​​What is a Digital Workflow? How to Automate It and What Are the Benefits?

Understanding Digital Workflows: How to Automate It and What Are the Benefits

The digital age has ushered in a wave of transformation that businesses can no longer ignore. As we navigate 2024, the pursuit of growth and operational efficiency has become a top priority, with a staggering 89% of high-tech and software companies actively seeking new pathways, according to an Accenture study. In this climate of change, bridging the gap between manual and digital processes has become crucial, leading many enterprises to integrate digital workflows into their operations.

KDAN, a pioneering SaaS provider of digital workflow solutions, has been at the forefront of digital revolution, steadfastly committed to empowering businesses with the tools to automate their digital workflows. This approach not only streamlines operations but also unlocks new realms of efficiency and value creation. In this article, we’ll delve into the concept of digital workflows, exploring how businesses can harness the power of automation to transform their digital landscape, paving the way for a future where innovation and productivity converge seamlessly.


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What Is a Digital Workflow and Digital Workflow Automation?

A digital workflow refers to a sequence of activities or tasks that are executed digitally or electronically with the goal of automating processes within a company or organization. It encompasses the procedures, software tools, and overarching business strategy for accomplishing a set of interconnected steps. Whenever a multi-step process transitions from manual operation to being carried out through digital means, it becomes a digital workflow. While human workers typically initiate and oversee the workflow, the digitization of documents and processes enables the steps to be performed more efficiently, rapidly, and with greater traceability. The core idea is leveraging technology to streamline and automate previously manual organizational processes.

In essence, a digital workflow harnesses computing technologies to systematize repeatable processes and procedures. It defines the digital systems, data flows, and human touch points required to complete an organizational process from start to finish in an automated fashion. The goal is to reduce manual labor, errors, and bottlenecks by digitally coordinating the sequence of interdependent tasks.

Automation has come a long way from the cotton gin and Henry Ford’s first moving assembly lines. In fact, with today’s advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and sophisticated software, it’s estimated that as much as 45% of work activities across different industries can be automated — representing approximately $2 trillion in annual US wages. This immense potential for automation is being driven by the digital transformation sweeping across businesses looking to boost productivity, reduce production costs, and gain competitive advantages.

Digital workflow automation specifically refers to leveraging digital technologies to automate the workflows and processes that an organization relies on to operate and deliver products/services. The core benefits are eliminating tedious repetitive tasks for employees, reducing errors from manual workflows, improving speed and throughput, enhancing process visibility, and cutting operational costs.

5 Benefits of Digital Workflow Automation

  1. Simplifying Business Processes, Increasing Employees’ Productivity

By establishing digital workflows, businesses can streamline conventional manual processes and boost employee productivity. With routine tasks like printing, scanning, and transmitting documents being automated, teams can divert their focus towards higher-value activities. Furthermore, when work is entirely digitized, employees can develop digital skills and gain the flexibility to arrange their schedules and work locations, saving valuable time and enhancing overall efficiency.

  1. Save Time and Costs

Automating administrative tasks through digital workflows can yield significant cost savings for businesses. By transitioning processes like filing, invoicing, and onboarding to digital platforms, the need for physical office supplies such as paper, printer ink, and storage space is drastically reduced. This contributes to lowering production costs for your startup and freeing up budget allocations.

Many businesses still rely heavily on traditional pen-and-paper processes, as they are deeply ingrained and require minimal training. However, when multiple parties need to sign physical documents, such as contracts or personnel documents, the process can become time-consuming, error-prone, and resource-intensive. By adopting e-signature solutions like DottedSign, businesses can digitize paper-based data and streamline the signing process within the digital system. This approach transforms document signing and sharing into an efficient, integrated part of the workflow, saving valuable time and resources for customers, partners, and employees alike while reducing administrative costs.

  1. Minimize Errors Due to Manual Tasks

The adage “too many cooks spoil the broth” holds true for business processes as well. The more people physically involved in critical tasks, the higher the risk of human error. Digital workflow solutions eliminate common issues arising from lost documents, missed steps, and interpersonal conflicts stemming from conventional manual processes. By automating workflows, businesses can minimize errors and enhance overall operational efficiency.

  1. Reduce Environmental Harm and Carbon Footprint

Paper production has a significant environmental impact, requiring substantial water and tree resources. Excessive deforestation can lead to ecological imbalances and contribute to global warming. By implementing paperless digital workflows, businesses can potentially reduce paper usage by an average of 3 boxes per year, equivalent to saving 5 trees. Furthermore, according to the “2022 World Forests Status Report,” halting deforestation could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.6-5.5 billion metric tons annually from 2020 to 2050, a 14% reduction. Therefore, adopting digital solutions not only reduces a company’s environmental footprint but also contributes to sustainability efforts and mitigates the effects of climate change.

  1. Make Data-Driven Decisions for Enhanced Customer Experiences

Digital workflows provide businesses with access to extensive data, enabling them to analyze processes, identify bottlenecks, and set specific goals for improvement. This data-intensive and intelligent technology facilitates better and faster decision-making, leading to enhanced customer loyalty and experiences. Furthermore, some enterprises leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to integrate market trend analysis into their decision-making processes, allowing them to adapt and meet evolving consumer demands more effectively.

KDAN’s data service, ADNEX, offers digital workflow solutions and data-driven consulting to help companies unlock the full potential of their business data. By consolidating disparate and siloed data sources into integrated data lakes, running analytics to derive insights, and developing customized data strategies, ADNEX empowers brands to improve marketing initiatives, increase sales, and outperform competitors. Their suite of services leverages digital tools and artificial intelligence to enable data-driven decision-making, helping leadership teams make smarter, more informed choices backed by comprehensive data analysis.


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5 Steps to Implement Digital Workflow Automation

5 Steps to Implement Digital Workflow Automation
Source: KDAN

Step 1: Recognize Mundane and Time-Intensive Tasks

The initial step in identifying processes ripe for automation is careful observation. The objective is to develop a plan that minimizes disruptions while safeguarding employee productivity and business operations. This involves taking stock of the conventional workflows and manual tasks that can and should be transitioned to digital platforms.

Repetitive, administrative processes are ideal candidates for automation. Tedious tasks like sorting, labeling, and filing digital documents can be streamlined through automation. However, processes that require subjective human input, such as quality control or editorial approval, may be less suitable for complete automation.

To determine which manual processes should be digitized, conducting a comprehensive workflow audit is recommended. This audit will provide insights into the time and resources dedicated to manual tasks, highlighting potential areas where digital workflows could yield significant time and cost savings.

Step 2: Determine Tasks to Introduce Digital Workflow for and Evaluating Them

When considering which workflow to digitalize, choose one that promises to provide the most significant time savings through automation. For your initial foray into workflow automation, it’s advisable to select a process that is not overly complex. For instance, automating resume reviews could be a straightforward task that can significantly reduce the workload on your staff.

Conduct a thorough audit of the chosen workflow, analyzing each step and making necessary improvements. Ensure that the workflow accurately reflects your company’s current software and technology landscape. Identify the key metrics currently used to evaluate candidates, such as work experience, educational qualifications, licenses and certifications, or language proficiency.

Step 3: Discover Your Ideal Automation Software Partner and Digitize Your Operations

Once you have identified the workflow to be digitized, translate the individual steps into your chosen workflow automation platform. Different software solutions may have varying implementation procedures, so consult your provider for specific instructions. Remember to set up appropriate notifications and reminders for relevant users throughout the process.

As a company specializing in digital workflow software, KDAN offers a range of products well-suited for enterprises seeking to automate their digital processes. For instance, KDAN PDF Reader integrates Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, enabling businesses to swiftly scan and convert paper documents like journals, photos, and engineering plans into selectable and editable digital files for efficient storage. Additionally, KDAN PDF Reader supports multiple cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and KDAN Cloud, providing comprehensive cross-platform services for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac users. This allows enterprises to store large volumes of digital documents in the cloud securely.

By leveraging KDAN’s digital workflow solutions, businesses can create a seamless digital impression, streamlining operations and realizing significant time savings.

Step 4: Complete Testing and Implement Fully

Before fully implementing your new digital workflow, it’s crucial to conduct thorough testing. Apply the automated process to a single, short-term task to ensure that notifications and reminders are functioning correctly and that the workflow steps progress as intended. Once you are confident that the digital workflow operates as planned, you can proceed with implementing it within your everyday procedures for your team.

For example, when automating the resume review process, test your digital workflow on a single job posting with a limited set of fixed requirements. Verify that every resume recommended by the software meets these criteria and that no qualified candidates were inadvertently excluded.

Step 5: Review Performance and Make Adjustments Accordingly

To assess the effectiveness of your newly implemented digital workflow, leverage Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as progress trackers. KPIs provide an excellent means of ensuring that your automation efforts are contributing to your business goals. Unlike other data metrics, KPIs can be easily adjusted, a critical feature since digital workflows should evolve alongside your company’s changing needs and priorities.

For instance, a relevant KPI could be measuring the number of new customer accounts per quarter. An increase in this metric would confirm that your digital workflow for customer relationship management (CRM) is performing as intended, attracting and retaining more customers.

Additional Steps to Consider: Cultivate Employees’ Technical Skills and Digital Mindset 

After integrating the digital workflow into the company’s digital strategy, business leaders can provide employees with training courses related to the digital workflow to help them quickly get up to speed and understand how to adapt. In addition, training employees to adapt to the digital workflow can cultivate their digital mindset. Once everyone has established this mindset, it can further shape a comprehensive digital culture within the company, allowing the introduction of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, and digital tools to be more efficient in the digital future.

Partnering with KDAN to Increase Productivity by Automating Your Digital Workflow

KDAN specializes in offering a suite of digital workflow solutions aimed at helping businesses transition to fully digitized processes and operations. KDAN’s product lineup, including KDAN Office, KDAN PDF Reader, and DottedSign eSignature services, allows enterprises to incorporate digital tools throughout their workflows. By adopting KDAN’s digital solutions, companies can minimize reliance on paper documentation while simultaneously boosting workplace efficiency and improving overall operational performance. If you’ve grasped the concepts of digital workflows and are eager to partner with KDAN to advance your digital transformation journey, please provide your contact details to explore this opportunity further!


Elevate Work Efficiency with Digital Workflows

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