Workflow Automation Explained: What It Is & Why It Matters

June 10, 2024

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Workflow automation is essential to driving efficiency and productivity in your workplace. 76% of businesses now use automation for standardizing or automating daily workflows, with 31% of businesses having fully automated at least one function.

Are you…

  • Feeling overwhelmed by manual and repetitive tasks that consume valuable time and resources?
  • Struggling to maintain consistency and efficiency across complex workflows?
  • Wanting to improve productivity and free up time for more strategic activities?

In this guide, we'll delve into the concept, benefits, and practical applications of workflow automation, providing you with the insights needed to enhance your business processes.

This article is for:

  • Business owners looking to streamline their operations and improve efficiency through automation.
  • Teams interested in how workflow automation can benefit their work processes.
  • Decision-makers exploring how to leverage technology for optimizing workflows.

What is Workflow Automation?

When I'm thinking about workflow automation, I see it as the use of technology to automate complex business processes. This involves the automation of tasks, information transfer, and processes across various departments and systems within an organization. If I'm looking to reduce manual intervention and streamline operations, workflow automation is the key.

Defining Workflow Automation

Workflow automation uses software to perform repetitive tasks and processes, eliminating the need for manual input. It allows businesses to create a series of automated actions triggered by specific events or conditions. For example, when a customer places an order, an automated workflow can handle everything from inventory checks to order confirmations and shipping notifications.

5 Benefits of Workflow Automation

I've always believed that the benefits of workflow automation extend beyond mere efficiency. Here are some key advantages:

Increased Efficiency

When I'm implementing workflow automation, one of the primary benefits is increased efficiency. Automated workflows handle repetitive tasks faster and more accurately than humans, reducing the time needed to complete them and minimizing errors.

Cost Savings

In my opinion, automation can lead to significant cost savings. By automating routine tasks, businesses can reduce labor costs and minimize the need for manual intervention, leading to lower operational expenses.

Improved Accuracy

For me, accuracy is crucial in business processes. Automated workflows ensure that tasks are completed consistently and accurately, reducing the risk of human error and enhancing the overall quality of work.

Enhanced Productivity

Whenever I'm looking to boost productivity, I turn to workflow automation. By freeing employees from repetitive tasks, they can focus on more strategic and value-added activities, leading to higher overall productivity.

Better Compliance

I recommend workflow automation for businesses that need to adhere to strict regulatory requirements. Automated workflows ensure that all processes are carried out consistently and in compliance with regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance.

Common Use Cases for Workflow Automation

From my perspective, workflow automation can be applied across various industries and business functions. Here are some common use cases:

Human Resources

If I'm in HR, I often use workflow automation for onboarding new employees, managing leave requests, and handling payroll processes. Automation ensures that these tasks are completed efficiently and accurately.

Finance and Accounting

In finance, I try to automate invoice processing, expense approvals, and financial reporting. This not only speeds up the processes but also reduces errors and improves financial accuracy.

Customer Service

For customer service, I usually recommend automating ticketing systems, response workflows, and customer follow-ups. This ensures timely responses and improves customer satisfaction.


In marketing, workflow automation can streamline campaign management, lead nurturing, and performance tracking. By automating these processes, marketers can focus on creating more effective strategies and content.

How To Implement Workflow Automation

I've found that implementing workflow automation requires careful planning and execution. Here are the steps I usually follow:

Step 1 - Identify Processes to Automate

When I'm starting, the first step is to identify which processes are suitable for automation. Look for repetitive, time-consuming tasks that don't require human judgment. Documenting these processes helps in understanding the workflow and identifying automation opportunities.

Step 2 - Choose The Right Tools

Next, I recommend selecting the appropriate workflow automation tools. There are numerous software options available, each with its own features and capabilities. It's essential to choose a tool that aligns with your specific needs and integrates well with your existing systems.

Step 3 - Map Out Workflows

Before automating, I like to map out the workflows in detail. This involves defining each step in the process, identifying decision points, and outlining the flow of information. Clear workflow maps serve as blueprints for automation.

Step 4 - Implement and Test

Once the workflows are mapped, it's time to implement the automation using your chosen tools. I often suggest starting with a pilot test to ensure everything works as expected. Testing helps identify any issues and refine the workflows before full-scale implementation.

Step 5 - Monitor and Optimize

After implementation, I usually monitor the automated workflows regularly to ensure they are functioning correctly. Collecting data and feedback helps in making necessary adjustments and optimizing the processes for better performance.

Best Workflow Automation Tools

In my opinion, using the right tools is crucial for successful workflow automation. Here are some top tools I recommend:


StartingPoint is an effective platform designed to streamline and automate business processes. It offers features like task automation, real-time tracking, and comprehensive analytics to help businesses optimize their workflows effectively. Sure, I’m a little biased but I've found StartingPoint particularly useful for businesses looking to enhance their efficiency and productivity.

Challenges and Considerations

Whenever I'm implementing workflow automation, I consider potential challenges and plan accordingly. Here are some common challenges and how to address them:

Resistance to Change

If I'm introducing automation, I might encounter resistance from employees accustomed to manual processes. Effective communication and training are crucial to help them understand the benefits and adapt to the new system.

Integration Issues

I often face integration challenges when automating workflows across different systems. Choosing compatible tools and working closely with IT teams can help overcome these challenges.

Initial Costs

For me, the initial costs of implementing automation can be a concern. However, the long-term benefits and cost savings usually outweigh the initial investment. It's essential to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to justify the investment.

Where Does Workflow Automation Go Next?

I believe that the future of workflow automation is bright, with advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning driving new possibilities. Automation will become more intelligent, capable of handling complex decision-making and adapting to changing business needs. From my perspective, businesses that embrace automation will gain a competitive edge and achieve greater efficiency and productivity.

In conclusion, workflow automation is a powerful tool that can transform business processes and drive efficiency. When you understand its benefits, common use cases, and implementation steps, you can leverage automation to enhance productivity and stay competitive in a fast-paced market. Whenever I'm looking to optimize workflows, I turn to workflow automation as a key strategy for success.

You can begin embracing workflow automation by taking StartingPoint for a test drive for free.

Author: Ray McKenzie

Raymond (Ray) McKenzie is the Founder and Managing Director of Red Beach Advisors. With more than 20 years of experience as a senior business executive and consultant leading global organizations ranging from small businesses, startups, and large enterprises. Ray has held various senior executive positions with companies such as Verisign, Neustar, State Farm Insurance, TeleSign, UltraDNS and has served in an advisory role for several start-up companies in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. Ray McKenzie completed his studies in Management Information Systems from San Diego State University in 2001 and is a certified AWS Cloud Practitioner (CLF).

Mr. McKenzie is also a certified Lean Six Sigma sensei (CLSSS) practitioner from Villanova University, is a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) from Scrum Alliance. Mr. McKenzie currently sits on the board of trustees for Resolute Academy Charter School in Watts, CA, on the board of directors for My Friend’s House, Inc. based in Los Angeles, CA and Students With Aspiring Goals based in Merced, CA and regularly speaks to groups of children and youth regarding entrepreneurship, leadership, and achievement.