What is workflow automation?
Most of us engage in a set of routine tasks as part of a daily workload. In fact, according to a recent survey in Forbes, 73% of employees perform more than 50 recurring tasks every week. A workflow management tool automates these sequences of predictable and repeatable tasks. Once an individual or team has completed their specific job, automated workflow software ensures that the individuals responsible for the next task are notified and receive the information they need to execute their part in the process.
For example, if a gas utility customer reports a suspected leak, an engineer or technician is dispatched to investigate and repair. Imagine the time saved when the dispatched inspector has the ability to automatically submit their findings with pictures or videos taken at the site, route an inquiry for more information, or flag an immediate safety concern in real-time to the right people.
The top four ways to automate field service workflows
Field service workflow automation is more than replacing paperwork. The best process systems automatically trigger next steps and thread together employee collaboration. Here are the top four ways to automate your workflows for optimal efficiencies.
1. Remove IT barriers by democratizing workflow development
To make workflow software highly usable it’s critical to actually model the software off the workflows your field teams work through every day. This is difficult to do when software development is gated by IT. By putting workflow technology tools into the hands of those who understand the processes best, the final product is tailored to the workflows it’s meant to automate.
Low-code application platforms (LCAPs) behind some of the most advanced mobile workflow systems empower citizen developers–people with no IT or coding experience–to build their own processes and forms simply and intuitively. Democratizing workflows can streamline nearly every repeatable task. For field service that includes dispatching, job execution, and work order sign-off workflows.
2. Streamline data collection
Besides the obvious benefit of saved time and effort, with workflow automation field technicians can use their mobile device or tablet to collect and share information that is instantly routed to the right people and back-end systems.
For instance, field technicians can capture traditional work order items and site evidence, as well as initiate downstream workflows through quoting, parts requisition and equipment surveying functions on a mobile device. They can receive information and instructions for completing work orders at a site and capture the tasks completed, issues identified, time spent, and parts used. Users no longer spend time updating others on the status or managing the reporting and tracking of every project. This automation eliminates redundancies and human errors in the process.
3. Collect and contextualize data
Automated mobile workflows maximize the data your field teams can collect. Frontline workers create powerful contextual links between, for example, a part request for an asset with a photo taken onsite and automated scheduled service event. This data can then be integrated across CRM, FSM, and back-end systems to ensure the resulting data touches all aspects of the workflow and is actioned appropriately.
Without automated workflows, collected information from paper forms tends to be siloed. It’s simply too difficult to manually action every piece of data and connect it with contextual information. Data instead sits without key rich media, isn’t shared across the organization’s software, and is difficult to input into analytics and predictive models.
4. Route data for external-facing reporting
Automated workflows don’t have to be limited to field technicians. Extend your automated workflow processes beyond your company to external stakeholders. Automatically route collected information in real-time to partners, customers, vendors, back-end systems, and regulatory agencies as notifications, form submissions, or output documents–depending on the final destination. Use digital workflows to ensure documents don’t get lost and are stored appropriately.
For example, you can easily design a customized EHS workflow application that streamlines data collection, accelerates corrective action, and automates compliance reporting. Because mobile LCAP workflows are built and managed by you, you also have the ability to make quick edits when regulatory requirements change, as they often do, and get that updated information into the hands of your team, fast.
Automated workflows at their core are able to take established workflows and remove the taxing work out of them. They integrate across software, make data entry simple, and instantly trigger notifications or data storage without having to manually direct data to its next destination. Curious how automated workflows can empower your field teams? Book a demo with ProntoForms, G2 Crowd’s leader in forms automation software to find out.