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Automated Workflow Management: A Comprehensive Guide in 2024

~78% of business leaders think remote working and workplace reconfiguration will boost automation and digital transformation.1 Automated workflow management optimizes automated workflows, like automated sales contract creation, and accelerates the process of digitalization.

Knowledge of workload automation is important to enhance workflow management. However, many business leaders claim not to know about workflow automation:

  • ~68% of businesses do not understand digital transformation.

We have curated this article to fill that knowledge gap. We cover:

  1. What is a workflow? 
  2. What is workflow automation?
  3. What is workflow management?
  4. What are the types of workflow automation?
  5. Which workflow automation type should be used?
  6. What is workload automation (WLA) based workflow automation?
  7. What is business process automation (BPA) based workflow automation?
  8. What is robotic process automation (RPA ) based workflow automation?

What is a workflow?

A “workflow” is a series of industrial, administrative, or other processes that take a piece of work from start to finish. A workflow is made possible by putting resources into processes that change materials, give services, or process information in a planned way. A workflow can include multiple steps, people, systems, or machines.

What is workflow automation?

Workflow automation is using software to eliminate or reduce the number of manual tasks and increase work efficiency. Some examples of workflow automation are:

  • Creation and sending out calendar events and invitations.
  • Sending messages through platforms like WhatsApp and SMS.
  • Document creation, like sales contracts, to send customers for signature.
  • Tasks in data workflows, like data transfer between platforms.
  • Workload distribution based on volume and time.

What is a workflow management system?

A workflow management system (WfMS or WFMS) or workflow application is a set of tools that lets you set up, run, and observe a predetermined set of tasks. 

What are the types of workflow automation?

Workflow automation can be classified into three categories according to the way it functions:

Which workflow automation type should be used?

WLA-based workflow automation can be preferred when back-end workflows are automated, such as:

BPA-based workflow automation can be used in front-end operations that require flexibility, such as:

  • Travel requests are processed through digital forms on a single platform.
  • Creating digital time-off requests forms.
  • Sorting customer queries to departments by using the software interface.

RPA-based workflow automation can be useful in precisely repeatable front-end operations such as:

What is WLA-based workflow automation?

Workload automation (WLA) software lets back-end business workflows be scheduled, started, and triggered from one platform. 

What are the differences between BPA and RPA?

In contrast to BPM and RPA, Workload Automation gives more importance to event-driven triggers, situational dependencies, and real-time processing than time-based processing when planning, starting, and running workflows.

To learn more about WLA vs. RPA, check out this quick read.

Why is it important?

There are over 14 case studies of WLA where companies benefit from WLA workflow automation. Workload automation can provide the following benefits:

  • Enhance IT effectiveness:
    • Single platform to manage IT workflows: WLAs allow IT staff to manage various workflows in different business environments.
    • Enhances data management: With WLA tools, IT staff can automate extract-transform-load (ETL) workflows from a single platform.
    • Improves server management: IT team can also automate batch jobs in server workflows such as data extraction and balance the workloads between servers.
  • Provide low code/no code platform to manage workflows: WLA tools can provide low code/no code platforms for workflow automation. 26% of business leaders think low code/no code development platforms are the most important automation investment.

How does it work?

  1. Users can log in to their WLA software to create workflows. 
  2. Users can choose the application or service to automate a task on the workflow creation screen.
  3. Then, the user can create an event trigger to initiate another business process with the execution of the application. 
  4. In the end, the user can set up an alarm or a message to let him or her know when the business process is done or canceled.

Video 1: An example of the use of the WLA tool:

What are some WLA use cases in workflow automation?

This section highlights some use cases of workflow automation:

  • IT department:
    • To automate ETL workflows: WLA tools can automate ETL task triggering and execution to reduce human error.
    • To manage data centers: By using WLA tools, IT teams can create workflows to manage data centers from a single platform.
  • Human Resources:
    • To automate payrolls: WLA tools can be used in HR to automate payroll management tasks like the calculation of compensations or initiation of payments.
    • To automate hiring tasks: By using WLA, HR can schedule online job posts, interviews, and emails.
  • Finance:
    • To automate know your customers (KYC) tasks: WLA automation can be used in finance to automate KYC workflow tasks in finance like
      • business existence checks
      • Address checks
      • Financial document recordings
    • Client onboarding and offboarding: WLA technologies can automate client onboarding and offboarding emails and permissions.

What is business process automation-based workflow automation?

Business process automation (BPA) uses software to automate business workflows. Excel’s autofill and macro features are some of the first examples of business process automation used in business processes like sales order processing. 36% of businesses automate workflow, and 26% intend to do so.2

What is the difference between BPA & RPA?

BPA automates the workflows of business processes to make tasks that used to be done by hand more efficient. BPA focuses more on front-end tasks like automating emails and invoice processing. Or creating more open-ended business tasks like situation-based workflow diagrams to assign tasks to employees. Some of the main differences are:

  • RPA tools focus on automating specific and exactly repeatable tasks, while BPA can automate situation-dependent workflows.
  • The use of BPA tools is less predictable, and they are slower than RPA tools.RPA tools are faster and more predictable than BPA tools. 

Examine this quick read for more information on RPA vs. BPA.

Why is it important?

BPA can assist in business process management (BPM) and improvement. BPM involves discovering, modeling, analyzing, measuring, improving, optimizing, and automating processes. Improving business process management is important because it can have the following benefits:

  • Improve efficiency: Analysts and leaders can see every step, task, and employee in workflows with BPM. In 55 process improvement case studies we collected, 72% of them improved process efficiency with BPM efforts.  
  • Motivate change: Business leaders can use BPM tools to document, monitor, and anticipate changes in workflows.
  • Motivate compliance and security: Managers and analysts can easily document and visualize workflows with BPM to ensure compliance. For example, 19% of executives consider BPM for audit and compliance purposes. 

Learn more about business process management benefits and best practices. Compare BPM, process intelligence, and process mining tools through our data-driven and comprehensive lists. 

How does it work?

BPA can be accomplished on low-code/no-code platforms with drag-and-drop features. They can automate workflows by filling in the checkboxes and blank spaces in business modules like the “leads module,” from which the sales team can send emails to potential customers.

Video 2: An application of business process automation software.

What are some BPA use cases?

  • Document search: BPA software can aid in finding information on platforms or internal systems that your company uses to store documents. 

Video 3: An example of a BPA document search:

  • Diagramming: Business workflow automation BPA can create workflow diagrams with drag-and-drop features. Workflow diagrams help to explain how a business process works with visual workflows. They can show how a business process works from beginning to end. BPA software can:
    • Support the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) graphically or with other diagramming conventions.
    • Save time by creating workflow diagrams manually with their pre-defined features. 

Figure: Workflow diagram.3

In the diagram, a ticket is submitted by a customer. Then, the ticket is automatically created and assigned. Then, the ticket is reviewed depending on priority. Then, it is decided whether an investigation is needed. If needed, the support team resolves the ticket. If not, then the required procedures are conducted to fix the ticket.

  • Email management: Service requests from emails and form submissions can be automated using BPA. BPA software can be programmed to process specific emails and forms. These items could include a customer number or the phrase “support ticket.” When an email arrives, the BPA software can start the tasks that the user has specified, such as sending a “thank you” email with the average response time to the request.

Video 4: An exemplary use of BPA for email management.

What is robotic process automation-based workflow automation?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a common way to make specialized agents, or “bots,” that interact with graphical user interface (GUI) elements to complete repetitive, rules-based workflows. They can, for example, be used to move files to specified folders and read and write databases within a specified time frame.  

Figure 4: RPA Services business process architecture4

Why is it important?

RPA is important because it has the following benefits: 

  • On-time process execution: RPA bots can start a task on a specific day and time each month.
  • Boosts remote work and reduces costs: RPA lets employees orchestrate and monitor automated workflows from a dashboard remotely.
  • RPA can manage remote desktop automation: RPA can automate remote desktops using their user interface.

To learn more about the benefit of RPA, check out this quick read.

How does it work?

RPA software can require programmers to create and automate bots. On the RPA software:

  1. Programmers can create bots by clicking the “robot file” button.
  2. Then, the programmers can code tasks and workflows that RPA bots undertake
  3. Programmers orchestrate RPA workflows bots on the software.
  4. Programmers can receive notifications about RPA job results on the software.

Video 5: An exemplary use of RPA software

What are some of the RPA use cases in workflows?

  • Data updates: RPA can automate tasks in data processing workflows. RPA can be set to update relevant data from forms or emails automatically. So, HR, marketing services, and sales departments can have access to the most up-to-date and correct information.
  • Data validation: Data validation workflows can include automatable tasks like cross-checking data against publicly available data. RPA automation is more suitable than other tools due to scalability.
  • Data extraction from PDFs and scanned documents: RPA can automate tasks in data extraction document processing because screen scraping, OCR (Optical Character Recognition), and basic pattern recognition technologies can be integrated with RPAs.

Learn more about RPA use cases and applications.

If you have any more questions about best practices for workload automation, please get in touch with us at:

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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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