Best Practices for Building Workflows

Best Practices for Building Workflows

Lately, in the business sector, the term "workflow" has become a bit of a mantra. And, although the majority of business owners grasp logically why workflow is necessary, it is difficult to fully comprehend until you have seen how it actually functions.

Workflows can simplify and optimize repetitious company processes, reduce potential mistakes, and maximize efficiency throughout.

Then, next thing you know, the experience is produced that may come across as a "wow" moment during the client relationship journey. At that moment, the significance of workflow is soon realized. Although few argue the necessity of workflows, workflows typically need to be introduced in detail, and deployed accordingly, until people acknowledge that workflows are essential and are more than just an effective tool for process performance.

It's important to establish your workflows, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hurdles to overcome, like planning the world's largest New Year's Eve party, every appetizer, every drink, and all the security detail — along with thousands of other party specifics need to be considered ahead of time. The once-a-year blowout must be approached in the most precise manner for optimal results.

In addition, you need to cultivate techniques to help your company grow and differentiate your brand from your competitors. So then, what is workflow automation? Well, it is a mechanism to help with improving the quality, operating income, and daily processes of your organization.

Sequencing your operations by use of a workflow facilitates a deeper understanding of your enterprise at the highest possible level. How can you tell if your current process is delivering on your company objectives? Are your processes fully optimized?

Workflow has quickly become mainstream for many businesses because it helps to achieve deeper insight into your current processes. After that, you can use these observations to enhance your workflows and increase the profit margins of your company.

When workflows are set in motion, any necessary enhancements become a straightforward process. You then get a clearer picture of where better efficiencies can be constructed.

Effective workflows can also enhance interaction within your employees, and quantify productivity. Nonetheless, when addressing workflows, it is crucial to keep in mind how outcomes were actually obtained as opposed to only focusing on the formulas that have governed the work.

Further, workflows are vital for project management because they provide the ability to predict and evaluate results. Project managers have always embraced workflows because they often produce expected outcomes.

So, let’s dive into some best practices for building workflows.

Don't forget governance and compliance

Governance and compliance are pivotal to define before workflows are established. It's also crucial to know who has access to data within your company and where it can be located. When it’s audit time, you’ll be glad you followed this best practice.

Workflows do not have to be a linear process

If you bring up the term "workflow," many people will automatically expect a schematic diagram process. In this marginally defective, conventional process, the odds of variance are lower, but it is also limited to a linear fashion.

Realistically, it is a non-linear system because the design should enable the ability to return to the first step as needed. As a result, you can make adjustments even if you have reached the end of the process.

Schedule evaluations

To plan your reviews, it helps to think of how many workflows you have and divide that number by 12. Now, you have a better idea of how many assessments you need to make on a monthly basis.

When planning your evaluations, group workflows based on topics and specific processes. This helps to detect any contradictions between applicable policies.

Plan for potential bottlenecks

It's always important to prepare for discrepancies or failures. When mapping out your workflow, build in the potential for setbacks. You might have expired workflows or rejected edits.

Furthermore, it is also worth bearing in mind what takes place when a workflow is not implemented correctly. What if disruptions in production negatively impact clients? What happens next? What's the strategy if your programs freeze up, and you lose important data? It also makes sense to determine whether you can include reporting in your workflow. This can notably apply to financial workflows; reporting for auditing is key.

Segment your workflow steps according to your goals

Each workflow you build for your organization requires a specific set of critical steps. It is up to you to specify the priority of each given step. For instance, you might declare the point where a product will be invoiced or shipped. Then, your workflows can become much easier to manage over the long term.

In the event of an error incident, the associated team can simply focus on the prioritized steps. When results are needed urgently, categorizing your steps based on priority will improve processing time and streamline the workflow.

In conclusion

It goes without saying that you can't predict every single bottleneck. There will be issues to address. As you can see, it's important to maintain flexibility and make adjustments when the unexpected occurs.

Take the necessary time to accurately map your workflow so that you know what needs to be done when the processes deviate from your initial plan. Ensure that all team members are aware of their roles. If obstacles do come up, start with the right questions. Prior to making any final decisions, do a bit of investigative work.

And, finally, optimizing your workflows might be the very thing that propels your company far ahead of your competitors.

Originally posted on February 13, 2020

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