Posted in Workflow Automation

The Ultimate Guide on How to Automate a Process

Business processes are like blueprints – they are the mechanism by which organizations achieve consistent and repeatable outcomes. Well-defined and optimized business processes are important to attaining operational excellence.

It’s no secret that automation can improve business process efficiency and effectiveness by speeding up operations, cutting back on costs, and reducing errors.

But where do you start when it comes to automating the processes within your business?

Read on for a guide on how to automate various processes within your company for maximum efficiency.

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Why Automate Your Processes?

Let’s not sugarcoat it. Manual processing is inefficient and ineffective.

Not only are manual workflows slow and labor-heavy, but they’re also prone to error. These mistakes don’t just delay processes further — they often end in poor process outcomes.

What’s more, it’s hard to scale manual processes without significantly increasing your staffing budget. Even when you do employ more staff, you’ll need to deal with the increase of errors that come with more manual processing.

By automating your processes, you tackle these issues head-on.

Automated processes are faster and more accurate, making them cheaper and easier to scale.

42% of business leaders agree that automated processing means faster task completion, and almost a third agree that it cuts back on labor costs.

Plus, half of business leaders and employees agree that automated processes have fewer errors.

That’s why Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America (PMMA) automated its onboarding process.

Previously, the healthcare company had been using manual onboarding processes. 

However, the new hire package had grown to include 30–40 forms. 

Not only did this take each employee a long time to fill out, but it was also extremely stressful for the HR department, which had to process more than 1,200 new hires each year.

Lots of data was entered wrong, and the system was full of errors, duplicate records, and accidental omissions.

By switching to frevvo’s workflow automation software, PMMA solved these problems.

The tool automatically generates customized forms which auto-populate to speed up data entry. Each form also auto-validates so no incorrect information slips through the cracks.

Thanks to automatic routing, the approval process is far quicker, while integration with HR systems means all records are kept complete and up-to-date.

How to Automate Your Business Processes

When switching to automated business processes, it’s smart to start with one area of your business and scale-up. You’ll find that you can automate all kinds of workflows in your organization, so make sure you prioritize.

Here’s how you can automate the different processes in your business using frevvo.

1. How To Automate Your Purchase Orders

70% of procurement departments are switching out manual processes to streamline procurement for better performance, lower operating costs, and higher efficiency.

Not only are automatic procurement processes faster, but you’ll also experience fewer delays caused by inaccuracies. 

One part of the procurement process that’s ripe for automation is the purchase order workflow.

This is easy with procurement automation software like frevvo.

First, you select a pre-built purchase order template from frevvo’s library.

purchase order workflow templates on frevvo

Next, you edit the workflow to route your purchase order through the correct approvers. Approvers will be automatically notified when an approval is needed. 

purchase order workflow on frevvo

You can assign each stage by role or by individual. You can also adjust the conditional amount and add or remove steps.

Next, you digitize your purchase order forms using the dynamic form builder. Easily edit the purchase order form template using the drag-and-drop editor.

frevvo drag and drop form builder

Customize the form with your company logo, add or remove sections, and write specific instructions to guide users through the form.

If you connect your SQL database with the Database Connector, your digital forms can automatically populate with relevant information to reduce data entry. 

Next, generate dynamic PDFs from your forms or add your own PDF templates. PDFs can be sent to suppliers automatically and stored on your systems for up-to-date record-keeping.

Lastly, integrate your frevvo with your record-keeping systems to automatically upload all data and guarantee a complete audit trail.

Look at how Central Wyoming College (CWC) automated procurement.

When the college used manual processes for purchase orders, the staff spent hours on tedious paperwork.

Not only were there lots of mistakes that delayed the process, but staff would often have to chase approvers to speed along the process.

Using frevvo, CWC switched to automated purchasing processes.

Now, purchase orders auto-validate so there are no more mistakes in the paperwork. The forms auto-populate so data entry takes up less time.

Plus, CWC’s complex conditional routing means staff no longer spend hours chasing approvals.

2. How To Automate Onboarding Documentation

A third of senior HR staff claim they’re invested in creating better candidate experiences for new hires.

The problem is that manual onboarding processes are super inefficient, providing a poor experience to new employees.

End-to-end automation can help iron out efficiencies in the process to improve the onboarding workflow for both new hires and HR staff.

First, automate your new hire packages with an automated employee onboarding software like frevvo.

Select a new hire onboarding workflow template in the frevvo library.

employee onboarding templates on frevvo

Next, design your onboarding workflow to route your new hire through all the different forms that need to be completed and then route these forms to the HR department for review.

onboarding workflow on frevvo

At the next stage, use the form builder to customize onboarding forms by adding relevant sections and editing form instructions.

frevvo dynamic form builder

Rather than presenting new hires with reams of repetitive forms, digital new-hire forms will auto-populate so that new employees only have to fill in their data once. 

New-hire forms will also auto-validate so that no incorrect information gets sent on. This reduces data entry and cuts back on extra document checks.

At this stage, you can automatically generate PDFs such as W-4 and I-9 forms.

Make sure to connect your HR systems directly so that all employee records are kept up-to-date and compliant.

This is how Yves Rocher sped up its onboarding process.

Previously, its manual onboarding process was so inefficient that employees would often start work without uniforms and payroll having been processed.

Outdated forms and missing information caused huge delays in processing.

Following the implementation of frevvo, everything changed.

Thanks to auto-populated and auto-validated forms, new hire packages are now much quicker to fill in, and mistakes no longer delay the process.

3. How To Automate Sales Orders

Over half of businesses claim that automating sales and marketing tasks increases conversions. 

This is because speedier sales cycles and easier purchasing processes provide a better customer experience, increasing their chances of buying.

Right now, 36% of companies generate sales quotations using automation. But that’s not all you can do with sales automation software.

Using a sales order automation software like frevvo, you can digitize and automate sales forms.

sales order workflow templates on frevvo

Choose a pre-built sales order workflow template from frevvo’s library.

Create a dynamic sales workflow that routes sales order forms through the correct approvers and straight to the client who can authorize it electronically.

sales approval workflow on frevvo

Connect your SQL database to frevvo and create digital customer sales order forms that auto-populate and auto-validate. That way, it’s quicker to fill in forms, and you won’t have to backtrack to remedy incorrect information.

Build in business rule calculations that provide customers with accurate on-the-spot sales quotes. You can then offer accurate pricing right from the start.

business rules on frevvo

Integrate frevvo with your record-keeping systems to automatically file copies of all sales orders for a full, complete audit trail.

By automating sales processes, Activ8 significantly improved its sales workflow.

Previously, sales and installation teams would visit customers to measure up. They’d leave the site to deliver this information to the main office, drawing up quotations and emailing them back to the customer.

Not only were there lots of mistakes in the data and lost paperwork, but the slow process also gave the customer lots of time to change their mind on the sale.

Now, Activ8 uses frevvo.

An automatic quotation calculator gives customers instant quotes so sales order forms can be completed and automatically validated on-site.

Customers are able to pay instantly, and all confirmation paperwork is automatically forwarded to them and the sales office immediately upon finalization.

The automated process is far smoother, meaning happier customers and more sales.

4. How To Automate Budget Approvals

Manual financial processes are problematic. Errors in the data lead to compliance issues. Delays lead to late payments.

With automatic workflow software, you can automate financial processes such as invoicing, budgeting, and expenses. 

Take budget approvals, for example.

To create a budget approval workflow on frevvo, you simply follow the instructions on the simple-to-use workflow builder.

wizard to build a new workflow on frevvo

First, create a new workflow and add in the steps the budget will route through for approval and on to the finance department so to release funds.

Next, use the dynamic form builder to create a digital form for budget requests so that each department can submit its request to managers online. Create business rules that automatically calculate the budgets within the form.

Integrate accounting software so that all records are kept up-to-date automatically, and staff members can track budgets.

This is how Uncommon Schools managed to streamline its technology budget.

Previously, school leaders had to submit budgets using paper processes, which took a long time to approve.

Thanks to frevvo, school leaders can now submit digital budget requests and track budgets to see any changes as they go.

As Guy Weisenbach, Director of IT explains, “Based on last year’s estimates, we’ll save around 60 hours over three months just in this one area.”

5. How To Automate Staff Requests

The HR department deals with all staffing schedules, travel requests, leave approvals, performance reviews, compensation, and so on.

Automating these processes makes it easier to get more done at once. It does this by cutting out a lot of the menial, repetitive tasks.

Let’s take travel requests, for example.

First, install a pre-built travel request template from frevvo’s library.

travel request workflow templates on frevvo

Build a workflow that automatically routes completed forms to the correct approvers. Route the forms to the appropriate departments, such as the financial department, to release expenses or the travel desk to organize travel arrangements.

Diagram of frevvo's travel request workflow

Customize your travel request forms using the drag-and-drop form editor. Build business rules that automatically calculate amounts, set limits, and show relevant data at each stage of the process.

travel request form by frevvo

Integrate frevvo with your HR software to automatically upload travel requests to your HR systems to keep an up-to-date audit trail.

Automation was the ideal solution for OSRAM’s HR department.

This lighting manufacturer works on a global scale, so it needed a system where employees could submit HR forms from anywhere. Equally, these forms needed to be approved by supervisors all over the world.

Turning to frevvo, OSRAM’s HR department now automates shift schedule forms, travel and expense requests, and hourly compensation workflows.

Workers submit their forms remotely using frevvo’s digital forms. These forms are automatically routed to the correct supervisor for approval based on their contents.

After approval, all records are automatically updated in PeopleSoft.

6. How To Automate Approval Processes

You’ll likely have approval processes in every arm of your organization. When completed manually, approval processes are slow, since paperwork often gets waylaid, buried at the bottom of busy supervisors’ inboxes.

Automation can speed up approvals by over 90% while identifying bottlenecks in the workflows.

Let’s look at invoice approvals processes as an example.

First, you choose an invoice approval workflow template from the frevvo library.

invoice approval templates on frevvo

Customize your workflow to assign approvers and edit routing steps. Not only will forms automatically route to the right approvers, but approvers will also receive automatic notifications and reminders.

Are you worried about approvers not signing off on time? Set automatic escalations to deal with unapproved documentation that’s left pending.

frevvo's invoice approval workflow

Next, build out your digital invoice approval forms. Customize instructions, add your company logo, and edit the form using the drag-and-drop editor.

frevvo invoice approval form in the dynamic form builder

Adjust the business rules to determine the dynamic behavior of the form, such as what’s seen at each stage and any calculations that occur in the form.

Integrate your accounting software to keep an automatic audit trail.

This is how Initial Saudi Group significantly reduced delays in the contract approval process.

When contract approvals were done manually, paperwork was sent to the CFO to be signed. Then it went on to the CEO and the MD. Paperwork often got lost, and delays were frequent. The whole process took up to 10 days on average.

By switching to frevvo, Initial Saudi Group managed to shrink approval time down to six hours by routing documentation automatically.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to automate a process, it’s time to work out which workflows to prioritize.

While you can automate many of your business processes, it’s wise to start small and scale your automations based on the feedback from these workflows.

To start automating your processes, you’ll need reliable, automated workflow software like frevvo. Try frevvo’s 30-day free trial today to see just how much you’ll benefit from process automation.

Author:

Ashish Deshpande has worked in the process automation space for over 20 years. He has been instrumental in successfully deploying frevvo’s software at hundreds of organizations such as HBO, New York University, and Boston Public Schools. Ashish has contributed to leading publications such as Forbes, business.com and readwrite.com. Ashish received a PhD in Computer Science from Yale University, and a Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India.