5 Steps to Eliminating Paper Pushing and Flowing Better

"The 5 Step Guide to Turning Any Tedious Task List Into an Automated Workflow" header image

Take a minute to think about all the menial tasks employees at your company have to perform in order to execute business-critical processes.

From entering data into disparate systems to filling out piles of paperwork to printing, sending, and scanning forms that require signatures—odds are workers’ tedious task lists are costing them a lot of time that could be spent on something more productive, more collaborative, and overall more important.

What if, instead, these tedious tasks could be handled automatically, behind the scenes, instead of by all the people who work at your organization? Valuable human capital could be redirected to the important work that requires talent—you know, the talent that they were hired to use?

By removing complex, unintuitive processes from your team’s daily tasks, you can enable your team to flow better together, become more collaborative, and, ultimately, be more successful.

If you’re not turning tedious task lists into automated workflows, it’s time to start. These five steps will help you start automating the tedious tasks so employees can do the real work—together.

Step 1: Collect Key Information

The first step to creating an automated workflow is to collect information about the processes you’re automating.

No one knows better what tedious, time-wasting tasks exist at your organization than the people who have to do them. That means, at this step, you want to welcome input from employees at all levels. Let them tell you how much time they spend on things like data entry and paperwork—tasks that are ripe for becoming automated workflows.

At this stage, it might help to create a visual representation of your current workflows for common tasks. By diagramming each step, it can be easier to identify issues that might be solved by automation.

Illustration showing the indicators that a process may be ready for automation

Dig deep—any process employees do through tedious, manual steps (time-off requests, onboarding forms, contract management, and more) is a candidate for automation.

Step 2: Identify and Prioritize Where You Can Simplify Your Most Tedious Tasks

Now you’ve identified some tedious tasks that would be better off automated, so what’s next? Finding ways to simplify workflows and get them ready to automate!

Simplifying workflows means removing repetition and redundancy wherever possible while maintaining key business processes. If you created visual representations of your workflows in the last step, revisit those to see where there are steps that can be consolidated or removed entirely.

While it may seem obvious, this is an important step because automation gives businesses the freedom to challenge the status quo and clean up overbuilt processes instead of just transferring redundancies into a digital format.

For example, say you have an HR onboarding workflow with several sticky points, like unclear handoffs. This would be the time to think through if you want to update this by simply taking process online (maybe by automating calendar reminders) OR selecting a more comprehensive tool that might help you manage and automate more of the process.

After you've identified which areas could use a little optimization, it's time to turn them into something that flows a lot better.

Step 3: Turn Broken Workflows Into Smoother Digital Workflows

Now let’s talk through how you can actually begin replacing old, broken processes with smoother digital workflows.

Let’s use paperwork as an example.

Imagine you have one especially tedious process that has a bunch of repetitive or manual steps related to filling or signing documents. You’ve already identified several steps you want to get rid of, like printing and scanning, and now it’s time to put all the important pieces back together.

First, you’ll want to choose the right approach for the job. Workflow Content Automation (WCA) is the process by which digital workflow software uses automation to connect your business tools and apps and streamline complex processes. With it, formerly manual tasks (like printing, scanning, mailing, and even filing paperwork) are executed digitally, automatically, and at scale. It reduces friction, redundancy, and cost so employees can get back to the intelligent work that moves both them and the needle.

When applying workflow content automation to piles of sales paperwork, for example, employees are able to complete even the most involved sales cycle quickly, accurately, and with decidedly fewer annoying follow-up calls and emails.

Illustration showing how to scale with workflow content automation

Wondering how you can get in on the lifesaver that is WCA? HelloWorks is one tool that makes it easy for anyone (technical or not) to create and launch automated digital workflows.

When you start creating your workflow by building your form, our drag and drop interface helps take paper or PDF forms and turn them into simple, multi-step, and multi-form workflows.

Next, your forms can be mapped to digital PDFs. This is where data becomes fluid and can be automatically applied to matching fields, instantly corrected thanks to smart validation, and digitally filed so all the right info flows into all the right databases without manual re-entry.

After a quick preview to make sure everything looks great, it’s time to launch your new automated workflow and kiss those tedious task lists goodbye!

Mobile phone with a HelloWorks workflow opened

And remember, anything you create with HelloWorks will be mobile-first—meaning forms can be easily completed on any device without pinching and zooming. Everything from gathering important onboarding information to getting big sales contracts completed becomes a quick, simple process that can be done in minutes from any device. The result? Happier workers and happier clients.

For the full scoop (complete with helpful videos!) on using HelloWorks to build the perfect automated digital workflow, read this article.

Step 4: Plan Training, Welcome Questions

For teams that are used to doing everything on paper; digitized, automated workflows are a big change. That’s why it’s important not to skimp on the training and have an open-door policy when it comes to questions.

A study by AMR Research found that nearly 50 percent of companies face serious problems with getting their employees on board with new technology. A later survey of Fortune 500 executives showed that “resistance” is the top reason changes failed in their companies. Yikes.

The good news is that no one loves their tedious task lists, so your team members are likely going to be pretty open to having them automated and taken off their plates. However, everyone has a different tolerance for change and affinity for technology.

Ample, personalized training and an openness to address questions can help ease the fear of change. Taking stock of your team and their level of tech expertise can help you handle the rest. If someone isn’t a heavy technology user, these changes might be intimidating. Walk them through the process, one step at a time (for example, check out our series of short explainer videos) and give them plenty of time and space to explore and ask questions.

Remember that the ultimate goal here is to get rid of boring, tedious tasks so your team can work better together. Encourage that new spirit of collaboration starting now, while everyone is learning how to use their new automated workflows.

For more tips on rolling out digital workflows without instigating a coup, try this.

Step 5: Measure KPIs and Improve as Needed

With your new automated workflows in place, it’s time to let them work their magic—while still looking for ways to streamline your processes even further.

Keep open communication with your team about any bottlenecks, redundancies, or other problems that arise with the new workflow. Look for signs that your automated workflow is benefitting your team, like reduced time for sales cycles or faster turnaround on paperwork. Watch how your team members use all the new time on their hands to complete collaborative, creative projects and tasks that make the whole organization more successful.

Leave Tedious Tasks in the Past with Today’s Best Automated Workflow Technology

Tedious, time-wasting tasks that prevent your teams from flowing together can be defeated by implementing automated workflows in just 5 steps. And at HelloSign, we empower companies to take automation into their own hands.

Learn how to use our workflow software, HelloWorks, to build, launch, and track automated workflows for free or take the advanced path start seamlessly embedding our solutions into your high-volume applications and workflows today.

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