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The importance of User Experience (UX) in Business Process Automation

JUNE 26, 2023

Automation has become a critical component of modern businesses, offering numerous benefits such as increased efficiency, improved output, and cost reduction. However, it is crucial to understand that automation systems are designed to work alongside humans, making their jobs easier, faster, safer and smarter. In this context, evaluating user experience (UX) becomes an essential aspect of implementing a successful business automation process.

Unfortunately, UX is often overlooked in the pursuit of efficiency and productivity. This article aims to shed light on the significance of UX in business process automation and how low-code can support UX design.

User experience and Business Automation

Don Norman, widely regarded as the father of user experience, emphasizes the importance of considering users' needs and experiences when designing any product or system.

“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It’s a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all the stages of a product or a service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from the first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.” Don Norman, co-founder and Principal of Nielsen Norman Group

The same principle applies to business process automation. When implementing business process automation solutions, we often think about the automation itself – we want to automate work and integrate dataflows between users, interactions and systems. But we often forget the experience of the end users, such as employees, customers, and partners. As they will be the ones working with the workflow, connecting systems, data and people is important and we can’t afford to ignore user experience. We should strive to create a seamless user journey that ensures ease of use and satisfaction.

The benefits of a seamless user experience in business process management

1. Increasing adoption and integration

User experience plays a crucial role in driving adoption and integration of automated processes. When implementing automation, it is essential for users to feel comfortable and engaged with the system. Whether it is employees interacting with internal systems or customers and partners engaging with external systems, the experience should be positive. A well-designed UX can facilitate a smooth transition to automation and increase user satisfaction.

2. Beyond data flows: user journeys matter

Understanding how users interact with the system, perform their work, and navigate through the automation process is key to ensuring a successful implementation. By considering user journeys, businesses can identify pain points, optimize workflows, and create an environment where users can seamlessly adapt to automation. This exercise becomes crucial in creating automated workflows that actually improve efficiency and productivity.

3. Improved efficiency and productivity

Well-designed automation processes with a focus on UX can streamline workflows, reduce manual errors, and eliminate unnecessary steps or complications. This efficiency translates into time and cost savings, enabling businesses to allocate resources more effectively and maximize productivity. With increased efficiency, businesses can handle higher volumes of work, serve more customers, and generate more revenue.

Dynamic UX through models, not code

Case Management can be of major value when automating processes. One reason for that is that case modeling places the user at the center of the process. Case management provides a structured framework for managing and tracking complex tasks or projects. It allows for the efficient flow of information, documents, and tasks among various stakeholders involved in a case. This streamlines the workflow, reduces duplication of efforts, and improves overall productivity.

An automation platform that supports Case Management, such as Flowable, typically provides several models that support user experience. Flowable for instance, provides a centralized platform where information, documents, and communications related to a case can be shared and accessed by authorized individuals, tasks can be assigned, tracked, and more. This facilitates effective collaboration, reduces miscommunication, and fosters better teamwork. It also provides real-time visibility into the progress, status, and details of each case. This transparency allows stakeholders to have a clear understanding of the case's current state, activities completed, and pending tasks. It enables better tracking, monitoring, and decision-making throughout the case lifecycle.

Case Management can accommodate a wide range of case types and be easily scaled to handle growing volumes of cases. How does this support user experience, you might ask. It turns out, user experience is not a static state. As your business grows and your requirements change, so does the user journey. Using models, makes it easy to go back and change and adapt your workflow according to your needs. This scalability and adaptability make case management systems flexible and future-proof.

If you are interested in seeing what Flowable has to offer when it comes to improving user experience, watch my talk below:

How to incorporate UX in the creation of automation workflows

So, we’ve established that considering user experience (UX) when creating automation workflows is essential. Now, let’s look at some key considerations to keep in mind when creating new automation workflows:

1. Understand user needs

Start by gaining a deep understanding of the needs, goals, and pain points of the users who will interact with the automated workflows. If you are creating a workflow for internal purposes, include those departments in the process. Working in fusion teams creates the necessary understanding that will inform the design of the automation workflows.

2. Simplify and streamline

Focus on simplifying and streamlining the steps and interactions within the automation workflows. Identify and eliminate any unnecessary complexities or bottlenecks. Ensure that the workflows are logical, easy to follow, and minimize the cognitive load on users. Strive for clarity and simplicity in the user interface and interactions.

3. Intuitive user interface

Design an intuitive and user-friendly interface for the automation workflows. Use clear labels, visual cues, and appropriate feedback to guide users through the process. Consider the use of visual elements such as icons, color coding, and progress indicators to enhance usability and understanding.

Low-code capabilities can be powerful for streamlining application development, including UX design. Pre-built components, visual interfaces, and drag-and-drop functionality, enable developers to create user-friendly interfaces quickly. With low-code, businesses can prototype and iterate on UX designs, gather user feedback, and make necessary adjustments efficiently. This approach empowers organizations to align automation processes with user expectations and preferences effectively. developers to create user-friendly interfaces quickly. With low-code, businesses can prototype and iterate on UX designs, gather user feedback, and make necessary adjustments efficiently. This approach empowers organizations to align automation processes with user expectations and preferences effectively.

4. Error prevention and error handling

Anticipate and address potential errors or issues that users may encounter within the automation workflows. Implement error prevention mechanisms, such as validations and constraints, to guide users and prevent mistakes. Provide clear and meaningful error messages to assist users in troubleshooting and recovering from errors.

5. User feedback and iteration

Incorporate user feedback throughout the design and development process. Conduct usability testing and gather input from users to identify areas for improvement. Iterate on the automation workflows based on user feedback, ensuring that the changes align with user needs and enhance the overall user experience.

6. Training and documentation

Provide comprehensive training materials and documentation to support users in understanding and using the automation workflows effectively. Clear instructions, tooltips, and contextual help within the user interface can assist users in navigating and utilizing the automated processes.

7. Continuous improvement

Regularly evaluate the performance and effectiveness of the automation workflows in terms of user experience. Monitor user feedback, usage patterns, and performance metrics to identify areas for optimization and enhancement. Continuously refine and improve the workflows to align with evolving user needs and business objectives.

Conclusion

In the era of automation, user experience should not be overlooked. Successful business process automation goes beyond efficiency and data flows; it prioritizes the needs and experiences of the users involved. By focusing on UX design and considering user journeys, businesses can increase adoption rates, optimize workflows, and enhance overall user satisfaction.

Utilizing Case Management and low-code capabilities further supports UX design efforts by enabling rapid prototyping and iteration. Embracing UX as an integral part of business process automation will drive success and propel organizations towards a future of seamless and user-centric automation.

_R7A0156-2-Micha Kiener_web

Micha Kiener

Chief Technology Officer

Micha Kiener is the CTO of Flowable, responsible for shaping the company's product strategy and vision. With a strong passion for research and innovation, Micha drives Flowable's continuous growth.

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