WorkFlow Pro Overview

What is workflow automation and why is it important?

In today’s business environment, collaboration is key to success—but collaboration doesn’t always come easy. Multiple people across multiple departments with multiple processes must often come together to make a project or even a simple task successful. With various people contributing to the steps of a project, it becomes critical to have a set of tools for automated, repeatable and predictable management of this process—that’s where workflow automation comes in.

Workflow automation, also known as Business Process Automation (BPA) or Business Process Management (BPM), is the use of software to design, execute, track and archive simple or complex business processes that require manual interaction by employees. WorkFlow Pro from Coastal Technologies Group (CTGi) manages this complex task of automating business processes across the enterprise—leveraging and integrating into existing business systems and other CTGi applications.

Why is BPA important to my business?

In order to understand why BPA is important, we must first examine common problems with manual business processes:

Occasionally, business processes are documented, but more often than not many are passed along via hands-on training and word of mouth. BPA ensures that valuable knowledge isn’t lost as a result of employee turnover—and that processes don’t unwittingly change over time.

Difficult to track progress
If a process involves a series of sequential or even parallel tasks performed by multiple employees over a given period of time, properly tracking the progress of the process can be a daunting task. Often, tracking tasks becomes a matter of “going down the line” to figure out who is on the critical path, and discovering that a given task is past due may not happen in a timely manner.

Lost data
When executing manual processes, required data can be lost or unintentionally omitted. Once it is discovered that important information is missing, an employee may have to back-track to find it.

Too much paper
Despite the great infusion of increasingly well-connected personal computers, there is still a great deal of paper pushed through many offices. It is difficult to manually control and track the flow of paper through a business process.

Difficult to acquire correct files
Even in a reduced paper environment, it can be very difficult to find needed electronic documents, files and data. Searching hard drives and network drives can be tedious, and often there are multiple copies of the same document and even multiple versions of the same document, causing confusion.

Unclear business rules
Business rules may not be readily available, may change frequently and employees may find it difficult to keep track of them. This causes delays and potentially serious problems if business rules are not properly documented and followed.

Difficulty in scheduling
Manual processes may not account for schedule changes. Employees may be sick, on vacation or leave the company, which may impact scheduling and fail to transfer tasks to an available employee.

Overcoming these challenges by automating common business processes can provide a significant improvement to productivity and directly impact your company's bottom line.

WorkFlow Pro from CTGi addresses these common problems and many more. Using WorkFlow Pro to document, track and schedule manual business processes will empower your organization to improve almost any aspect of your business.

What can be automated with BPA?

Virtually any internal process can be automated with BPA, including processes spanning every department and/or functional area. Some examples include:

  • New hire procedures
  • Benefits enrollment
  • Performance reviews
  • Software installs
  • Feature requests
  • Document management
  • Maintenance requests
  • Commission calculations
  • Account audits
  • Sales quotes
  • Customer tracking
  • Payment processing
  • Vendor approvals and requests
  • Customer credit checks
  • Purchase requests
  • Purchase orders
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance
  • Contract management
  • New service turn-up
  • Issue / defect tracking
  • Supplier status updates

What are the benefits of BPA?

Reduce labor costs and increase efficiency
The most obvious benefit of workflow automation comes from increasing operational efficiencies. Routine, paper intensive tasks done by staff members can be completely automated.

Similar to how an assembly line increases manufacturing efficiency, BPA increases office efficiency. New employees can be productive faster because less time is needed training them on the details of your processes.

Better customer service
When your employees are able to shift focus from mundane and routine tasks, they can better focus on the customer and how to serve them better. BPA empowers employees to give customers with top-notch service, such as automatic order notification, shipping information or periodic status updates.

Liability reduction
During the course of running a workflow, WorkFlow Pro keeps track of everyone involved in the process. Due dates are carefully tracked and it is easy to define what happens when a task needs to become escalated. Common worries about tasks slipping through the cracks because some email was lost in someone's inbox can be eliminated. Every aspect of a process can be tracked, logged and audited at a later date.

Increased collaboration
WorkFlow Pro can easily integrate your workflows with remote offices, work-at-home employees, business partners and vendors. Each can be given separate security and allowed to participate by simply using a web browser.

Generate revenue
Workflow Automation can be of great value to the sales side of your organization as well. WorkFlow Pro can integrate with CRM applications to provide automation in your sales pipeline, in lead generation and in your email follow up campaigns. WorkFlow Pro can ensure your standard sales procedures function smoothly and makes sure leads are kept in the loop.

WorkFlow Pro automates processes across your entire enterprise and integrates with existing internal systems and other CTGi applications.


How WorkFlow Pro works

WorkFlow Pro is a simple, graphical process design tool that requires no programming on the part of the process designer. Processes, actions and routing can be done simply by drawing connections between various process elements. Because the application is so easy to use, organizations can have a fully-functional, web based workflow in a matter of hours in four easy steps:

Step 1 - Define the information
First, a process designer defines information using three criteria:

  • Process participants - The people involved in the process and the roles they play in completing the process
  • Process data - The information and data associated with the process. Some examples might include customer information, invoices, tracking numbers, purchase amounts, closing dates or image scans. Data can include text, numeric, date, memo, or document attachment data types. Information can be added, updated or removed—even after the workflow has been designed.
  • Process workflow - The way data is moved from person to person and the business rules defining the steps of the process.

Step 2 - Draw the workflow
Using the WorkFlow Pro Workflow Designer is as easy as drawing a workflow diagram. Simply select from a palette of workflow actions and connect the actions with lines to designate the flow of work. Workflows can range from simple to complex.

Workflow action can include task assignments, splits and joins, and other automation tasks such as sending email or updating a database.

Step 3 - Assign roles
Assigning roles includes defining the people and groups responsible for executing the tasks and working with the automated processes. WorkFlow Pro allows a great deal of flexibility in defining group and role assignments of the process participants.

Group and role assignment also play a key part in process security. Process information can be restricted to certain users in any way that is necessary.

Step 4 - Test and deploy
When the process is complete, simply save the workflow and the automated process is available for testing. There is no code to write, no program to build or compile, no need to upload data or create a database schema.

Initially, the process will run in test mode, where it can be tested without affecting production data. Simulations can be run to test various users of the process. When everything looks good, it is easily deployed and immediately available to your entire enterprise.

Once completed, the process becomes available to the entire enterprise. The WorkFlow Pro Server takes care of the details such as generating web forms, security, database setup, calculations, task assignments and due date tracking.

Learn more today
Contact us to learn how to take advantage of WorkFlow Pro and begin automating your organization’s workflow today. For more information, call (800) 448-2835.