BEST WM Show S2 E3 Amelie Winkler Automation

“What is workflow automation anyway?” Find out in this episode of Appfire Presents: The BEST Work Management Show by Appfire. Amelie Winkler joins Appfire’s Kerry O’Shea Gorgone to explain workflow automation: what it is, how you do it, and how it can help you supercharge your team’s productivity.

About the guest

Amelie Winkler is a product marketing manager for Appfire’s Workflow and Automation apps Power Scripts and CLI. Experienced in B2B tech, SaaS, and developer data platforms, Amelie is passionate about helping companies be more productive and get stuff done.

About the show

The BEST Work Management Show by Appfire features smart leaders sharing their secrets for optimizing business processes and increasing productivity. Get the goods on how they handle everything from setting up workflows to automating processes. Every episode is 10 minutes or less, packed with insights you can use right away to supercharge your team’s productivity.

For your convenience, here is the transcript of this episode

What is workflow automation anyway?

Kerry:  Today we’re going to tackle the question what is workflow automation anyway. To help us answer that question is Amelie Winkler, product marketing manager for Appfire’s workflow and automation apps. She’s experienced in B-to-b tech, SaaS, and developer data platforms. She’s passionate about helping companies be more productive and get stuff done, so she is the perfect person to talk about this today. Stick around for 10 minutes of work management awesome.

Amelie, thanks for being here. So, what is workflow automation?

Amelie:  Thanks so much for having me, Kerry. I’m really excited. What is workflow automation? 

Kerry:  And why should we care?

Amelie:  Good question. Literally, if you go back to what the definition of automation is, it’s basically using machines or computers, using technology to operate or do a task without humans having to intervene. That already sounds pretty good, you’re not having to do anything.

Kerry:  That sounds perfect.

Amelie:  From an organizational level, what does it mean? It means that you give your team back some time so that they can focus on the actual work itself, as opposed to spending time on operational tasks or getting the business processes running. 

For example, if you have a new employee that needs to get onboarded, that is a business process. People might spend their time on making sure they set up the new employee’s email address, they set them up in the system, doing all of those tasks manually. A lot of that can be automated once you identify the different steps that are involved in such a process. If they keep recurring, it could be something interesting to consider to automate.

Kerry:  How sophisticated can automation get? Onboarding someone is pretty basic. What if you run a service desk or a big team of software developers and there are lots of processes happening that are a little more complicated, how nuanced can you get with automation?

Amelie:  That’s a really good question. I think the main thing you always need to consider before employing any automation is that you would want to look for what are the repetitive processes, what are some patterns that keep emerging. 

If there is a super complex process that happens once a year or something like that and it’s high stakes, you definitely don’t want to mess it up, maybe that’s not what you want to automate for the machine to just run through and no one has an eye on that. But if there are tasks that you can very easily say they keep on recurring that people have found continuously on their desks, information sharing for example, if you just always need to update someone after you finish something, maybe that’s something that you don’t want to keep in the back of your mind every time, that could be something that is very easy to automate.

If you have processes that are more complex, but they are recurring, you can also find ways to automate those. The important thing there is to check back with your team on what are the ideal steps and then making sure to find something that treats your needs. You wouldn’t want to just run some automation that in the end is going to make the work harder for the individuals.

Kerry:  I could see it working really well, like you were saying, for reporting and other internal communications. I know it’s possible to do for external communications, too, like service desk stuff or customer service things, which could be a little dicey if you mess it up or run it without checking it first.

Amelie:  Definitely. On the other hand, it also depends. There are also cases where you just want to inform a customer, for example, that their ticket moved to another stage. That is not something that is very risky, but it’s just good to keep the customer in the loop. If you have a ticket submission process, you could think about would you want to let the customer know that their ticket is now next in line, or in process, or being worked on. 

For example, many businesses have open roadmaps now, so there if someone has requested a certain feature, it’s great if they can see that the feature is now being developed. That is something, as you mentioned, that is external communication, not necessarily within the organization, but could be interesting to automate as well.

Kerry:  Why would you want to undertake this? I want to get into a little bit of how hard it is, how to do it, and that kind of stuff, but first, why would you want to I feel like is the order of operations here.

Amelie:  Yes. Why would you want to automate? It’s kind of very simple. If someone has to do a job over and over again, first of all, it’s going to waste their time. Secondly, it’s also quite risky. 

For example, we have one customer that they have to update quotes, and they have to manually update quotes from one Jira to their Salesforce. Previously, they did this manually by copy and pasting different fields from Jira to Salesforce, making sure that your copy and pasting is not messed up at some point. It’s also risky and it just takes a lot of time. 

If you find tools that help you to automate those types of processes, it can really help to free up your time to do things that really move the needle, not just on copy and pasting tasks. 

Kerry:  Fewer mistakes, it sounds like, so your work is going to be more accurate, too.

Amelie:  Yes.

Kerry:  Okay. So, that’s why you would want to. Is it really hard to do, do you need a team of coders to automate things, or is it easier? 

Amelie:  Good question. There are different levels. You can automate something very quickly and very easily with solutions that allow you to just drag and drop and find your standard automation in a very short amount of time. 

If you need something that is more custom, as you said previously, maybe you have a very complex workflow and you need something that really speaks to your team, or maybe you have a really large team or specific requirements from an organizational perspective, then you can get more complex if you’re employing some scripting solutions, but it definitely does need to be scripting. 

The good thing is you can even have different approaches. If you know that you just want to quickly knock something out, you can do it with an easier solution. Then maybe for some more complex use cases, you can feed in a scripting solution.

Kerry:  When you say it’s easy, is it drag and drop easy, like my level of easy, or is it easy if you know how to code a little bit?

Amelie:  It’s really everyone’s level of easy. I think with the easiest solutions, everyone can get in. Of course, in general, there’s the understanding that a lot of the automation you would want to make sure that there are certain permissions that are set. You wouldn’t want just anyone going in and automating all different types of tasks and approval processes and things like that which can be critical, but in general from a knowledge perspective, there are solutions that you really don’t need previous coding skills or specific knowledge to get started.

Kerry:  Amelie, you and I both work for Appfire, and we sell apps. Are there any especially good ones that you feel like people should check out for workflow automation?

Amelie:  Yes. As you said, we can recommend from our set of portfolios. JSU for very simple and easy solution to get started with your automation or, as I said, if you need something that is really quick that you just need to get started and hammer something out. If you want to get a bit more complex, you can use JMWE, which also has some level of scripting involved. If you really have a complex use case or you really want to customize things, you want to customize how your Jira looks, how the interface looks, then you can also use Power Scripts, which is a scripting based solution. For that, you would probably need to dial up your coding knowledge.

Kerry:  I will not, but thankfully you’re here, Amelie, so I’ll never have to. 

If you’d like more episodes of The Work Management Show, you can find them at If you’re interested in any of our fine solutions,

Amelie, thanks so much for being here today. I learned a lot. I’ll see you again soon.

Last updated: 2023-03-21

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