Since COVID-19, workflow automation technology adoption has accelerated in many industries. Business leaders and managers are discovering new ways to streamline business processes to empower team members to achieve their goals. 

Organizations running hybrid return-to-work arrangements have employees coming in two to five days a week. In these cases, the importance of creating business workflows and streamlining communication and collaboration between departments is paramount. 

Division and a lack of interdepartmental coordination can cause problems and waste resources. Employees may think only about solving particular issues instead of getting a complete view of their place and impact within the organization’s workflow process.

What Is Workflow Automation?

Workflow automation simply means using digital tools and software to automate repetitive tasks. Once you establish the business rules and logic of your workflow software, it can send emails, set up reminders, schedule tasks, and support human resources — all without team members raising a finger.

Small businesses can tap into this approach to workflow management and process improvement by using low-code automation platforms to serve as connectors between critical work applications and APIs. This helps automate workflows between teams, send notifications for upcoming tasks and deadlines, and eliminate manual tasks like data entry and updating databases. 

Big enterprises can go a step further and manage departmental workflows at scale, impacting key metrics such as organizational output and customer satisfaction. Enterprise workflow automation typically includes creating robust workflows that map out and optimize the entire business process and attract long-term advantages.

In both cases, workflow automation boosts individual and organizational productivity and performance. In the post-pandemic workplace, workflow automation and business process management (BPM) also facilitate contactless interactions at a time of social distancing and heightened awareness of health, safety, and hygiene.

Workflow Automation Use Cases

Workflow automation chart


Workflow automation use cases are as diverse as the industries and enterprises applying them today. Some of the most popular use cases across board include: 

  • Marketing automation: This may include scheduling posts for social media updates and collecting feedback and support requests from your CRM software using simple workflow automation tools like Zapier.
  • Customer or employee onboarding: Automated onboarding automation systems include activating an email campaign to share the necessary information for new customers or team members with triggered notifications guiding them to receive the most value from the organization's offerings. 
  • Adjusting employee workloads: Workflow automation management software helps to adjust employee workload to ensure maximum utilization of available human resources, reduced work schedule conflicts, and balanced team contributions. 

Other workflow automation use cases include:

  • COVID tracking workflow
  • Return-to-work process for injured employees
  • Incident tracking
  • Risk assessments and corrective actions
  • Purchase order approval process
  • Overtime recording and approvals

Let's take a look at each of these.

COVID Tracking Workflow

As the world recovers from the pandemic, prioritizing health, hygiene, and safety has never been more critical for the workforce. To maintain safety measures and protect employees, it has become crucial to track employees' health-related leaves of absence, testing requirements, and vaccination status to ensure everyone is safe. 

While there are no specific technologies for managing and tracking business needs relating to the pandemic, organizations can build unique solutions to track pandemic-related workforce requirements using workflow automation software like Pulpstream.

These tools would gather employee data regarding employee health statuses, pending leaves of absence, return-to-work dates, employee workloads, team shortages, and other relevant data. Workflow automation software provides templates that help collect employee information easily.

By embracing digitization and automation of COVID tracking, teams and organizations can bring structure to the unpredictable, making it easier to collect important information and forecast employee availability and output within a period. 

Organizations that embrace automation of COVID tracking workflows can collect and manage COVID-related data quickly and safely instead of tracking this essential yet confidential information in person and by hand.

Return to Work Process for Injured Employees

For businesses in construction, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and others, workplace injuries are unavoidable in the long run. Managers must learn to handle these situations quickly, helping employees get medical care and support to return to full health and productive work.

Return to work (RTW) process automation helps manage the requirements, care, and duties of affected employees by streamlining and automating the entire process to make it easier for involved parties to know what stage of the process they're at and receive what they need at the right time.

Automating RTW processes creates an efficient system. Instead of collecting data through manual processes, you skip the time-consuming tasks of collecting approvals and signatures, allow adequate permissions for each signatory, and optimize the entire RTW process to make it faster and less dependent on paperwork. Automating RTW also makes it easier to comply with RTW laws, mitigating organizational risk.

Incident Tracking

Person adding squares to flowchart of boxes

Incident tracking is a systematic process to identify, document, analyze, and address incident-related problems disrupting business operations. This includes identifying and addressing the who, what, where, when, and why of any incident.

Automating the incident management process makes it efficient and impactful for all involved parties, from collecting details needed to file a report to sharing the incident data with health and safety professionals and enabling data analysis to retrieve actionable insights and devise new preventative measures.

Incident tracking automation keeps this process simple, even when there are tasks involving managers at various levels of the organization. Automation makes it easier to care for everyone involved and achieve the best results in a short amount of time. 

Incident management workflow automation helps return the business to regular operations as quickly as possible. It helps reverse any damage done and follow best practices for communication protocols, internally and externally. 

Risk Assessments and Corrective Actions

Companies can better implement a successful risk assessment and corrective program with CAPA workflow automation. Automation makes it easier to maintain an up-to-date central repository of information accessible to all employees to keep track of guidelines and required actions.

CAPA workflow automation ensures that your organization stays proactive, not reactive, by outlining guidelines that help determine if an environment is safe for employees. Inspections and assessment conclusions are tracked and recorded to support future forecasts and decision-making. CAPA automation significantly reduces instances of non-compliance.

A well-automated CAPA process may start with inspectors filing forms to communicate the as-is status with involved project stakeholders. This information is then measured against the guidelines and project strategy to minimize human errors and keep operations moving according to plan.

The point of automating these workflows, as in other cases, is to limit bottlenecks that arise when multiple stakeholders, departments, and signatures are required to pass through CAPA stages and keep projects moving. Automating CAPAs eliminates the pain of tracking multiple paper forms and Excel spreadsheets.

Whether you use a white-label solution or a customized mobile app to complete inspections and assessments, workflow automation helps track actions in real-time, enabling teams to perform their roles faster and more efficiently.

Purchase Order Approval Process

The purchase order approval process can be a pain if an organization has no straightforward process for getting purchase order approvals. Automation ensures that operations are carried out quickly without bottlenecks and undue time spent.

Purchase order approval automation helps save costs, rejects wrong claims, and simplifies checks and auditing. This frees up time for the team to focus on more impactful work. 

Manual purchasing and approval processes lend themselves to human errors resulting in procurement delays, poor vendor relationships, and increasing costs. Purchase order process automation counteracts these manual processing issues.  

Overtime Recording and Approvals 

Overtime recording and approvals automation creates a more efficient system for managers to monitor, dispute, and approve clocking logs. Once automated, there's no need to remind employees to submit timecards. Their information is easily retrieved through your workflow automation software for review and approval. 

This helps save time spent manually recording tasks while lowering costs and waste of human resources. Overtime recording and time-tracking apps make it easy to measure how much time is spent on particular projects, improving project planning and employee workload assignments. 

In addition to tracking overtime, you can track regular hours and discern working patterns within the teams in your organization. It becomes easier to calculate overtime pay compared to the regular hourly rate.

Workflow Automation for Your Organization

These are only some of the common use cases of workflow automation in modern businesses across industries. Regardless of your industry, there are many benefits of incorporating workflow automation and optimization systems to enhance your organization's impact. 

Are you considering workflow automation software for your business processes? Get started with a free trial of Pulpstream's low-code automation system today.