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How cloud computing has transformed workflow management

The future is Cloud. The future is Cloud.

Automated workflows were once reserved for organisations that could afford to invest millions of dollars in complex ERP and CRM systems. These would often take years to roll out.

Cloud computing has changed all of that.

Small and medium sized businesses can now compete on an even keel with the big guns, thanks to the way cloud computing has crushed the barriers that were once typical when even the simplest workflows were required. Licensing costs have tumbled, infrastructure headaches have dissipated, clumsy UI is fast becoming a thing of the past, and some configuration and customisation can be completed by people with only basic IT expertise.

The benefits also extend to the big end of town, with cloud-based software often far easier to implement. Rolling out new workflows and changing existing ones has become faster in cloud-based applications. Additionally, user adoption can be hastened due to optimisation for mobility devices and accessibility from any internet-enabled device.

And the transformation doesn’t stop there.

Cloud-based computing means less reliance on organisational IT teams. It’s becoming increasingly common for executives and business owners to implement integrated cloud-based workflow solutions without the involvement of IT.

This is enabling a new breed of users to leverage the power of workflow tools to automate complex series of business process steps and:

  • Solve existing business challenges
  • Improve productivity
  • Improve compliance
  • Reduce the non-value adding activities in their business.

Best of all, cloud-based workflow apps like WorkflowMax save business owners their most precious resource – time. Less time thinking about the process ‘stuff’, more time thinking about revenue generating goodness. And data integration across mobile devices such as phone and tablets has enabled business owners to seemingly be in two places at one time.

One such person recently remarked to me that his response time to sales leads dropped significantly after he automated a simple process – and this had a direct and positive impact on the number of sales meetings he was booking. In this example, an email notification is workflowed automatically to the Director of this small business every time a prospective customer registers their details on his website. The details of the sales lead are included in the email, so a call can be made immediately to the prospect. Previously, there was often a 24-hour delay in getting back to the prospect, which was leading to many missed opportunities.

This is a perfect example of a basic workflow resulting in a massive impact on the bottom line. Best of all, there was ZERO cost in setting it up and was actually completed in a matter of minutes due to the configurability of the app.

The sky is now the limit (literally!) for automated workflows across multiple systems. The architecture and development processes for many cloud-based applications lend themselves really well to integration with other systems. In other words, solutions like WorkflowMax will talk to other apps – sending and receiving data and triggering workflows when certain conditions or rules are met. For example, aircraft engine manufacturers use complex workflows to report engine faults to engineers and ground maintenance staff – even while the plane is flying. This often requires multiple systems to ‘talk’ to one another, passing critical data along the way.

At the other end of the scale, cloud-based workflow applications have enabled small (and large) technology and consulting businesses to realise a new level of efficiency in timesheeting and approval processes. For example, the consultant completes her timesheet on her smart phone and clicks submit. WorkflowMax notifies her manager to approve the time. Once the manager approves the timesheet, the consultant is paid and the client billed. Before the advent of cloud, these are the types of automated functions that were simply not attainable by businesses without very deep pockets.

Similarly, other common business processes in technology and consulting organizations have been revolutionised, simplified and drastically improved thanks to cloud. Take expense management. Expense claims can be routed through approval channels and finance teams for processing. However, cloud-based workflow apps like WorkflowMax can incorporate certain business rules and standards, so if the expense claim fails to meet one of those rules it can be auto-rejected, prompting the claimant to fix the issue and resubmit. These types of workflows save significant time and drive a high level of compliance and visibility.

The cloud has also enabled many businesses to become more global in their reach and customer base thanks to improved opportunities to connect with, and service, a worldwide customer base. This is particularly the case for many software companies that have transitioned key functions to cloud-based apps that drive workflows. Typical areas that are prime for workflow automation include technical support requests and access to training and knowledge base information.

Cloud-based financial management and bookkeeping applications such as Xero (xero.com) have transformed the way finance functions are carried out. Applications like Xero enable a far greater level of visibility and automation than their old-school rivals, whose databases reside on a desktop computer in an office. This type of technology has unleashed a whole new level of workflow automation.

There’s no doubt the cloud has revolutionised workflow management. These exciting technologies are continually evolving, are more accessible, and are becoming increasingly adopted across almost every industry. Cloud computing has gone a long way to level the playing field for small business, large business and the ‘inbetweeners’. Cloud-based apps have allowed organisations to become far more agile in their response to new opportunities for efficiency, productivity and service delivery. Wastage and non-value adding steps have become far more exposed.

If your organization hasn’t embraced cloud yet…you’re being left behind.

Discover WorkflowMax for yourself and learn about what it can achieve for your business with minimal setup. These simple, usable and reliable cloud-base apps pack a serious punch for your competition, make your team more productive and contribute to beautiful customer experiences.