5 Ways Workflow Automation Helps Growth-Stage Businesses Scale Operations

Luke Walker
January 15, 2021

Managing a business’s core operations is hard, time-consuming work.

It isn’t enough just to have a dedicated operations team. An operations team also needs the right tools and support to ensure that core processes run smoothly – the revenue-generating capacity of the business depends on it. 

This is where the importance of workflow automation comes in.

According to Deloitte, 73% of businesses have begun incorporating automation software into their operations. Of those businesses, the majority plan to scale up their usage of automation, from 13% to 51% of their total operations processes.

This is a massive increase in automation within a considerably short amount of time. And it points toward an industry-wide shift in the way that organizations think about running core operations, and what’s now possible within the scope of automation.

Turning to fast-growing businesses, the upward trajectory of business growth always outpaces the scaling of operations infrastructure. Instead of scrambling behind the curve to reinvent processes as the business grows, operations can turn to process automation to handle the increased volume, and maintain both high-quality and velocity. 

With that, here are 5 ways process automation tools help businesses to scale operations. 

1. Improve accountability and transparency

Automation software can improve your team’s sense of accountability, and overall process transparency.

To start, automating processes results in the standardization. That means, processes which were loosely managed over email and other coordination tools are now digitized, structured, and clearly visible for every stakeholder.

As a result, teams and stakeholders are enabled (and encouraged) to claim full ownership of their role in the operations process. The process-wide visibility ensures that they – and everyone else involved – know exactly who is supposed to be doing what, by when. 

And from the top, this allows managers to monitor process performance in real-time – there’s no need to ask for an update when process status is automatically updated.

2. Reduce overwhelm and errors

Teams have limitations, and they can break when those limitations are frequently breached.

For one, burnouts can make an employee or team more prone to making mistakes. Other factors that contribute to human errors are miscommunication, lack of clarity, overloading, and excess volumes of menial tasks, like manual data entry. 

Starting to notice a pattern? These are the same challenges facing operations teams in high-growth companies. The frequency of committing errors is simply higher when tasks are completed manually or are carried out by teams at or above maximum capacity. 

Fortunately, you can drastically reduce the incidence of error with process automation. Unlike humans, your automation software won’t get tired, and it doesn’t mind data entry and coordination. 

3. Enhance team productivity with less grunt work

Many, many operations teams plough through their work, never having the bandwidth to ask themselves if there is a better way to do it. Leveraging automation tools, your operations team can get rid of the purely administrative and repetitive tasks that eat up their working hours. 

Though this might seem like a superficial benefit, it’s actually what will enable your ops team with the time to focus on more value-adding duties – for example, improving supplier relationships, focusing on customer success, and (not least of all) improving or scaling their processes

For one example, your team can seriously reduce or eliminate manual data entry. There are both productivity and quality benefits to having clean, auto-populated databases. And it’s a much more efficient and accurate way to produce reports, without all the manual switching between systems and spreadsheets. 

With so many workflow management software options, you can automate operations to reduce administrative and coordination costs, one process at a time.

4. Save time and costs

Several factors contribute to delay and waste of resources. This includes bottlenecks in your workflows, miscommunication, excess workload, and manual data entry. If your operations team is suffering from one or two of these, it is high time you start using automation tools for their processes.

One of the foremost benefits of process automation is resource savings. By allocating a process step to automation, you save the step equivalent in both human resource time and cost. Here are some examples of process automation that significantly drive down resource consumption:

1. Import and export files automatically, instead of manually searching for the right files, loading and uploading, etc.

2. Notify team members automatically of any process updates or changes, instead of sending an email or holding a meeting about it

3. Collaborate and integrate with external stakeholders and their systems, instead of having to communicate with them separately, and manually transfer data between systems

5. Streamline communications

Your operations team has to deal with most other departments within the organization. Many of their core processes intersect with – and even depend on – other teams. This can be challenging to manage, especially when the standard communication of operations departments lives exclusively in email threads and chat messages.

Fortunately, process automation software ensures that each individual involved in a given process remains connected, and that ownership, goals, and deadlines are aligned across teams and members.

You can also use automation to track progress and update team members and stakeholders on statuses, replacing the no-value-added status update meeting. If there are any adjustments or changes made, these will be shared in real-time. One less layer of grunt work, and more operations capacity added.

A chance for growth

Your operations team plays a crucial role in making sure that your organization’s most important processes run smoothly.

Keeping track of every process is challenging and time-consuming, and operations needs more firepower than email and spreadsheets to handle it all if your organization hopes to grow. 

Fortunately, process automation tools are becoming increasingly accessible for businesses both large and small. With the help of automation, your core operations won’t break at the seams as the business grows. 


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About the author
Luke Walker is the Product Marketing Manager at Next Matter. He is a longtime process hacker, and writes about marketing, business digitization, leadership, and work-life balance. When he's not at work, you can find him listening to records or climbing rocks.

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