Workflow is comprised of the stages that a business or employee goes through in order to provide a product or service to its customers. An automated workflow is when these stages are aided by computers or other machines. In order to automate the workflow process, one first has to break down the steps involved in the process. After the business has a firm grasp on each step of the workflow process, creating an automated workflow involves inputting the workflow process into workflow management software, which then automates the process.
The primary benefits of automated workflow are that it saves work time for employees and therefore saves the company money. Automated workflow software has reporting capabilities, so a company can identify when it needs additional staff members to handle the workload or when the business has more staff members than it does work for them to do. Automated workflow eliminates the manual processes of inputting data or handing off a file to the next person who needs to work on the file. Instead, after the first task is complete, automated workflow systems alert the next person of the next task, and everyone involved in the process has access to the same information.
One example of an automated workflow in use is that of a hospital. With automated workflow, when a receptionist checks a patient into the system in the waiting room, the nurse receives an alert on the computer that a patient is waiting and in which room. After the nurse gathers information from the patient and inputs it into the computer, the doctor receives an alert about the patient and in which room the patient is waiting. When the nurse and doctor enter information, automated workflow generates the information back to the receptionist, who is managing the patient load.
In this example, automated workflow saves the staff from inputting patient data into the computer system or patient file multiple times — when the receptionist checks in the patient, when the nurse sees the patient and again when the doctor sees the patient. This reduces patient waiting times, because after the receptionist enters patient information upon check-in, the information automatically pushes to the nurse’s computer and again on to the doctor after the nurse inputs any additional information about the patient. This automated workflow provides the hospital with greater efficiency and ultimately allows it to provide better care for patients.