Workflows are a natural part of life that help you achieve your goals. While you may not consciously think of every step required to do something as simple as making breakfast in the morning, there is still a process that goes from gathering the ingredients to placing a pancake on your plate. The same is true for business, and you need a workflow that your whole company can follow. To understand how to create a workflow, you first need to know what a workflow is as it relates to business.
A workflow comprises the steps needed to perform a task from start to finish. Think of it as a checklist and instruction manual for yourself or your team. Workflows may contain everything from filling out a form to getting approval for a work order to making a phone call.
You might think at first that your current processes are perfect and need no improvement. However, here are a few signs that you’re overdue for a workflow overhaul:
If any of these signs sound familiar to your company, you may be in need of a workflow upgrade.
Creating a workflow is simpler than you may realize: Simply follow a task from beginning to completion and note each step along the way. This natural workflow may not be very efficient at first. Remember that it is your base, a foundation upon which you build and polish a more streamlined process that benefits your company, your employees and your customers.
If you’re planning to create a workflow process that is the same for everyone across your company and makes the completion of tasks smoother, then you need to write it down and test it out. There are two main steps you can follow to make the writing easier:
Who is involved with each step of the task and what do they need to succeed? If you don’t know the answers offhand, you may need to spend time monitoring the task from start to finish. As you perform this preliminary research into your workflow creation, take note of any pain points. Ask the people involved if there is anything they notice that is unnecessarily complicated, or if there are resources that would make steps easier. It can be easier to drill down to the root of delays and bottlenecks in processes as a part of this analysis and discovery phase by asking “Why?” five times, a technique developed by renowned industrialist and inventor Sakichi Toyoda.
With your newly acquired resource and process information in hand, outline the steps of the process in detail. You may go through a few drafts of this outline as you make changes and ask for feedback. Involve the people who will be using the workflow in their day-to-day duties. Adapt any steps to make the workflow as simple and efficient as possible. This mapping step is vital to get as much right as possible about your workflows from the beginning and make your employees feel that you are listening to their needs.
Writing down steps is useful when you are keeping the information for yourself, but chances are high that you need to share this process with the rest of your company. These days, creating an accessible and easy-to-understand workflow means digitizing the process and making sure everyone knows what to do. You can do this by following a few easy tips.
You have a written workflow outline, but you need a way to automate the process so everyone involved can see the task in progress and know when they need to take action. Digital workflows make it easier to access this information in the office or out in the field, but there are a lot of different tools to choose from. Look for digital tools that allow you to house and access documents as well as create progressive, complex workflows that ensure subtasks are completed before the main task is marked as done.
It’s now time to implement your tool of choice by creating a test workflow using all of the steps from your outline. As you incorporate the different features of the tool to ensure certain tasks are completed before others, try running through a mock process yourself to determine if the program will meet your needs and that the steps flow organically.
The real test of your newly digitized workflow is to have your team use the program to go through the workflow and provide feedback on the process. It’s normal for minor snags to pop up along the way. When you do hit a hitch in the process, go back to the design phase and implement any solutions you or your team come up with. You may spend a bit of time in the design, test, and reassess stage before you transition the rest of your company to the new system.
Once your digitized workflow is up and running, you may wish to roll out the system to the rest of your company’s teams. If you are using an automated system that is new to your business, your employees will need to be trained on how to use the tool and what their role is. While this may take a time and resource investment up front, ultimately a streamlined workflow provides time and cost savings in the long run.
Just because you have successfully implemented a streamlined digital workflow process doesn’t mean the cycle is done. Make sure you are regularly assessing your processes and asking for feedback and ideas from those who are using the workflow to continuously improve the experience for your company and clients.
At Fluix, our solutions make it easier to not only create an automated workflow and instantly distribute documents but also to enhance team collaboration whether you’re in the office or out in the field. We offer support and resources to guide you through using our tools and making the most of your business model. Start a Trial on creating workflows, improving processes and more with Fluix solutions today.
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