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Workflow automation is the process of using predefined business rules to automatically trigger various actions for completing an activity, such as approving a document or capturing a signature. It can be achieved using low-code software with drag-and-drop features. By using workflow software, companies can automate manual tasks to reduce human error, remove bottlenecks, and boost productivity.
From placing action items in a Microsoft Word file to requesting an e-signature on a PDF, each automated workflow helps drive business forward. As workforces become more distributed, the automation of these tasks is essential for maintaining consistent “anytime, anywhere” access.
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Consider the following workflow:
Other workflow examples include generating invoices, capturing structured data in a form, and sending emails to new hires during onboarding as they complete various tasks. Workflow automation can be applied to a wide array of use cases, but it is particularly useful for processes with numerous documents and apps—especially when the business needs to reduce operational complexity and security risks.
With the right workflow automation tool, businesses can modernize virtually any document-based task. Reliance on long email chains, complex spreadsheets, shadow IT applications (such as personal cloud accounts), and manual processes can be sharply reduced, which in turn helps boost overall productivity and security.
The main benefits of workflow automation for document-centric workflows include:
Traditional small business collaboration has often entailed multiple apps and document repositories. Manually coordinating a workflow across all of them, usually via email, is a time-consuming, error-prone, and repetitive task, with real risks to both version control and project deadlines.
In contrast, automation software consolidates the entire workflow into a single tool. All documents can be automatically and safely exchanged, reviewed, updated, and approved within the same solution, with no need to manually send bulky email attachments. Suggestions and approvals both trigger automatic notifications and appear in one convenient view, too.
Workflow automation is built to scale to any device or location. The same rules can automate a document-centric task whether it happens on a phone, PC, or tablet, in or out of the office.
Small businesses and enterprises alike can scale operations, support remote work, and give employees a better experience. Business workflows can even be customized for individuals who are frequently on the go so they can capture data (such as insurance information) on mobile devices and then automatically route it back to systems of record.
Getting approval on a document can be a headache as collaborators exchange lengthy emails and provide conflicting directions. Workflow automation ensures that such disjointed processes do not impede collaboration by:
Sharing documents with internal and external stakeholders doesn’t have to be a risky manual task. Instead of wrangling with version control and worrying about people using their personal email due to the complexity of their workplace tools, team members can route all document workflows through one intuitive solution.
Assets ranging from human resources paperwork to vendor contracts are easily accessible and manageable, plus their contents can be automatically shared across different systems. For example, the HR department might choose to:
See how Citrix can help you streamline collaboration and increase productivity with secure, automated workflows.
The basic concept of workflow automation is straightforward, but automating actual workflows takes careful planning and appropriate tools. The right workflow management software will deliver:
Tight integrations: To serve as a one-stop shop for every document-related business process, workflow automation software should be easy to integrate with other tools. Solutions for project management, remote access, file sharing, and business intelligence can be securely connected to a workflow automation platform. Such integrations enable reliable access to documents and the ability to use specific features like e-signatures across all of them.
Flexible storage: Modern content collaboration requires plentiful data storage. As more documents get shared and archived by workflow automation tools, organizations will look to connect their critical workflows to cloud and/or on-premises storage. Automation software can connect a company’s files to the best available storage options so that they have ample space and maximize cost savings.
Robust security: Workflow automation must be highly secure to guard the sensitive information often exchanged between internal and external stakeholders. Encryption at rest and in transit, proactive analytics for tracking application and document access, and integration with leading data loss prevention solutions all contribute to a safe platform for enhancing productivity.
Citrix supports workflow automation through multiple solutions that streamline content collaboration while offering simplified and secure document access: