There’s no denying it: The past few years have been incredibly turbulent for businesses. The stresses of an unstable economy, shifting priorities, and reduced budgets have taken a toll on employees. Being forced to do more with fewer people, less time, and limited money has led to burnout.
Further adding to the stress? Customer demands for a digital-first approach are increasing. A recent study by Salesforce found that 88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services—up from 80% in 2020. Customers want the ability to serve themselves digitally through 24/7 access. Whether they're purchasing a product, registering for membership, submitting a service request, or scheduling appointments, customers expect easy, digital experiences and rapid responses.
But according to Formstack’s State of Digital Maturity report, businesses are struggling to digitize. It’s no surprise, considering leaders are dealing with tight budgets, limited resources, and time constraints. A digital paradox has arrived—forcing organizations to deliver innovation with skeleton crews and shoestring budgets.
Yet organizations like Plexus Worldwide, Texas Legends, SU Australia, and America’s Christian Credit Union are doing just that. How? Through the power of workflow automation. Kyle Judkins, VP of Technology and Entertainment at Texas Legends, explains:
This guide provides real-life examples from these organizations that show how they are digitizing processes to better address the needs of customers and employees. Get step-by-step guidance for building efficient workflows that can power all areas of your business.
The Benefits of Business Process Automation
Before we dive into the business process automation examples, let's review why it’s important for organizations to implement digitization and automation.
When customers visit your website to make a purchase or inquire about services, they expect seamless experiences with quick responses. In the age of Amazon, where everyone expects on-demand access and immediate service, there’s no room for complicated processes and delays. Research by PwC found that one in three customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience. If you require customers to fill out lengthy paperwork, manually enter data they’ve likely provided before, and wait for a response, you create negative experiences that will eventually lead to churn.
And customers aren’t the only ones who expect digital innovation and ease. Employees are just as likely to want digital-first experiences that eliminate paper pushing. Whether they work in HR, sales, operations, or IT, employees want to be free from manual work and paper processes.
In fact, our State of Digital Maturity report found that 72% of workers think inefficient processes negatively impact their job. When organizations lack digitization and automation, employees report higher levels of frustration, stress, and dissatisfaction. They end up devoting their time to mindless, repetitive tasks instead of more strategic, fulfilling, and impactful work. How much time exactly? An average of two hours per day, according to our research.
But the negative impacts of manual work don’t stop there. Just one employee wasting two hours per day on inefficient tasks costs your organization about $14,560 a year. For an organization of 100 employees, that adds up to more than $1.4 million. Is there room in your budget for that labor cost?
The best news is that automating your business process workflows doesn’t require a massive budget, timeline, or IT team. All you need is the right technology and a bit of guidance. That’s what this guide is here to provide.
How to Automate Business Workflows
Every team across your organization can reap the benefits of automation, from sales and marketing to HR and IT. With a tool like Formstack, you can easily build fully automated workflows that address the evolving needs of customers and employees.
The Formstack Platform empowers anyone at your company to achieve more in less time. With digital forms, document generation, and eSignature collection, you can quickly create solutions and automate busywork in one easy-to-use visual workflow builder. From completing daily tasks to creating org-wide systems and processes, you can build the workflows you need without relying on IT or needing to know how to code.
We specialize in helping organizations streamline critical business processes, which leads to better data management and higher ROI across teams and departments. Here’s how to use business process automation to improve workflows, save time, and impress customers.
Workflow Tip: You can build seamless, automated Salesforce workflows with Formstack for Salesforce, an all-in-one form, document, and signature solution for your existing ecosystem.
8 Examples of Business Process Automation
You don’t have to waste countless hours each week copying and pasting data, preparing paperwork, searching for files, sending emails, and entering data. By implementing the business automation workflow examples below, you can save around 17 hours per week.
What can you do with all that extra time? Focus on impactful work that improves not only your workday but the experiences of customers and colleagues. Let’s get started.
#1: New Customer Onboarding and Welcome
Customer experience greatly impacts retention rates, no matter the product or service you sell. In fact, 72% of customers will switch to a competitor after one bad experience. Quickly engage with prospects and make new customers feel welcomed with this new customer onboarding and welcome workflow. Automate every step of the process, from initial inquiry to signing agreements.
Products: Forms · Documents · Sign
Features: Conditional Logic · Themes and CSS · Electronic Document Signing
Templates: New Customer Registration Form · New Customer Welcome Letter · Customer Satisfaction Survey
Optional Integrations: Salesforce · Microsoft Dynamics · Lob
Step 1: New Customer Acquisition
Create beautiful, branded online lead forms that embed easily on your website and are fully mobile-optimized. The new customer form could be to contact sales, apply for membership, or request a quote. Use Conditional Logic to only ask necessary questions, which improves the experience and creates a shorter form. Add conversion optimization tools to your forms to identify bottlenecks, track campaigns, and capture data as it is entered. Trigger automatic responses to inquiries in seconds with personalized emails sent upon form submission.
Workflow Tip: If you’re a Salesforce user, consider using this workflow with our native Salesforce tool Formstack for Salesforce. It combines forms, documents, and eSignatures into your existing ecosystem.
Step 2: Welcome Packet and Letter
Providing the best initial experience is what turns new customers into long-term advocates of your business. Personalize a customer welcome packet with the new customer’s information by connecting Formstack Forms to Documents. Automatically generate final documentation—like compliance disclosures, contract details, or member agreements—and personalize marketing materials. To really make an impact, consider mailing a welcome letter with some helpful information as well.
Step 3: Customer Sign-off and Survey
If onboarding a new customer includes getting their sign-off on documents like agreements or contracts, it’s easy to add secure electronic signature fields to your documents. Upon return of the onboarding materials, you can automatically add new customer information into your CRM through one of our many integrations. After 30 days, consider sending a customer satisfaction survey to ensure you’re meeting expectations through your products and services.
#2: Invoicing and Payments
Streamline your back office efforts by creating a single, simplified invoicing process. Securely accept online payments with branded forms, and automatically generate receipts and thank you letters. Impress customers and make life easier for your finance team by automating everything from invoice generation and payment collection to receipt generation and customer follow-up.
Products: Forms · Documents
Features: Secure Online Payments · Automatic Document Generation · Dynamic Document Content
Templates: Blank Invoice Template · Authorization for Automatic Payment Form · Receipt Template
Optional Integrations: PayPal · SharePoint · Salesforce
Step 1: Invoice Generation
When it's time to send out invoices to your customers, simplify your workflow by generating documents with data housed in the systems you use every day, like Salesforce. Put Formstack Documents to work as your invoice generator and start creating sleek, professional invoices without needing any copying, pasting, or coding. Documents offers multiple delivery options so you can quickly share completed invoices with customers and automatically save copies in your CRM or cloud-storage app.
Step 2: Secure Online Payment Collection
Customers can quickly, easily, and securely submit payments through a mobile-friendly online payment form. Choose from a variety of payment options, and rest assured that billing information is captured safely with PCI compliant forms. Create multiple versions of your standard payment form, or use Smart Lists to manage field options for different business locations or brands across multiple forms.
Step 3: Receipt Delivery and Thank You
After payment is submitted, customers can receive a clear, concise, and personalized receipt straight to their inbox in minutes. This documentation can also be routed to your cloud storage or CRM for easy filing. Add an extra layer of security to your invoice workflow by adding data encryption to your documents. If customers are invoiced on a quarterly basis, consider adding in a personalized thank you note from their account manager with the Email Notifications and Confirmations feature.
Workflow Tip: Set your sales team up for success by directing this workflow to trigger when an opportunity is marked as won in Salesforce.
#3: Event Registration
If your organization runs lots of events, creating an efficient, enjoyable, and repeatable registration process is key to success. Impress event registrants and make it easier to capture and process guest data with this event registration workflow. Quickly gather the information you need from event attendees, accept payments, generate tickets, automate emails to registered guests, and follow up with an event survey.
Products: Forms · Documents
Features: Conversion Kit · Email Confirmations and Notifications · Discount Codes
Templates: Ticket Order Form · Event Ticket · Event Survey
Optional Integrations: Salesforce · PayPal · OneDrive
Step 1: Event Registration and Payment
Customers can quickly register for upcoming events online through a short registration form. Enable discount codes, add event fields for different ticket types, and embed your preferred payment processor to securely collect payments. Add Conversion Kit to access important conversion data that can help you fine-tune your form for maximum registrations. Keep your event planner in the loop about registrations by using data routing to send them data as it is submitted.
Workflow Tip: The event field makes it easy to regulate ticket sales. Once a ticket type is sold out, you can choose to display a “sold out” message or offer a waiting list option.
Step 2: Ticket Delivery
Connect your form to Formstack Documents to automatically generate event tickets for attendees. Easily update the ticket template to adhere to your organization’s branding and event theme. You can even make tickets a sponsorship opportunity by adding spaces for logos to the ticket template design. Email newly generated tickets to attendees immediately, and store copies for your records in your CRM or cloud storage app.
Step 3: Email Notifications and Survey
When building your form, you can set up automated email notifications in just a few clicks. No need to export any lists or integrate with your email system. Send registrants a confirmation email upon registration, then set a reminder email to send the day before the event. You can also send an email the day after the event with a link to your event survey to collect important feedback.
#4: Non-Disclosure Agreements
Keeping sensitive data confidential is a necessary part of doing business. When creating new partnerships, bringing on clients, or hiring employees, non-disclosure agreements play an important role in protecting your organization’s most important assets. Yet creating NDAs can be incredibly time-consuming and cumbersome work. Automate the entire process, from data collection and agreement creation to document signing and storage, with this non-disclosure agreement workflow.
Products: Forms · Documents · Sign
Features: CRM Document Creation · Document Data Encryption · Digital Signature Security
Templates: Nondisclosure Agreement Template · Noncompete Agreement Template
Optional Integrations: HubSpot · HawkSoft · Pipedrive
Step 1: NDA Creation
Use a secure online form to gather the new employee, partner, or client information needed to generate the agreement. If most of this data already exists within your CRM, you can connect Formstack Documents to dozens of CRMs—like HubSpot or Salesforce—to seamlessly pass data into your non-disclosure agreement. You can also use the Documents API to pull in data from your most-used systems and applications. Use conditional sections to automate agreement creation and adjust terms as necessary depending on the submitted data.
Step 2: Agreement Signing
Advanced document security ensures your agreements are protected from the moment of creation. Use Formstack Sign to securely gather eSignatures from anywhere, or have people sign documents in person if needed. Your legal and compliance teams will get a comprehensive electronic signature audit trail that logs all activity for each of your signed documents. You can also create a signature workflow if multiple participants need to sign the agreement.
Workflow Tip: Sign not only makes it easy to automate the eSignature process; it allows you to personalize notifications to end-users as well.
Step 3: Document Sharing and Storage
If you want document signers to take a particular action after signing their agreement, you can use signer redirection and Referrals to redirect them to a particular web page. Integrate Documents with your cloud storage of choice to store the official NDA upon completion of signing. Final copies will also be sent to all document signers. If you need to combine multiple documents as part of onboarding, use data routing to easily package the documents together.
#5: Donation Management
Empower your fundraising team by creating a simple, streamlined donation process. Securely accept online donations with branded forms, and easily create donor documentation, receipts, and thank yous. Give your team more time to focus on donors by automating everything from donation collection and receipt production to personalized letters and donor follow-up.
Products: Forms · Documents
Features: Secure Online Payments · Automatic Document Generation · Dynamic Document Content
Templates: Donation Form · Donation Receipt · Welcome Letter
Optional Integrations: Stripe · SharePoint · Lob
Step 1: Secure Online Donation
Donors can quickly, easily, and securely submit donations to your nonprofit or foundation through a mobile-friendly online donation form. Choose from a variety of payment options, and rest assured that donations are captured safely with PCI compliant forms. Create multiple versions of your standard donation form, or use Smart Lists to manage field options—such as program or donation level—across multiple forms.
Step 2: Donation Receipt Delivery
Within minutes, donors can receive a clear, concise, and personalized donation receipt straight to their inbox. Once this document automation is set, you can simply let it run in the background without any manual data entry or manipulation. Every time a donation form is submitted, the receipt generation will run automatically. If you rely on a CRM, like Salesforce, you could also set this donation receipt to generate using data from your CRM.
Workflow Tip: Use Salesforce and Stripe to set up a powerful donation form that can then be connected to Formstack Documents for receipt delivery.
Step 3: Thank You Letter and Follow-Up
Automatically customize thank you letters using dynamic content pulled from the data in your donation form, and send to donors within a week of donation. Easily manage mailings with an integration like Lob, which can automate printing, mailing, and tracking of personalized donation letters. Donor documentation can be sent to external storage, or data can be stored in your CRM, giving donor engagement specialists easy access to documentation and donor records. At the end of the year, advanced data routing can be used to compile an annual donor packet.
#6: IT Service Request
Nothing can slow down business like an IT issue. Ensure employee IT needs are addressed quickly and appropriately by creating a robust IT service request process. Easily collect requests, assign them to the correct team member, and track completions in Formstack or your project management tool of choice. Your IT team will appreciate the single point of data capture, and employees will be pleased by the speed at which their requests are processed.
Features: Conditional Logic · APIs and Webhooks · Data Routing
Templates: IT Service Request · IT Hardware Request · Employee Equipment Checkout Form
Optional Integrations: Trello · Zendesk · Microsoft Teams
Step 1: IT Service Request
Use Conditional Logic to build out a master IT service request form that branches into multiple scenarios, covering everything from equipment rentals and password resets to computer repairs and software assistance. If you choose to build out separate forms, use Smart Lists to quickly manage long, evolving lists of field options across all of your forms. Employees can quickly submit the request form from a phone, tablet, or computer.
Step 2: Data Routing and Job Assignment
Immediately upon form completion, the submitter can receive an automated email notification with their case number, IT rep, and expected service timeline. These details can be added to the automated emails by inserting hidden fields into the form that autofill based on logic and calculations. Data Routing can then send the form data to the employee responsible for the type of help requested. If your team uses help desk software to track IT requests, the form can be connected through one of our native integrations or by using the Forms APIs and Webhooks.
Step 3: Request Completion
Use multi-step Approvals to allow the IT rep to approve the request when completed and then send the data to their manager or department head for final sign-off if needed. Logic and skip functions can be easily added to customize each approval sequence based on request requirements. For instance, issuing a new laptop to an employee may need multiple levels of approval within IT as well as other departments, such as finance. Upon final approval and form submission, the requestor will receive any necessary follow-up in an automated message.
Workflow Tip: This is just one way you can streamline IT processes at your organization. Discover other easy ways to raise the bar on IT ops with task automation.
#7: Job Application and Hiring
Getting employees hired quickly is crucial to keeping your business operating smoothly. Ensure every applicant has a great experience by automating your hiring workflow. Easily collect applications, schedule interviews, review applicant data, and send out offer letters through one completely digital workflow. Your team can access all applicant information from a single source, control communications, and automatically alert applicants with status updates.
Products: Forms · Documents · Sign
Features: File Uploads · Data Routing · Dynamic Document Content · Multi Participant Signing
Templates: Job Application Template · Employment Offer Letter Template
Optional Integrations: Microsoft SharePoint · ShareFile
Step 1: Job Application
Start with our job application template and customize as needed. Use Smart Lists to manage evolving lists, such as job openings, locations, and departments. Securely collect files like resumes, transcripts, and driver's licenses with File Uploads, and add Save and Resume to allow applicants to work on their job application over time. Use Email Confirmations and Notifications to automate email messages across applicants, the HR team, and hiring managers upon form completion.
Step 2: Candidate Selection
By adding a workflow to your form, you can assign team members for each interview and collect their feedback within a single form. Recruiters or hiring managers can select to move an applicant forward or not, which then sends the appropriate messages automatically. Emails are sent within seconds of data submission, ensuring applicants are always alerted quickly about status updates and where they are in the process.
Workflow Tip: You can duplicate this workflow and tweak it as necessary for other types of hiring workflows, such as internships or short-term contracts.
Step 3: Employment Offer Letter
Once an applicant is selected for a role, you can automatically generate an employment offer letter with Documents. Use Dynamic Document Content to adjust contract terms, role information, benefits, and other details based on data collected from the job application form. Send the final document through Sign using Multiple Participant Workflows to gather signatures from the new employee, HR team, and hiring manager. Upon employee signing, easily redirect them to a welcome message or new employee section of your website.
Bonus: Forget the days of tracking new employee form completion through a spreadsheet. Formstack’s Portals tool is an intuitive web portal system that acts as an easily accessible hub for your forms. Set automated reminders, track completions, and provide employees a one-stop shop for their entire onboarding experience.
#8: Customer Feedback
Gathering customer feedback is an essential part of improving your business. It’s one of the only ways to know for sure if you’re meeting customer expectations. Yet many organizations don’t capture feedback on a regular basis, or they use a poor process that makes it difficult to provide input quickly and effectively. With this automated workflow in place, you’ll be able to not only collect more feedback but respond to it quickly to address customer needs, wants, and concerns.
Features: Portals · Partial Submissions · Mobile-Friendly Forms · Field Prefill
Templates: Feedback Form · Customer Experience Survey · Customer Satisfaction Survey
Optional Integrations: Salesforce · Google Sheets · OneDrive
Step 1: Customer Feedback Collection
Integrate multiple opportunities for customers to leave feedback by building out various types of feedback forms. Build a branded, mobile-friendly feedback form that you can link in the footer of your website and embed on your contact page. Use the Rating field to create a simple survey to calculate your net promotor score (NPS) or measure customer satisfaction. Add Field Prefill to improve the form filling experience for customers by auto-populating common information, like customer name and email.
Step 2: Data Routing and Responses
Use Routing Logic to send customer feedback to the correct departments upon submission. For instance, if someone reports an issue with billing, the submitted data can be routed to the finance department for resolution. When collecting NPS, you can trigger an Email Notification to the account rep or customer service department when a score under seven is submitted. Ensure customers feel heard by automating personalized responses based on their feedback.
Step 3: Feedback Sharing and Storage
Customer feedback gathered over time can be accessible from one location, making it easy to see trends. Data can be analyzed in the backend, exported to Excel, or integrated with tools like Google Sheets for further analysis. Use Advanced PDFs to create official feedback records to upload into cloud storage, or integrate your forms with a variety of tools to send data where it needs to go.
Workflow Tip: If you use Salesforce as your CRM, you can automate your customer feedback process using Formstack for Salesforce.
Start Automating Business Workflows Now
Don’t let inefficient processes burn out your employees and deter customers. By investing in business process automation, you can build repeatable, efficient systems that improve employee morale, impress customers, and save your organization time and money.
Ready to take your workflows to the next level? Our visual workflow builder makes it simple to create, test, and launch any process your business may need. Get started now with a 14-day free trial or talk with one of our workflow consultants about how to accomplish your goals through workflow automation.