Would you be surprised to learn that only 12% of workers are fully productive for more than 6 hours a day? Your teams do strive to provide top-tier services and products while streamlining operations. So what's holding them back? Inefficient workflows may be a factor.
Many traditional workflow tools are complicated and rigid, providing little agility for companies that need more efficiency. The cloud has revolutionized business and workflow efficiency, enabling small and mid-sized companies to work faster and compete with large enterprises. The cloud also empowers large enterprises to improve their agility and efficiency.
Cloud computing allows your company to implement new processes faster, simplify data storage and workflow infrastructure, and empower team members to focus on the company's most valuable tasks. Understanding how to improve workflow with cloud storage helps you make the most of your business processes.
The cloud has made improved workflows possible for everyone
Your team completes several tasks every day, many of which are repetitive and time-consuming. A workflow is a series of tasks that moves a project from one step to another. Business workflows aim to simplify and speed up the processes your team regularly accomplishes.
Workflows streamline projects like creating contracts, obtaining technical support, and approving invoices. Improving workflow efficiency enables team members to work faster and produces more reliable performance in essential, everyday tasks.
Workflows have historically been accomplished through manual processes. When a team member wanted approval for a request for expense reimbursement, they would hand-deliver their request to the correct department, where someone would read and either approve or deny it. The team member might receive a paper check for reimbursement or a written explanation of why the request was denied. Accomplishing routine tasks this way could become repetitive, lead to more mistakes, and take time away from more profitable work.
The impact of digital transformation on small businesses
The rise of digitized workflow tools improved daily business operations, but only for larger enterprises and organizations that could afford to implement them. Automated, computer-enabled workflows are a significant improvement over manual workflows of the past. Companies could always use complex enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to manage projects in accounting, order fulfillment, and compliance. Yet these systems were once only accessible to businesses that could afford the automation software needed and required significant amounts of time and IT expertise to implement.
The cloud has changed everything, removing many barriers smaller companies faced in creating automated workflows. Cloud computing enables:
- Faster implementation
- Quicker updates of everyday business processes
- A seamless user experience
For instance, team members may use the cloud to fill out a few fields in an online expense reimbursement request form and submit it electronically. The cloud system then scans the request for specific keywords and determines whether the document meets the requirements for approval.
Organizations of all sizes use the cloud, from small businesses to global enterprises. The cloud is a cost-effective solution that reduces infrastructure costs, labor demands, and implementation time. Cloud computing is user-friendly and allows people with little IT experience to complete customizations. These features make a cloud workflow more accessible to all companies, putting small businesses in competition with large ones by providing companies of all sizes the digital tools to level the playing field.
Cloud-based workflow platforms are hosted by cloud service providers that rent cloud storage space to organizations and handle infrastructure maintenance in return. This setup allows businesses to reduce their initial investment and free themselves of some of the regular upkeep costs of other workflow solutions.
Using the cloud is as simple as subscribing to the cloud platform service of your company's choice, logging in, customizing your workflow setup, and getting to work. Decreased manual steps allows companies to quickly improve their workflow efficiency.
Cloud workflows have several attributes that make them suitable for companies of all sizes. The cloud is highly scalable, for one thing. Cloud service providers use large data servers and offer varying amounts of cloud storage and other platform features based on the cloud subscription plan. As your company grows, it can increase its cloud subscription to better meet changing demands. This adaptability is more cost-effective than purchasing or developing new software when needs change.
Legacy systems offer little flexibility, forcing organizations to adapt their processes to fit the workflow's narrow features. If your company needs certain functions the in-house system doesn't include, it has to create workarounds. A cloud workflow system provides plenty of room for customization. Most cloud systems provide user-friendly customization features like drag-and-drop and other workflow tools, so your company can optimize its workflow in the way that best suits your teams.
On-premise software and manual workflows tether companies to one place. When team members must walk down the hall or have in-person meetings to communicate with others in the company, they waste valuable time and create an unnecessary hassle. The cloud enables authorized users to collaborate in real time from their locations, whether in the same building or different countries. Company stakeholders use cloud workflow integrations to access all of their applications from the web-based cloud platform, enabling faster collaboration from anywhere.
The cloud also provides a central location for every business document and file. Manual workflows rely on filing cabinets, while on-premises software maintains your business's data in large servers. The cloud puts all business-critical documents in an accessible, online database that any authorized person can access. Team members can open, read, and edit files for projects before transferring them to the next stakeholders along the line. This web-based centralization means your people don't need to maintain physical files or data servers.
The cloud is more reliable and secure than manual workflows and legacy software systems. Manual processes are easily interrupted, while standalone servers are prone to failure and require expensive backup systems. Cloud service providers frequently create duplicates of company data and manage server maintenance to ensure redundancy and accessibility.
A cloud workflow also offers security measures like user authentication, role-based accessibility, and data encryption to keep unauthorized users out. The security and reliability of the cloud ensure your confidential data is protected and usable.
How does the cloud speed up workflows?
Perhaps your company's current workflows depend on inefficient manual or on-premises systems, or maybe you have workflows that work, but you want them to be faster. The cloud improves workflow efficiency through several features that allow team members to speed up, automate, or eliminate repetitive tasks. These features include automation of routine tasks, integrations with your other business applications, faster request processing, standardization, and improved visibility into your workflows.
Consider a few ways the cloud speeds up workflows:
Automation is crucial for streamlining workflows. Many daily processes your teams complete may be automated to save time. Repetitive tasks like document approval, assigning tasks, and sending reminders take up your team members' time and energy. Yet these actions are necessary parts of your company's operations.
Fortunately, automation is an effective solution. It enables team members to spend their energy on more productive and creative activities that add greater value to your organization. People save time, reduce mistakes, and increase profitability by adding automation to their cloud workflow.
Specific processes work best with automation, like repeated or frequent tasks that interact with digital content. Actions related to creating, modifying, and interacting with documents are all excellent places where automation can improve your business processes.
Another opportunity for automation is in any process that involves multiple people or steps. Automating these tasks and other tedious actions lightens the load on your team, allowing them to reduce multi-step processes into one or two steps.
The cloud also automates system updates, helping your company maintain top performance with minimal intervention. Users can allow automatic cloud upgrades and schedule them to reduce downtime so they always have access to their business-critical data.
Other performance upgrades like scaling also benefit from automation. Legacy systems might slow or crash if users grow quickly, and manual workflows are limited by your team members' physical capacities. The cloud facilitates seamless scaling as high as your company needs, so you always have the necessary computing power.
Overall, automation provides several benefits, like reducing paperwork, minimizing errors, and boosting performance. Manually completing tasks may result in more frequent errors, since people are more prone to making mistakes when they repeat the same tasks over and over. Eliminating these repetitive tasks improves team performance and reduces time spent correcting errors.
Cloud automation tools enable easier collaboration through workflow templates and customization features that speed up repeatable tasks. Team members gain a view of the project's progress at every stage, so everyone always knows the status of the project. Whether your team needs to manage simple tasks or tackle complicated processes, automation tools streamline the work.
Your business likely uses multiple applications and software to accomplish its daily tasks. Apps enable many kinds of work in the cloud, from document creation and editing to customer relationship management (CRM).
Integrating cloud applications and other software programs with on-premises solutions requires significant work from your IT team. The cloud enables easier integration by providing a single platform through which users can access all your organization's applications, programs, and other digital tools.
Switching between applications and software to share ideas, edit files, and perform business tasks disrupts the daily workflow. Synthesizing work across multiple databases that don't work well together makes it challenging for your people to perform at their best. The cloud streamlines access to business applications, cutting down on interruptions and placing every tool your team needs at their fingertips.
The cloud allows companies to manage all of their content in one location, no matter where they created or shared it. Some cloud workflow systems include integrations with hundreds of applications, enabling companies to connect all of their content in a single web-based location. Easy integration also improves communication between business departments, increasing productivity across your company.
Fast data processing is essential in today's business climate. Retailers need to receive orders and update inventory in real time, and team members require speedy reminders. Moving quickly on potential customers increases the chances of closing the deal. Your company needs fast data processing and reliable access to documents to accomplish all these tasks.
Capturing and synthesizing data in all its forms, formats, and origins might be a struggle, especially as your organization adds more software and tools to its tech stacks. The cloud makes it easy to process data and streamline workflows.
According to a survey, 44% of IT professionals listed their IT operations' general cost and performance as the top motivation for switching to the cloud. Others see application performance as the top concern. The cloud's lightning-fast processing capabilities solve these problems and more.
On-premises data servers can process a limited amount of data before their performance slows or stops. Moving to the cloud solves this issue by turning over server maintenance and upgrades to the cloud service provider. Cloud providers have dedicated teams for managing the cloud around the clock, increasing uptime and relieving your company from the pressure of keeping servers in top shape.
Integration is another feature that enables fast processing through the cloud. Integrating all of your company's applications and databases speeds up data capture and reduces processing time. You can also subscribe to a customized cloud solution plan to benefit from even more integrations.
Inefficient workflows, out-of-date practices, and obsolete documentation accumulate over time. These developments slow down your company's operations and keep it from efficiently moving toward its goals.
Organizations improve their productivity by regularly examining their processes and technology to determine what works and doesn't. Switching to the cloud allows your organization to take advantage of streamlining tools, pare down your processes, and standardize regular practices to improve workflow efficiency.
Standardization is one of the main functions of the cloud. Standardization is the process of making applications more connected and simplifying workflows, which increases productivity by limiting inefficiencies. For example, it's tedious for team members to create new contracts each time they close a new deal. It's much more efficient to develop a standard contract template and implement a process for adjusting it as the client or situation requires. The cloud makes this process easier by enabling users to scale their own workflows.
Flexibility and scalability are highly valuable traits for today's businesses, and standardization helps meet those goals. If your company can streamline its process for meeting demands and adjust its practices to maximize productivity and profitability, you have the power to grow in more agile ways.
Companies moving to the cloud have the opportunity to centralize, reorganize, and improve their data collection by creating standardized practices. A cloud environment encourages your teams to standardize their processes and workflows as much as possible to prioritize efficiency.
When your organization standardizes its workflows, best practices, documentation methods, and other processes in its cloud workflow, it reduces tedious work for team members and enables faster workflows. The more your company standardizes and saves on the cloud, the more it can streamline its processes and reduce errors.
Workflow bottlenecks are caused by small administrative tasks that prevent your workflow from progressing. Bottlenecks are often the result of having insufficient resources to accomplish tasks promptly or using inefficient processes that take too long. Whether your company has too few team members or ineffective technology, bottlenecks cost time and waste money. Preventing these situations is ideal for moving processes along and accomplishing the most you can.
Manual workflows are notorious for creating bottlenecks. Manually obtaining signatures for a contract, for example, is often time-consuming, requiring phone calls and emails back and forth to the stakeholders involved. If the process takes longer than expected, it can be challenging for team members or the project manager to track down the source of the delay.
You can use several methods to prevent bottlenecks, like optimizing your cloud workflow to move daily tasks along. In a cloud workflow for signing contracts, users integrate e-signature applications into their cloud solution to move document signing to the digital space. Using e-signatures simplifies the contract approval process. The cloud also provides insight into how team members work and at which stage a project stalls, enabling leaders to address problems quickly.
Another critical way the cloud improves workflow efficiency is through visualization. Manual workflows provide little to no visibility into a project's progress. Many processes in a manual workflow take place in silos, with limited communication. This lack of communication is because manual workflows require people to complete tasks by hand, making it more challenging to keep multiple people informed of the project's movement without taking additional time.
Workflow visualization helps your people maintain project momentum, but even a physical workflow visualization chart requires manual updates. Physically updating a progression chart often falls by the wayside before project completion as team members become busy with more valuable tasks, leaving others with little idea about the project's progression. The cloud provides enhanced visualization of your company's workflows, keeping everyone organized and on track.
Organizations use cloud features to see their projects' progress and make adjustments where needed. Some cloud solutions provide the ability to create project timelines to see into a workflow's history. Updates require no manual input and use advanced integrations with other content databases to seamlessly bring project timelines up to date. Visualization at this scale empowers your teams to increase workflow efficiency and gain control over their processes.
Work quickly and efficiently in the cloud
Switching to the cloud helps your organization increase workflow efficiency. Cloud workflows have revolutionized how businesses operate, empowering them with greater security, flexibility, and scalability for their data. Your team benefits from the automation, processing, and standardization tools that make content in the cloud easier to work with. Other cloud capabilities like integrations, visualization, and preventing bottlenecks make work smoother for your team members.
The cloud is accessible to more companies than ever, and many have already realized the power of the cloud. Working in the cloud gives your company the advantage it needs to achieve more.
Discover the power of the Content Cloud
With a single secure platform for all your content, Box enables you to manage the entire content lifecycle: file creation, co-editing, sharing, e-signature, classification, retention, and so much more. We make it easy for you to collaborate on content with anyone, both inside and outside your organization. Frictionless, enterprise-grade security and compliance are built into our DNA, so you get total peace of mind that your content is protected. And with 1,500+ seamless integrations — as well as a range of native capabilities, like Box Sign — the Content Cloud provides a single content layer that ensures your teams can work the way they want.
The Content Cloud is a game changer for the entire organization, streamlining workflows and boosting productivity across every team. Contact us today, and explore what you can do with Box.
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**While we maintain our steadfast commitment to offering products and services with best-in-class privacy, security, and compliance, the information provided in this blogpost is not intended to constitute legal advice. We strongly encourage prospective and current customers to perform their own due diligence when assessing compliance with applicable laws.