For decades, paper reigned as a key component to workflow processes, including the approval system surrounding travel and expense management. But as the world grows increasingly digital, organizations are finding new delights in the power of automation to streamline processes and transform the approval workflow system.
Filled with the potential to create a triple win—reduce costs, save time, and boost employee wellbeing—automation is also key for organizations that are thinking strategically, setting up plans, and keeping compliance in mind when turning the switch to automate.
This was the topic of discussion between Jeanne Dion, Director of the Value Experience Group at SAP Concur, and Siegfried Krause, co-founder of neylux. Krause’s company specializes in business travel and expense management and is also a certified SAP and SAP Gold Partner. Here’s what he and Dion discussed regarding how automation is revitalizing and improving workflow processes.
Workflow nerds rejoice!
Many organizations are eager to leave stacks of paper and tedious approval workflows behind. So when a customer came to neylux and requested a reset to essentially set up their business travel and expense management system in an automated and innovative way, neylux obliged.
“We built a solution,” Krause says. “It’s really straightforward. Everybody gets the information, what they need, but not by doing a formal approvals step.”
Instead, he explains, the system features passive approval that starts with employees entering key data. Once audit tasks are fulfilled at the end of the process, the manager gets a summary page and a PDF via email. If something seems amiss, the manager can address the issue with their staff at that point.
“We’re not directly stopping the process, but the manager comes at the end of the workflow,” Krause says. This automated setup allows processes to continue without the downtime involved with waiting for a manager’s signature too early in the process.
This automated process can also streamline the speed of reimbursement, Krause notes. While a manager can review and monitor the information, he explains, “We’re not stopping the process of financial posting [or] paying out to the employee, which was really important.”
Through automation, neylux helped a client organization decrease reimbursement timing from as long as three weeks to just one week.
I comply, you comply, we all comply
Automation done well involves much more than merely switching to a new toolset for expenses and reimbursement, Krause notes. When working with organizations that want to automate their workflows, he says, “We start [by] looking to the policy, to the goals they’d like to achieve, and then discuss a way we can achieve that.”
To successfully transition to a more automated system, best practices include accounting for regulations, establishing trust in the process and in employees, and recognizing the audience involved. “It’s a tiny process,” Krause says, “but it’s so important because everybody in the organization comes in a certain way to it.”
In addition, after implementing a change, it may be possible to combine systems and see more opportunities to use the tools, Krause notes. Looking a bit further ahead, he believes there will be even greater benefits coming from other advances like AI and machine learning.
“It’s just beginning,” says Krause. “With that kind of technology, we can really hit the next step in this process and get even faster.”