Why Automating 3 Processes Frees Teams Up for High-Value Work

by Katy Beloof

It’s important for workers to have the opportunity to improve work processes and increase efficiency so that businesses can consistently move faster and innovate. Automation can help free workers up to focus on more valuable, high-impact tasks that help propel their teams, departments, and organizations forward.

Information workers spend a significant amount of time on manual, repetitive work. More than 40% of respondents to a survey said they spend at least a quarter of their work week on manual, repetitive tasks. And nearly 60% of information workers estimated they’d save at least six hours each week if these aspects of their jobs were automated.

Those same information workers also see the potential benefits of automation. Sixty-nine percent think automation will reduce time wasted on repetitive work, and 66% say automation will help eliminate human error. Over 75% of respondents say automation will free up time for more interesting, valuable assignments — work they are eager to tackle.

Businesses need a strategic plan to implement automation that replaces manual, repetitive tasks and unlocks time for more valuable, creative work. Instead of waiting for advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to solve for these challenges, organizations can take action now in three distinct areas: data collection, approvals, and update requests using intuitive, automated workflows.

1. Automate Data Collection to Eliminate Error

Simple screenshots of Smartsheet forms

When asked which tasks they would like to see automated, 55% of workers said data collection, 52% said collecting and tracking data, and 51% said data entry or filling out forms. (Survey participants could select multiple tasks.)

Automating data collection not only saves time for information workers, but also helps eliminate the human error rampant in manual data collection and data entry, and minimizes risk when managing information at scale.

Smartsheet forms provide information workers with a method to collect error-free, consistent, and organized data from anyone via desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Workers can quickly and easily create and customize forms using a simple yet powerful form builder.

Any captured data is then saved to Smartsheet in a structured and inherently sharable format, meaning employees can easily review and analyze information and take immediate action.


Using Forms in Smartsheet

2. Automate Approvals to Move Processes Forward

Obtaining approvals, whether for a budget line item or requesting time off, is another process that workers are eager to automate. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed wish they could automate getting sign-off or approval, and 30% would like to automate follow-up on their requests.

When looking for a tool to automate approvals, look for solutions with simple rules that any employee can use, without needing to write code, utilize complex formulas, or phone a friend in IT.

Smartsheet automated workflows empower you and your team to easily build multi-step automated approval processes that are triggered based on preset rules. Using this capability, you can combine multiple actions into a single workflow in order to reach stakeholders from different departments who are connected to your project, process, or program.

Once set up, automated approval requests can go out to a manager, key stakeholder, or customer. Approvers can easily field and approve (or deny) the request from any device, to keep the process moving forward.


Automate Your Workflows in Minutes and Save Hours

3. Automate Updates to Increase Team Throughput

Example screenshot of a Smartsheet automated workflow

Another repetitive task that workers are eager to automate: providing status updates to managers. Because they spend a lot of time keeping people up to speed, 32% of respondents want to automate status updates. This lets them easily keep everyone in the know, without the needless distraction that comes from constantly popping in and out of email. Automating status updates in Samrtsheet creates a digital record of what’s been approved and lets teams reference corresponding sheets for key details.

Smartsheet automated workflows enable workers to easily set up automated updates to prompt users to give updates on status or other critical information in order to keep work moving forward. Rather than facing delayed status updates, these updates trigger requests to the right people, at the right time, based on preset rules.

Foster Innovation and Creativity With Automation

Now is the time for organizations to automate work processes and free up workers to focus on more high-value work. What innovative, high-ROI  tasks could your employees produce if you added almost an entire day back into their week? How could they contribute to the success of your organization if they weren’t bogged down by repetitive administrative tasks?

An overwhelming majority of workers — 97% — believe automation can benefit their organization. And they’re ready to show you what’s possible.