs to be picked up.

4. Inability to track tasks.

You’re likely required to multitask every day, but you can only remember so much. One of the benefits of workflow automation is a visual breakdown of the status of the tasks that still need to be completed along with the progress made so far.

5. No performance metrics.

Effective systems need constant evaluation to yield satisfactory results. Workflow automation software makes it easy to review best practices and follow up on problem areas.

Two graphics: Adding text to a document on a laptop computer; Signing a document on a laptop computer

Workflow management in action.

Known for its clean energy production, with more than 90% of its supply being carbon dioxide-free, Électricité de France (EDF) wanted to “go green” in its offices. The best way to do that was to go paperless with an automated workflow for documents.

Before EDF adopted Adobe Acrobat Pro and the Acrobat Sign workflow automation tools, the company received only about 50% of the documents it sent for signature back, in an average of 16 days. With automated processes in place, EDF can process orders in 16 hours instead of days and place more than 2,500 orders annually, with fewer bottlenecks in between.

“In terms of paper, stamps, envelopes and human resources, we estimate that we’ve saved more than €64,000 and 30,000 pages since the project was commissioned, which translates into €16 saved per order,” says Thierry Belloeil, EDF primary purchasing coordinator.

At Novozymes in Denmark, automated workflows are how the world’s largest enzyme producer keeps it all straight. This new business workflow automation helped the legal department keep its contracts confidential. For human resources, it reduced onboarding time for new employees by 93%. To date, more than 1,400 workflows have been completed, with more to follow.

If you spot any of the five signs that you need workflow automation software, Adobe can help your organisation too.