Everyone knows that, like a well-oiled machine, your business operations perform at their best when all of the moving parts (operations) are neat and efficiently running. A managed structure of processes helps to keep a company afloat and headed in the right direction for years to come. Even as this as a given, many companies struggle to keep the efficient management of work top of mind. One tool that can keep business operations humming is workflows.
To put it simply, a workflow is a carefully developed pathway of communication and required actions that construct a business process for a company. Workflows are dependent upon these processes, carried out in purposeful succession, with all sequences building upon the sequence preceding it. Think of these as a map of a river with turns, forks, sights, and ports clearly defined upon the way. This keeps the river from becoming clogged with rafters in certain points while causing visitors to miss essential sights.
An excellent example of a workflow is the processes that commence during the hiring of new team members. The hiring process may begin with a technical recruiter receiving the resume and application of a C# developer. The completion of this step can lead up the chain to the approval of a hiring manager. Once approved, the work “flows” from the manager back to the recruiter to inform them that the manager like to interview said C# developer. (This particular workflow could greatly benefit from business process automation, the topic for another article.)
How Are Workflows Managed?
If workflows are like maps of a river, workflow management is the professional guide, hired to make sure that the rafts arrive safely to their destination while providing a quality experience. Workflow management, whether in the form of a specialist, software program, or both, makes sure that each spot in the journey is accomplished and that said tasks, order, or project receives the necessary attention.
Signs of Good Workflow Management
- The order is respected—each phase executed sequentially
- Complete transparency of action throughout the process for those involved
- A well-devised plan
- Careful reporting/record-keeping of operations performed, by whom, when, etc.
- Duplication of workflow actionable for more routine tasks
Workflow Management Systems
There are a variety of workflow management systems available to companies. Each system has its strengths depending on the style of work, the industry, and other factors. When deciding upon a quality workflow management system, one should keep their industry and desired capabilities in mind.