Preparing for Process Automation


This article is intended to provide you with an understanding of the steps needed to convert a manual process flow into an automated workflow. For a deep dive into the Business Process Management (BPM) discipline, see our "BPM Guide."

Preparation before Automation

Start with the end goals in mind. Recognize that your initial workflow goals will never be perfect and that a healthy workflow will be fluid. Every workflow should be challenged over time as the organization matures.

Key Questions

  • The goals of this workflow are                           .
  • The departments, groups, or people this workflow will interact with are                          .
  • The department/person considered the “owner” of this workflow is                          .
  • The data/reporting needed from this workflow includes                          . (e.g. department, purchase category)

Document Your Process

Regardless of the size of your organization or the complexity of your process, it is important that your process be documented before you build it in Integrify. In most cases, even if the process has been documented in the past, at the time of your Integrify implementation, there are bound to be subtle variations and/or roles and responsibilities changes in the process now that may not have existed when the process was originally initiated.

If you are moving from a manual to an automated process, it is important to identify every task that is completed within a given process. Although a given task may not be represented in the workflow built into Integrify, it is still part of the process in some fashion. All responsible parties will need to understand what is required of him/her when assigned a task to complete in Integrify.

Documenting the process does not require the use of special tools or costly software (any word processor or spreadsheet will do).

Learn More About Documenting Your Processes

Workflow Creation at a High Level

  1. Sketch out what you believe the process currently looks like
  2. Include any people/positions that have a place in the workflow
  3. Include touchpoints/forms/data entry places

The following example is a bulleted list of the steps a company needs to put into place for an approval process when employees make purchases. The workflow proceeds as follows:

Example: A Purchase Order Request

  • An employee will start the Purchase Order Request and be taken to the first task which is the P.O. Request Form. The requester will enter information about the item(s) that need to be purchased, such as the type, quantity, and cost.
  • Once the P.O. Request Form is complete, the requester’s manager is assigned the task, Manager’s Approval. In this task, the manager will choose whether to approve the request, deny the request, or ask the requester to revise the form.
  • If the manager denies the request, the manager is taken to a form to the task, Manager Deny Comments to explain why the request was denied.
  • Alternatively, the manager may request more information from the requester and in that case, the manager is taken to the task, Needs Revision Comments where the manager describes the additional information needed, then the original form is assigned to the requester to update.
  • If the manager, instead, approves the request and the order is for less than $10,000, the flow proceeds to the task, Approval Notification, which sends out an email to the requester notifying them that the request was approved. After the email is sent the purchasing department receives the task Purchasing Dept. Form where they enter in the information about the order that was placed.
  • If the manager approves the request and the order is greater than $10,000, the CFO is given the task, CFO Approval where the CFO can either approve or deny the request.
  • If the CFO approves the request, the task, Approval Notification sends out an email notifying the requester that the order was approved.
  • Once the Approval Notification task completes, the task, Purchasing Department is assigned to the purchasing department and they complete a form indicating the order and shipping information.
  • After the purchasing department competes the Purchasing Department form, the task, Order Placed Notification is started which send an email to the requester informing them that the order has been placed.
  • The workflow will end if either the manager or the CFO rejects the request, or when the Order Placed Notification is sent out.

Once the steps have been documented, it is very helpful to have a visual representation of the process flow. If you have Microsoft Visio, using it will be the easiest way to create a workflow chart. If you do not own a copy of Visio, Microsoft Word’s “AutoShapes” will let you draw simple shapes and arrows. There are also many freely downloadable programs to create drawings such as Dia ( ) or UML Pad (

Now that your process has been well defined and you know what tasks are required within your workflow, it is recommended you record, at a minimum, the following additional attributes for each task:

  • Task Name
  • Task Type/Purpose
  • Recipient(s) – The group or individual(s) responsible for completing the task
  • Start Rules – The conditions indicating when the task should be assigned / is applicable

You can create a simple chart, like the following, to have on hand while you are building your process:

Task Name   Task Type/Purpose  Recipient(s)  Start Rules
P.O. Request A form to enter information about the purchase order. The person who starts the
request (i.e., Requester)
Process started
Manager’s Approval An Approval task: Manager chooses to approve, deny, or send back to requester for more information. The requester’s manager. P.O. Request form is
Needs Revision
A form where the manager can enter comments about why the P.O. Form needs to be revised. The requester’s manager. Requester’s manager
chose to send flow back to
requester for more
Manager Deny
A form where the manager can enter comments about why the request was denied. The requester’s manager. Requester’s manager
chose to deny the request.
CFO Approval An Approval task: CFO chooses to approve or deny request. The CFO Requester’s manager
approved the request and
the request is for more
than $10,000
CFO Rejection
A form where the CFO can enter comments about why the request was denied. The CFO CFO chose to deny the
Rejection Notification Send email notification that the request was denied  The requester Either the manager or the
CFO rejects the request.
Approval Notification Send email notification that the request was approved The requester The manager approves and
the order is for less than
$10,000 or the CFO
Purchasing Dept. A form that the purchasing department completes to indicate the shipping information. Purchasing Department Approval Email Sent
Order Placed Notification Send email notification that the order was placed. The requester Purchasing Dept. form

Other items you might want to consider for each task:

  • Verbiage/text for email notifications for each task requiring user interaction, including any data values contained in them that should be retrieved from the workflow rules or conditions that might drive a subsequent task (if/then). Will the task be repeated if the next step dictates it? (for instance, a rejection or re-work needed)

Now that have a well-defined process it is time to socialize it.

Socializing the Documented Process

Call a meeting (virtual or in person) for all individuals listed in your sketch.

  1. Display what you have sketched out to the team.
  2. Go over the process in detail from what you know.
    • Ask for clarification on steps, forms, and people/positions if what you have sketched is either incorrect or missing information.
    • Acknowledge that each group or individual is the subject matter expert (SME) of the task(s) they are to be assigned within the workflow.
  3. Document all the changes with information learned and distribute to team members.

Repeat the above, including new team members, if needed, that were not included in the original workflow as known to you.

Documents and Details Gathering

Meet individually with each person in the workflow to understand what their part in the workflow.

  1. Get a copy of the form(s) or screenshots of any data entry that is done for each step
  2. Take note of any potential overlaps, bottlenecks or dual data entry points that you notice

Workflow Finalization and Implementation

  1. Create the workflow within Integrify.
  2. Call a meeting with the entire team to go over the workflow at a high level.
  3. Individually or in group sessions, conduct training for each step.
  4. Celebrate and Go Live!