You will frequently hear these statements in any company. Manually managed workflows over email cause a great deal of misunderstanding. It can be challenging to determine the current situation and the next steps that need to be taken.
But in a contemporary organization, these quotes are unnecessary. When the real issue is a lack of effective systems, it breeds distrust and frustration.
Excellent companies effectively manage their workflows. An organization runs smoothly and can concentrate on more pressing issues than locating old emails when its core functions are well-defined and carefully managed.
Workflow Management: What Is It?
Workflow management is the creation and improvement of data paths to finish tasks in a specific process. Discovering inessential tasks, outlining the workflow in its optimal state, automating the procedure, and locating bottlenecks or potential improvement areas are all part of workflow management.
Fundamental Elements of a Workflow
A workflow consists of three fundamental parts.
A workflow’s predefined framework of tasks is called a step. They make clear what occurs at every workflow stage up until the end destination. Depending on the workflow, a step could either be automated or manual. Workflow steps can be either branched, linear, or both.
Stakeholders are the individuals who are in charge of completing particular tasks within the workflow. Stakeholders can be assigned to a single step, a set of steps, or the entire workflow.
Sometimes workflows entirely automate the steps, which reduces the involvement of stakeholders. Stakeholders only participate in the workflow under particular circumstances or whenever issues come about.
Conditions serve as workflow guidelines. They decide what should happen next and when a particular step is finished. Conditions are most helpful in workflows of the approval variety, where specific steps are overlooked depending on the data.
3 Fundamental Workflow Management Techniques
Every leader should place a high priority on workflow management because it affects the entire organization.
The following are three fundamental best practices in workflow management.
1. Clearly outlined processes
Every department and team have dozens or even hundreds of workflows. These workflows are dispersed among numerous employees and tools. When every employee in the company is aware of every workflow, that is a sign of effective workflow management.
Despite the fact that there is no requirement to automate every workflow, it is still advisable to document them. You can implement automation at the appropriate time without having to sift through a ton of software and emails.
Workflows vary in their degree of visibility and clarity. However, you should make an effort to recognize and record these workflows at all times.
2. Streamlined and prioritized workflows
Your highest-priority workflows ought to be operating at peak performance. They ought to be focused, nimble, and lean.
Begin with workflows that are focused on the customer, such as discount approvals and sales processes, or workflows that are focused on the employee, such as interviewing and onboarding. These are essential processes that significantly affect an organization.
Within these main workflows, supporting workflows are active. They ought to be given the following priority and should not stray from supporting their main workflows. For instance, the marketing’s department creative request workflows ought to be given less priority than crucial sales workflows.
3. Continual evaluation and improvement
Workflows can only be made extremely efficient via optimization. Irrespective of how sophisticated and data-driven your initial workflow-building effort is, it will still be ineffective. Paper-based workflows are inhuman and flawless. Real-time workflows are human-made and imprecise.
An organization with effective workflows is prepared to easily address all business objectives.
A Workflow Management System (WfMS): What Is It?
A workflow management system is a piece of software created to assist in streamlining standard business procedures for maximum effectiveness. Systems for managing workflows involve building a form to store information and automating a series of steps that the data must take to be fully processed.
Workflow tasks can be carried out by either a human or a system. It is difficult to know what you’ll get considering the numerous alternatives and products claiming to be workflow tools. What was once just a straightforward kanban project management tool is now presenting itself as a completely automated workflow system.
What Is the Purpose of a Workflow Management System (WMS)?
Here is what you should be looking for in a workflow management system (WMS):
- Enables people to automate tedious processes
- Automatically keeps tabs on incomplete tasks throughout the process
- Provides a broad overview of the workflow and performance indicators
A workflow management system should, at the very minimum, have these 10 crucial features if it is to deliver the true return on investment it guarantees. Don’t accept something that won’t keep up with your workflow and won’t increase productivity.
Ten Characteristics That Every Workflow Management System Must Have
1. Supercharge Development
Every workflow management system should allow for scalable applications’ quick and efficient development. It should be able to accommodate tons of users at a time, helping to streamline and optimize workflow management. The platform should also offer a wide range of innovative apps for both consumer and business use.
2. DMN 1.1. & BPMN 2.0. Standards
A crucial aspect of workflow management is accurately representing and understanding business processes. The use of standardized notations, such as BPMN 2.0 and DMN 1.1, allows for clear communication and efficient execution of tasks. The incorporation of these standards in a workflow management system helps streamline processes and improve overall performance.
3. DMN 1.1 Decision Engine
Incorporating a DMN decision engine into workflow management allows for the automation of business decisions. This improves efficiency and streamlines processes. The use of a universal standard, such as DMN 1.1, also helps facilitate collaboration between stakeholders and IT teams.
4. OCR Optical character recognition and IDP Intelligent Documents Processing
Incorporating intelligent document processing and optical character recognition technology into a workflow management system can greatly improve efficiency. This is by automating documents processing tasks, which frees up time for human employees to focus on more important tasks. Using leading technology solutions in this field provides users with the best workflow management experience.
5. No Data Modeling
A workflow management system should take a process-first approach. This allows users to design and implement tasks before focusing on data modeling. It streamlines the digital transformation process and leads to more efficient workflow management. Having a customizable user interface allows for further customization and improvement.
6. Organizational Structure
Incorporating an organizational structure into a workflow management system is crucial for managing permissions and roles within a company. This allows for flexibility when employees change within a department, but the overall function of the position remains unchanged. This ensures smooth and efficient workflow processes.
7. All-in-one Application
An all-in-one workflow management application simplifies the process and saves time. This is by allowing users to build, analyze, and modify all elements from one centralized location. Having a single, integrated platform rather than using multiple separate tools streamlines workflow management.
8. A Workflow Designer That Is Simple and Code-Free
When asked to design a workflow, a process owner will probably trace a straight line with the critical steps that need to be completed, each necessitating input, approval, or rejection. You can expect it to resemble an Oedipus family tree if you request a programmer to create software for a workflow for approving invoices.
An excellent workflow management system lets you think in uncomplicated linear loops while taking care of all the challenging responsibilities in the backdrop.
9. Form Designer With WYSIWYG
There is no justification for a form designer to be anything but fantastic in 2022. Drag-and-drop is a must. Furthermore, you require fields of every kind. Drop-down menus, text, maps, calculations, and more are included. If the workflow management system’s form designer doesn’t immediately impress you, you probably won’t use it for long.
Would you like to choose a form’s next actor for a task? Would you like a separate database to be linked to your form? Want to show real-time website data? The process of completing all of this ought to be very simple.
You do not need a consultant to guide you through your form designer; it ought to be easy to use and understand.
10. Syncing With Other Cloud Applications
For workflow management, integration was once a pleasant-to-have feature. It is now vital. Workflows are reliant on other processes to function.
It should be easy to transfer cash flows, calendars, documents, sales reports, and contact information from your workflow tool to your financial software, email, CMS, calendar, and other applications. Your workflow management system is already out of date if it is not remarkably simple to set up and integrate with other tools.
11. Cloud-Based Technology
The argument between on-premises and the cloud is essentially settled. Selecting an on-premise solution is like placing a bet on the future of MySpace.
Additionally, it goes beyond simply having access to your data from anywhere. It is about who is responsible for updates and upkeep. Compliance and data privacy is essential. Creating a relationship with a vendor instead of simply making a single purchase is the goal.
If you would like to have any chance of making your team utilize your workflow management tool, it must be available in the cloud.
12. Reports Based on KPIs
There are many workflow creation tools available that you can use. But you’ll require some reliable reporting features if you’re committed to actually reaching a higher productivity level.
When automating a workflow for the first time, you will enter a testing phase. There’s a chance that something that seems to be going smoothly will take much more time than you expected.
You might discover that you have to add a new step or that you already have far too many steps. Your WMS’s robust KPI-based reporting feature will enable you to identify bottlenecks and determine where to concentrate your efforts.
13. When and Where Do You Need Notifications?
Automated workflows are essential because you never have to push them. When a new process is initiated, it should continue uninterrupted until it is completed, much like a pinewood derby vehicle.
Notifications are the crucial component of this sort of flow. An efficient business workflow management system will notify you of impending approvals through the use of email or push notifications on your smartphone. Additionally, users ought to have the option to choose the notifications they want to receive.
14. Parallel Divisions
Although every workflow is sequential, some are special. Sequential events can sometimes take place simultaneously. Consider a purchase requisition or a travel request. It follows a rather predictable course, but what if you need to travel abroad? A different track for passports and other travel-related information might be necessary.
This degree of complexity should be simple to add and not call for a computer science degree. You ought to be able to add branches and make conditional tasks without difficulty right from the form.
15. Access Control Based on Roles
Sensitive data is frequently included in workflows, but isn’t meant to be shared with everybody. You should be able to tailor what each user can view and edit in every workflow management system. This portion of the workflow shouldn’t be broken by a quick change or have an impact on previous requests.
16. Price Transparency
Why would you spend a lot of money on software that might cost you more than its value? What about if you only wish to automate one task that involves a small number of people? Should you still need to make a sizable investment?
The ideal workflow management systems have a monthly pay-as-you-go business model, where the fees cover all operating expenses, and you only pay for the users who access the system.
A workflow tool is trying to determine how much money they can extract from you depending on your reputation and size if they won’t state the price on their website.
Select a tool that is transparent and won’t surprise you with high prices once the first invoice arrives. Take these ten things into consideration as you research your options. Whenever it comes to maintaining smooth and convenient workflows, don’t accept anything less than awesome.