Why SMEs should automate tasks to optimize their workflows
SMALL and medium-sized enterprises (SME) are one of the main drivers of the economy in the APAC region.
According to one Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) estimate, they account for up to 97 percent of all businesses and employ more than half the workforce across its member economies.
Despite being the engines of growth, and major GDP contributors, many SMEs still rely on antiquated business processes and workflows, which limits their productivity and restricts their true business potential.
They often spend hours on repetitive, time consuming manual tasks, instead of optimizing their resources to derive more business value.
To resolve this, companies must embrace emerging technologies, and for SMEs, especially, the key lies in workflow automation.
Workflow automation, defined
In order to complete a business goal, most companies generally have a series of tasks that have to be fulfilled, most often in a particular order. This set of functions is commonly referred to as a workflow.
When businesses deploy a workflow automation solution, they essentially remove the need to manually run and manage these processes, ensuring quick and efficient transfer of tasks at every stage.
By taking the onus away from the human workforce, the tools virtually ensure that the right employee or business units are given the right tasks at the right time.
Manual workflow designs generally require heavy human intervention are not only inefficient but also extremely prone to human errors and oversights.
For instance, when an employee in a typical small office wants to apply for leave, he or she has to send an email to a supervisor who then checks the roster to ensure that the office is sufficiently staffed, before approving the request.
As if the process is not cumbersome enough, the supervisor could have easily overlooked the email, or forget to mark the day in the calendar where there will an employee short, which could severely affect operations.
With the help of workflow automation tools, however, the employee will just need to file a request, which will then be forwarded to the superior, along with the roster and other relevant information in a single pane view. Upon approval, the roster, along with the employee’s record will be updated as well.
Here are some of the other ways SMEs could use workflow automation tools:
- Various human resource functions
- Expense and claims tracking
- Document and contract reviews
- Asset acquisition approvals
- Safety audits
- Monitoring sales proposal
Increased automation, improved efficiency
The truth is, many large organizations have been utilizing these tools for a long time to manage hundreds of sophisticated tasks between thousand of employees that span across the globe.
But that does not mean smaller companies could not leverage and benefit from the same tools.
With the development of other enabling technologies such as increased computing power and robust networking capabilities, it has never been easier for SMEs to implement workflow automation solutions.
Many vendors are offering flexible and scalable solutions that could be deployed as a service, on the cloud, at affordable prices.
In a nutshell, workflow automation solutions are no longer a luxury that only large organization could afford. It is about time that SMEs jump onboard the bandwagon, to further unlock their potential and accelerate growth.