Productivity

An introductory guide to enterprise automation

Repetitive tasks and context switching are major time sucks. This guide shows you how to reclaim hours from your workweek by automating routine work.

By the team at SlackJune 7th, 2024

Workers spend hours each week on repetitive tasks that could be automated. All this wasted time adds up, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can eliminate many manual, routine tasks and free up knowledge workers to focus on high-value activities through enterprise automation. And employees are eager to do so: Slack’s 2023 State of Work report found that 77% of workers say that being able to automate would majorly improve their productivity.

So what is enterprise process automation, and how do you choose an enterprise automation solution that’s best for you? In this post, you’ll read about real-world examples of how automation helps sales, marketing, customer service, engineering and IT teams save time and improve efficiency.

What is enterprise process automation?

Enterprise automation puts business processes on autopilot. It uses logic and triggers to streamline operations, reduce manual effort, minimize human error and increase your return on investment. 

Components of an enterprise automation system

Enterprise process automation includes a broad range of technologies:

  • Automation managers such as Slack’s Workflow Builder define, execute and monitor workflows to ensure tasks are completed efficiently and on time.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) help automated systems learn from data, make predictions, and generate insights from the outcomes to inform future actions.
  • Business process management (BPM) is a systematic approach for optimizing business processes. BPM tools allow organizations to model, execute, monitor and refine their workflows for continuous improvement.
  • Integrations and connectors unify disparate systems to ensure that essential data is consistent and accessible across applications.

What are the benefits of enterprise process automation?

Enterprise automation helps organizations reduce the time and effort required to complete repetitive tasks. It increases productivity by freeing people up to focus on more strategic, higher-value activities. Automation also lowers operating costs by minimizing human errors and the interventions that are required to solve them. 

Companies may use enterprise automation solutions to help comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards by ensuring process consistency and data accuracy. They can also scale operations efficiently to handle increased workload without a corresponding increase in manual effort.

Enterprise automationoffers real-time information and advanced analytics to support accurate, data-driven decision-making. These insights can inform strategic planning and improve a company’s overall operations. Moreover, enterprise automation tools allow organizations to adapt to shifting business conditions to meet market demands and capture new opportunities. 

What are the different types of enterprise automation?

Enterprise process automation involves many moving parts, with various types of automation:

  • Rule-based automation uses predefined rules or algorithms to execute tasks. Specific conditions trigger actions for consistent execution.
  • Integration automation (e.g. APIs) connects various software systems, applications or databases to facilitate data flow within a diverse software ecosystem.
  • Intelligent automation and real-time decision-making use data analytics and AI/ML technologies to make quick decisions and perform complex tasks. These solutions automatically learn from data and adapt to shifting conditions.
  • Robotic process automation (RPA) automates repetitive, rule-based tasks by mimicking human actions. You can use these bots to handle data entry, transaction processing and other routine tasks.
  • Business process automation (BPA) optimizes complex workflows and minimizes human involvement. It emphasizes task integration within a business process to execute an overarching automation strategy.

How to choose an enterprise automation platform

To maximize the benefits of enterprise business process automation, look for low- or no-code automation software with an intuitive user interface so employees don’t need programming skills to create and manage automation workflows—minimizing the learning curve and speeding up adoption. 

Your enterprise process automation software should integrate with your existing tech stack. It should also provide robust APIs and pre-built connectors that integrate easily and ensure seamless data flow across the organization. Choose a solution that lets you scale quickly to handle increased workloads and adapt to shifting business needs. It should also be flexible and customizable to accommodate specific company policies and requirements.

It’s also important to consider security and compliance when choosing a tool to handle your business and customer data. Your enterprise process automation solution should adhere to industry standards and the latest security protocols to protect sensitive information. It should meet regulatory requirements relevant to your company and industry, such as GDPR, CCPA and HIPAA.

Evaluate the platform’s reliability, performance and uptime metrics to ensure that it can support seamless processes and business continuity throughout the organization. And consider the vendor’s reputation and support (for example, do company representatives respond quickly and offer help with the technical side?).

Finally, pick an enterprise automation tool with robust analytics and reporting. You can get real-time insights into process performance to identify bottlenecks and respond quickly. It should be able to generate custom reports, too, to help you monitor KPIs and make smarter strategic decisions.

What are examples of enterprise automation?

The perfect place to start is by bringing automation into the tools your team already uses. Workflow Builder empowers non-technical users to automate everything from routine tasks to complex processes in Slack. Examples include collecting information, sending reminders, managing requests and approvals, creating support tickets, updating sales accounts or flagging engineering bugs. 

Here’s how different types of teams can automate workflows to increase efficiency.

Workflow automation for sales

Salesforce’s sales operations teams use Workflow Builder to keep sellers informed about where each deal stands and remind them to share reports, updates and audits. Thanks to more than 65 connectors, reps can do everything inside Slack without switching platforms. They can set up workflows to take action in another tool, such as creating a row in a Google Sheet or adding a task to a project management tracker in Asana. Workflow Builder has helped these sales teams save over 800 hours weekly through enterprise process automation.

Workflow automation for marketing

Mixology, a women’s designer clothing retail chain, hosts fundraisers, pop-ups and trunk shows at its stores to attract new customers. Its team needed a better way to organize and manage partners and logistics, so they used Slack’s Workflow Builder to collect event requests and information from store teams. 

Their requests go to a private channel for review and approval. When the executive team approves or denies an event, the requesting store sees a corresponding emoji from the workflow. The information is automatically recorded in the company’s database so teams can track all events and their impact on sales and marketing outcomes.

Workflow automation for customer support

Credit Union 1 in Alaska created automated workflows that let tellers send real-time leads and referrals to relationship managers as customers inquire at a branch. It also has a workflow to route members to specialists for follow-ups to provide relevant and timely support, improving customer satisfaction. Besides standardizing processes to capture all requests, Workflow Builder has helped the bank achieve a 20% increase in time saved.

Workflow automation for engineering

Slack’s engineering team uses Workflow Builder to create simple forms for everyone in the company to contribute new ideas, like feature upgrades. Based on the input and organic conversations, our team formalizes the best ideas into Jira tickets or Asana tasks to put them into action.

We also use automation to flag and track new bug reports with a workflow that integrates with Jira (and many other bug-tracking tools), so all employees can create new issues and track resolutions without leaving Slack.

Workflow automation for IT

Sony Interactive Entertainment built more than 650 workflows to support over 2,000 PlayStation engineers worldwide. For example, the company’s Network Operations Center team created a workflow that triggers an automated response to frequently asked questions. Another automated process sends network status reports to a specific channel every three hours to executive stakeholders.

Automation shaves critical minutes off numerous tasks in a field where every second counts. Slack Workflow Builder has saved Sony Interactive Entertainment over 400 hours a year by leveraging integrations with ServiceNow, Jira, Jenkins, BigPanda and more.

Unlock the power of enterprise automation with Workflow Builder

Slack’s Workflow Builder empowers team members to automate routine processes without writing a single line of code. You can connect your favorite software with Slack almost instantly to keep work flowing across your tool stack and get things done in one central place. Those savings add up to less context switching, improved focus and fewer human errors.

Learn more about Workflow Builder and discover how it helps our users achieve a 28% increase in time saved through enterprise automation.

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