Asset Intelligence and Management

Asset Intelligence and Management

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How Workflow Automation Can Improve Maintenance Efficiency

How Workflow Automation Can Improve Maintenance Efficiency

Daily workflows within an organization can be tedious, leaving workers dissatisfied. A supporting statistic shows that almost 58% of workers are unhappy with their daily workflows. 

The main reasons behind their dissatisfaction originate from monotonous manual tasks, obsolete technologies, and limited chances for professional growth. Interestingly, another study discovered that most employees are open to the concept of workflow automation. 

They believe automated workflows make them “smarter, more efficient, and happier at work.” Without unnecessary and repetitive steps, employees can pay more attention to more engaging, challenging, and beneficial tasks. 

According to a McKinsey report, about 30% of the tasks across 60% of the global occupations can be automated. Another study revealed that up to a third of the tasks in 60% of jobs are susceptible to automation. 

These relevant statistics prove how beneficial workflow automation can be for organizations across various industries. Workflow automation can increase efficiency by reducing the need for human intervention; thereby, automating activities and processes within an organization. 

In this blog post, we will explore workflow automation in detail, covering its significance, benefits, examples, and how organizations can automate their workflows using CMMS software

What is workflow automation

“Workflow automation” refers to using software or web-based applications to perform a set of tasks and processes automatically, eliminating the need for human intervention. Through software, workflow automation helps identify, standardize, and automate routine tasks to enhance productivity within an organization. 

Businesses can save money and time by removing repetitive manual tasks through the adoption of workflow automation. This will result in streamlined operations and increased productivity as workers will have more time to focus on tasks that add value. Also, it plays a significant role in process orchestration. 

Workflow automation makes it easier for organizations to transition operations from manual to digital processes. 

Enterprise workflow automation 

Workflow management systems use rule-based logic to automate manual processes. Within the business workflows, pre-defined rules are set to trigger automated actions. This not only helps organizations improve productivity but also helps them save time and minimize human errors. 

Enterprises have complex business workflows and this is where automated workflows come in handy. Any repetitive task containing several steps can be automated. However, some workflows are easier to automate than others. 

For example, an organization can automate workflows for the most accessible places, starting from maintenance, human resources, and customer lead-generation departments. 

What is a maintenance workflow?

A maintenance workflow is defined as a step-by-step process, outlining how maintenance tasks should be completed. Usually, it starts with a certain trigger. Below, the illustration shows the steps of a standard maintenance workflow. 

maintenance workflow

Why do we need workflow automation 

Regardless of the size, organizations depend on processes to meet their objectives. Also known as standard operating procedures (SOPs), a workflow is a sequence of actions needed to complete a process. It ensures that employees perform the tasks as per the set standards. 

Sometimes, employees find themselves completing several tasks that are outside the main objectives. This includes collaborating with colleagues, documenting their work, and traveling both onsite and offsite. 

Organizations can use workflow automation to eliminate such “low-value” activities from their operations. Streamlined workflows can save time, reduce mistakes, and enhance quality control.  

Similarly, maintenance managers can benefit from workflow automation by streamlining work order management. They can use work order software to relieve themselves from time-consuming administrative tasks and pay more attention to their core responsibilities, i.e. fixing things.

Benefits of workflow automation

As discussed earlier, maintenance departments and many sectors can benefit from automating workflow processes. Let’s discuss some of the benefits of workflow automation. 

Enhanced productivity

Regardless of the size of your team, there is only a limited number of hours each team member can contribute to work. Excessive reliance on manual tasks reduces the number of hours that can be dedicated to productive maintenance tasks. 

You can enable your team to pay more attention to the “high-level” tasks such as work order generation by automating administrative workflows. This enhances productivity among the team, leading to improved overall efficiency across all departments. 

Increased accountability

Without proper accountability, no organization or department can achieve its goals. Increasing accountability among team members can improve performance, uplift morale, and solidify a commitment to excellent work. 

Enabling workflow automation can help maintenance managers easily assign tasks to particular technicians and track their performance in real time. When all team members have complete visibility on who is accountable for what job, they feel motivated to fulfill their responsibilities. As a result, it becomes easier for managers to hold team members accountable for their work. 

Improved quality control 

Workflow automation enables company leaders to enhance the consistency of output. Effective workflow systems within an organization act as clear guides for technicians, simplifying the onboarding process for new team members who can easily refer to already-established workflows. With this standardization, each team member always understands the expectations placed on them. 

Reduce human errors 

As per the Plant Engineering 2020 maintenance survey, it was reported that operator errors lead to 11% unplanned downtime in facilities. 

Sometimes, human errors can be inevitable. For example, a technician may fail to notice the signs of malfunctioning equipment during an inspection for various reasons. 

They may even forget to forward the work request from a customer to the manager for immediate approval. When workflows are automated using specialized software, such human errors can be prevented or even eliminated. 

Increase work satisfaction

Work satisfaction is key to employee satisfaction. When workers feel their skills are not being utilized to a full capacity, are paid less, or feel bored with their work, they are more likely to find jobs somewhere else. This is not considered an ideal situation for businesses, given the high cost of finding new employees. 

Automating routine manual tasks can enable team members to focus more on meaningful, productive tasks, resulting in increased work satisfaction. Other benefits of workflow automation include improved safety in the workplace, better communication within teams, increased asset availability, and more scalable operations. 

As a result, these benefits leave a positive impact on the bottom line of the organization. 

benefits of workflow automation

Transforming key processes with workflow automation

Some common maintenance processes that can be handled by workflow automation software are as follows: 

Service requests are 

  • All service requests are handled through emails and online forms
  • Invitations for events are sent once they are scheduled
  • Tasks are assigned based on criteria like time, quantity, and other factors
  • Tasks are assigned to the right people to perform them
  • Notifications are sent to relevant individuals when the status of a task changes
  • Alerts are generated when tasks become overdue or about to miss the deadline 
  • WhatsApp, Slack, SMS, and other communication apps are used to send the notifications
  • Sales contracts and other important paperwork are drafted and sent for sign-off
  • Notifications are sent to the right people when permissions or reviews are required
  • Data sync takes place every time an email is received or a form is submitted
  • Processed data is used to generate reports and dashboards

Workflow automation examples 

The benefits of workflow automation are not limited to the maintenance department within an organization. Even other departments like marketing, finance, and IT reap benefits by implementing workflow automation. Let’s explore some examples of workflow automation in other departments.  

Talent acquisition

It can become challenging to meet business objectives without recruiting top-tier talent. The ability of an organization to attract and retain employees plays a key role in meeting short-term and long-term objectives. 

Nevertheless, 46% of US companies are struggling to recruit the right talent. To address this challenge, employers are now using workflow automation to expand the reach of their job postings. Apart from that, they are using recruitment software to automatically assess candidates’ skills, abilities, and educational backgrounds. 

Employee onboarding

According to Inc.’s report, 16% of new hires quit the company within their first week, and 14% leave within the first six months of their employment. What could be the significant factor here? Poor and ineffective onboarding processes. 

Ineffective employee onboarding processes can make new hires feel underqualified, overlooked, and undervalued, increasing their chances of quitting their jobs. 

More often than not, most onboarding processes focus on merely completing paperwork and asking the new hires to start working without offering enough support. Most organizations are now using workflow automation for onboarding processes to ensure extensive training experiences. 

Work requests 

It is critical for maintenance teams, especially those involved in manufacturing and residential facilities, to resolve work requests promptly. 

The loss of paper slips has become a common issue, which often leaves requesters wondering why the resolution is taking so long. On the other hand, when work requests do reach the right personnel, they may go through a review process by several team members before it is approved as a work order. 

With no automated workflow in place, work requests can be overlooked. Automated workflows enable both employees and customers to submit maintenance requests online. Robust CMMS software allows users to receive automated notifications upon work request submissions. Once approved, the work request automatically converts into a digitally assigned work order. 

Automate business workflows with CMMS 

In case you’re still doubtful about whether or not workflow automation is for your business, you need to think again. Numerous business workflows can and indeed should be automated to achieve operational efficiency. 

Workflow automation can enable your teams to be more effective, creative, and productive at work. Furthermore, it helps reduce inefficiencies, eliminates bottlenecks, and cuts down on manual tasks – all of which are crucial for managing business operations. 

Most CMMS software comes with a robust workflow automation engine that can be customized as per the needs of any facility. When automated workflows are integrated with CMMS software, they can significantly improve facility maintenance operations. 

When automated workflows are used effectively, they can serve as a powerful tool to improve efficiency, save time, and reduce errors within an organization. Facility management and real estate companies can streamline their operations and focus more on strategic initiatives by automating routine tasks and business processes.

Frequently asked questions

What are the benefits of workflow automation software?

The benefits of workflow automation software are as follows:

  • Reduction in errors
  • Simplified task completion
  • Improved communication and teamwork 
  • Enhanced transparency, control, and trust
  • Improvised business processes
  • Increased productivity
  • Automated unnecessary manual tasks

What is the workflow of maintenance work?

A maintenance workflow is a step-by-step process outlining how maintenance tasks are performed and completed within an organization. It’s an organized method that ensures tasks are performed efficiently, consistently, and securely. 

How has automation improved productivity?

Workflow automation removes the need for repetitive and manual tasks, freeing up teams to pay more attention to strategic and valuable activities. This results in considerable time savings and improved productivity. 

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