Workflow software brings automation to businesses of all sizes. In particular, it benefits small businesses with limited time and staffing. Some systems are comprehensive while others focus on a specific set of processes, such as finances or marketing. Cloud-based workflow tools enable consistent management across multiple locations.
A workflow is a series of steps rather than a standalone event. For example, a payday workflow begins with a tally of hours and ends with a paycheck. Small business owners bring workflow software into the office to save time, standardize operations, save on administrative expenses and eliminate costly errors.
Types of Workflow Software Available
Automated workflow tools control specific processes that otherwise claim a significant part of an small business owner’s workday. Workflow software is available for:
- Lead management
- Project management
- Labor management
- Resource planning
- Contract management
- Intellectual property security
- Many other routine tasks
Workflow Automation for a Retail Business
An integrated workflow management system for a retail store, for example, facilitates those processes that occur daily. In the back office, the system organizes, maintains and automatically adjust inventory. It assigns prices to items according to the data in the system.
In the store, point of sale workflow begins when a customer brings selections to the counter. The system records sales-related financial and tax information. It also tracks customers’ purchasing patterns and product preferences.
Meanwhile, in the front office, support personnel assist customers at the workflow-optimized help desk. An HR workflow logs employee hours and creates the next week’s work schedule. Personnel can instantly generate reports on any or all workflow activities as needed.
Small Businesses Thrive on Automation
Small operations depend upon the owner’s ability to multitask. Workflow solutions shoulder much of the day-to-day burden by standardizing common processes for leaner operations overall.
In fact, with these orderly processes in place, personnel learn good habits from day one. Workflow software promotes efficiency, accuracy and minimizes the risk of errors.
Personnel management workflow is ideal for small businesses. It sets parameters for employees in terms of rules and deadlines. It eliminates scheduling conflicts, tracks performance with objectivity and keeps records for later reference. The business owner does not have to micromanage personnel.
Workflow software for marketing is particularly valuable to small enterprises. It brings method to CRM – customer resource management – with tools for
- Making new contacts
- Managing sales leads
- User engagement
- Social media outreach
- Creating marketing campaigns
- Managing sales
With marketing workflow software, an owner at an industry networking event can scan business cards into a contact list on the spot. The workflow program adds the contact information to various lists such as email marketing, webinar outreach or social media friends. The owner need not remember to manually enter business card information at a later date, and the risk of losing valuable contacts is minimal.
Cloud-Based Workflow Systems
Cloud-based workflow automation promotes accurate, real-time metrics and greater efficiency in all business operations. Sales contacts, marketing materials, demographic information and sales data share a single, secure storage space.
Timesaving tools that facilitate smooth operations are available to authorized users at any time from laptop, smartphone or iPad. Cloud-based systems enhance an owner’s ability to delegate tasks instantly, and employees have access to guidelines and data so they can respond effectively.
Because everything is stored online, no downloads to already beleaguered office IT systems take place. This eliminates software compatibility issues that often arise with office equipment. Upgrades are automatic, with no downtime for system adjustments or employee training.
Even hands-on business owners stand to benefit from introducing workflow tools into their daily operations. These tools foster efficiency while setting workflow standards that everyone can follow. Automating many tasks saves time and money while keeping back office, sales floor and front office on the same page.