Benefits of Using a Workflow Tool Across Your Business08/06/2019
Business process automation tools that automate business workflows give users crucial time back from laborious, error-prone manual and repetitive tasks. Think about being able to do all the work that often goes undone. Imagine the results that could come from performing critical analyses that move a business forward.
Oftentimes, we think only of the benefits of automating single step repetitive tasks for accounting or land departments, but tackling multi-step, inter-department workflows can provide companywide benefits.
From the ground up, an automated workflow tool can traverse an entire organization and free up time for higher value analysis and improved decision making.
The Problem with Current Systems Today
Today, many companies rely on antiquated business processes with significant manual intervention. And in many cases, these processes have not been updated since initial development. Designed and developed within a company’s IT department, these systems use work-arounds and non-standard capabilities that don’t come supported by a third party. They can become obsolete quickly. And while these manual systems can work, they’re inherently ineffective and error prone.
Who Benefits from use of a Workflow Tool
From the front office all the way up to the CEO, a workflow tool benefits everyone and all organizational functions. It’s truly a one-size-fits-all application. A workflow tool doesn’t just sit in one department, either. It lives on a server and is web-based, which allows someone unique access to design their own workflow. Because workflow software is easy to learn, the longevity and supportability can go beyond the person who built it and can be improved upon as needed.
P2 Workflow is equipped with easy-to-measure key performance indicators (KPIs) and dashboards and can be used out of the box. With homegrown systems, you have to manually extract the data before you can create a dashboard, and there are generally fewer bells and whistles.
Easily Measure how Efficient Work is Being Completed and Routed
By utilizing a workflow tool, you can understand how effective the software is in getting data from point A to point B. KPIs are integral components of each workflow and the dashboards associated to those KPIs show the progress of certain tasks. A manager will be able to ascertain critical data around employee productivity like:
- Understanding if a person who was assigned a task spent five minutes or five days completing that task
- How many cases are open that need to be finished for revenue processing
- Seeing if one individual has 10 tasks while another has two and being able to better distribute work to minimize resource time spent
This insight gives managers the ability to see how to make a workflow more efficient, improve embedded steps, and allow for continuous improvement of all processes.
Many outdated technologies cannot be integrated. What’s distinct about P2 Workflow is that it can talk to any entity with an API, Web Services, uploads, and other means of integration including direct database connections. This is helpful in a variety of ways. For example, if Human Resources needs something to integrate with payroll, the workflow tool will seamlessly take care of that action. P2 Workflow also boasts a quick turn-around for new automations, issues, and questions. It’s easy to learn and use whether you’re a department employee with business knowledge or a technical IT employee.
When a new employee doesn’t know a process, and it is set up in an automated workflow tool, said employee benefits from a diagram with a step-by-step walkthrough of the process, allowing for quicker onboarding. Further, users can rely on the heavy lifting of the workflow tool vendor. No longer is there the lack of universal knowledge and support; with a third-party provider, you get the following benefits:
- Support staff
- Cutting-edge technology that is continuously updated
- Software improvements and releases
- And with P2, you get deep oil and gas expertise and pre-defined oil and gas workflows
One can go department by department through an upstream oil and gas company to see the many savings gained from using an automated workflow tool.
The overall benefit for an accounting department is spending less time on data entry, running processes, printing information, and gathering data for audits. Many of the accounting-related workflow processes P2 has focused on for customers include:
- Automating transactions
- Syncing systems with master data
- Manual journal entry approval and processing time
- Processing Joint Interest Billing
- Revenue distribution and close
For land and legal departments, gone are the days of dual data entry. Automated workflows help with correctly routing land contracts and keeping an audit trail of all contracts in one centralized place. Routing approvals for statements of work and setting alerts for yearly contract renewals are additional ways legal departments use workflows.
In IT, there are a plethora of systems to support: HR, IT, payroll, land, etc. With one centralized workflow automation tool for an entire company, there are fewer requests, issues, and lag time.
In Human Resources, staff can streamline paperwork like employee onboarding, employee off-boarding, and time-off requests.
From the field to the back office, all company functions save time in automating requests and sharing information.
Eliminating redundant, monotonous tasks frees up significant time – and automation of repetitive tasks adds up. Let’s look at manual journal entries as an example. If it takes an average of 15 minutes per manual journal entry, at 200 journal entries per month, that is up to 50 hours/month or 600 hours/year in savings – simply by not having to manually print reports and route for approval as well as save in a file for audits.
Another example comes from a mid-cap U.S. oil producer that decided to automate the material transfer process. They eliminated manual capture of transfer on paper, entry of that detail into two different systems, and monthly reconciliations between the two systems, saving a few hours every month (and not accounting for the time it took to route for approvals). The result? No more dual data entry and 50% improvement in process.
There is lower cost for IT departments: fewer requests, fewer systems needed, fewer systems to sustain, and fewer systems to pay for. A shorter learning curve for new people, should somebody leave. And scalability.
Across all company departments, time savings equals higher employee productivity and business profitability; in some cases, even a better work/life balance for staff.
Automated workflows have benefits that impact an entire organization, not just the accounting department. By lowering the redundant strain, people have increased bandwidth to get more done (efficiently and effectively) and contribute to the overall prosperity of the company.
About The Author
Tim Wadle, vice president of product management at P2 Energy Solutions, has more than 20 years of experience developing software solutions for oil and gas companies and has served on many industry committees, including the American Petroleum Institute’s Committee on Production Measurement & Allocation and the Energistics PRODML Executive Committee. His work has been published in Oilfield Technology magazine and he has been a featured speaker at the Offshore Technology and AICPA Conferences. When he’s not behind his desk, you’ll find Tim skiing Colorado’s slopes or biking its trails.