4 min read

Now is the Time to Upgrade Your Facility with Workflow Automation

December 13, 2023

As we continue our journey into the digital age, automation is quickly becoming commonplace in facilities everywhere. Some people are hesitant about artificial intelligence and office automation entering the workplace arena, with many fearing that their job will be replaced by a robot. Rest assured, there is a much brighter perspective of workflow automation and in this blog, we will discuss how it can actually help you and your team get your work done in record time.

(And no, there won’t be a robot takeover any time soon. At least, we don’t think so).

What is Workflow Automation?

“Workflow automation” may sound super modern, but this premise has actually existed for decades now. In simple terms, workflow automation can refer to the replacement of paper-based and manual processes with digital tools. These processes are usually related to the management of information. Workflow automation is considered to be an aspect of office automation, a broader term describing the overall mechanization of office processes. The typewriter and copy machine are some of the earlier examples of office automation since they both mechanized previously manual tasks. Today, workflow automation is increasingly understood as not only the mechanization of tasks but also the conversion of information to electronic forms; this is also referred to as ‘digital transformation’ or ‘data migration’. 

Today, many businesses and facilities use a single work platform that integrates with existing systems and controls. The purpose of implementing workflow automation is to ensure that the right people are working on the right tasks at the right times, having everything they need readily available to them to do so. This allows businesses and facilities to standardize their work.

While businesses of all sizes stand to benefit from automating some of their processes, those focused on growth should especially consider upgrading. Workflow automation can do wonders when it comes to streamlining your facility’s processes and reducing time and money spent. 

Advantages of Workflow Automation:

  • Less manual effort expended on routine tasks
  • Faster completion of projects and tasks
  • Reduced user error
  • Greater visibility of task progress and timelines
  • Increased collaboration between team members
  • Quick insight into budget pacing
  • More insights into workflow performance metrics
  • Readily available data to inform decision making

At the end of the day, all of these key aspects of workflow automation free up time for facility managers to concentrate on strategic objectives, in turn seeing the bigger picture a bit more clearly.

The Basics of Workflow Automation

For the most part, workflow automation systems tend to serve three basic functions: storage of information, data exchange, and data management. Within each of these application areas, software and hardware work in tandem to fulfill basic facility functions. Here are some things to consider when choosing software that best fits your facility.

Information Storage

This area of workflow automation typically includes office records and other primary office documents and forms. Many of us remember the days of massive metal filing cabinets and endless stacks of paper documents. This method of data storage is being phased out as it is prone to error and mismanagement. Nowadays, it’s important that data and information are easily accessible for employees from any location on the facility. There are three main types of data storage, each with its own pros and cons.

  • Cloud storage - Information stored in the cloud can be accessed from virtually anywhere with the correct accesses, which typically consist of a secure username and password. This method is highly convenient, although the cost to store extremely large volumes of data may not be ideal for some corporations. But, the benefit of cloud storage tends to outweigh the costs. 
  • Server-based storage - This type of data storage involves having a large bank of servers at your physical facility. Organizations with an on-premise computing need, as well as a more robust IT department to support this kind of server’s needs, may use this method. 
  • Traditional storage - In this data storage method, a localized server at your facility acts as a shared drive among team members. This tactic for data storage can be better suited to small businesses due to the lack of need for large amounts of data storage. The disadvantage with this form of storage is that without a data backup, a catastrophic event like a building fire could potentially wipe out all of your data.

Choosing the right data storage type for your facility is crucial to your success as a secure, profitable business. If your main focus is convenience, a cloud storage solution for your facility management workflows,  like FlowPath, could be perfect for your facility.

Data Exchange

Equally important as data storage is the exchange of that information. Data exchange is a huge part of any workflow automation system. Processes that allow the real-time transfer of information (including instant messaging and video calls) are considered electronic sharing systems. These illustrate the collaborative environment facilitated by workflow automation systems. “Groupware systems” fall under the umbrella of electronic sharing systems and allow the electronic sharing of information between more than one user simultaneously. Groupware systems can increase collaboration and productivity by centralizing your facility’s projects in a single place. They also provide flexibility as they open the door for long-distance or remote collaboration (depending on if your workflow automation software is cloud-based).

Work order automation, project tracking/management, and service order software are all tools that are facets of data exchange. Basically, any area of your business software that entails communication and can be accessed by multiple team members at once qualifies as data exchange. An example is FlowPath’s chat functionality within each worker order, which helps centralize communication and allows record-keeping for each unique item of work.

Data Management

Last but certainly not least is data management. Office automation systems are often used to track short-term and long-term data. The types of data can include sales, expenditures, time allocation, inventory & procurement, and other aspects of your business. There is a bit of overlap between data management and data exchange when it comes to workflow automation tools like task management and scheduling systems, so ensuring that the software your company uses has both will help limit confusion when managing different systems in your facility.

A well-designed data management system is critical for any organization as it looks ahead to the future and goes to scale. Otherwise, the result can be siloed systems that are hard to integrate and manage.

Workflow Automation in Action

Enough about the basics. How is workflow automation actually shaping facility management? Here’s what we know.

  • 90% of employees say they’re burdened with repetitive tasks that could be automated
  • Organizations are losing $140 billion annually in wasted time and resources and duplicated work
  • 73% of IT leaders say that employees are saving 10-50% of the time they previously spent on manual tasks
  • 73% of businesses using automation are satisfied with their return on investment
  • 85% of business leaders believe automating some of the workload will give their team more time to focus on the goals that truly matter to the company

Workflow Automation is Here. It’s Time to Embrace It.

It’s important to look at workflow automation as a tool rather than resisting it as adversarial. In our digital age, adopting some extent of automation will be nearly essential for all businesses to keep up with their industries.

Save time and resources, iron out your processes, and create a happier team of employees by supporting them with the power of automation. FlowPath is a platform created specifically with facilities in mind. Project tracking, work order automation, quickly automated reports, and easy scheduling are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy when you integrate your business with our CMMS platform.

Schedule a demo today and discover the power of facilities management, simplified.

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