Workflows are a versatile, customizable tool used by businesses of any size to enhance efficiency, productivity, and project management, ensuring consistency and compliance.
A workflow serves as a roadmap that defines a structured series of steps necessary to manage a process from its initial stages to completion. When designed properly, workflows help companies reduce costs and maintain a competitive edge in a rapidly evolving world.
In this article, we will explore a definition of a workflow, and see the key principles and strategies for creating a workflow process.
A workflow definition is a broad term that can encompass various contexts. It typically comprises the activities needed to perform a task from start to finish. Workflows can involve different steps, from filling out a form to getting approval, and can be applied across multiple industries and use cases.
Here are some reasons why companies may want to introduce workflow automation to their operations:
If any of these issues apply to your company’s current state, you may need a workflow upgrade.
If you plan to create a workflow process that is the same for everyone across your company and aims to make task completion smoother, you need to document and test it. There are three main steps you can follow to make the writing process easier:
Identify people involved in each step of the task and determine what they need for success. If you don’t have this information available, consider spending time observing the task from start to finish.
Consult the individuals involved, and inquire if there are any aspects that appear unnecessarily complicated, or if there are resources that could streamline the process.
Outline the steps of how to create a workflow in comprehensive detail. You may go through multiple drafts of this outline as you make changes and seek feedback. Engage the individuals who will be using the workflow in their day-to-day responsibilities, and adapt the steps to ensure the workflow is as simple and efficient as possible.
This mapping phase is critical for establishing a strong foundation for your workflows from the outset and for demonstrating your commitment to addressing the needs of your employees.
Considering integrations between tools is crucial for designing a seamless and interconnected operational environment. If you use different systems for data management, for example, a CRM, a data collection tool, and analytics software, integration between them facilitates the flow, eliminating the need for manual data entry and reducing the risk of errors.
Furthermore, integration contributes to cost and resource optimization by minimizing redundant tasks, ensuring adaptability to existing infrastructure, and supporting scalability as the organization grows.
Workflows can help eliminate bottlenecks and improve productivity, provided they’re well-designed and optimized for your business processes.
Even if you’ve never created workflows or used automation before, modern automation software, for example, Fluix, allows you to have an easy start thanks to its intuitive interface and step-by-step guidance.
Many workflow automation tools also offer pre-built templates for common processes. Explore these templates to see how workflows are structured and gain a better understanding for your own projects.
Learning from examples of workflows in your industry or similar processes helps as well by showcasing how others have implemented automation. You can find some of them further in this article.
Here is how you can approach workflow creation in 10 steps, ensuring compliance with your business goals.
Get a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with the workflow. Identifying your objectives will help you tailor the workflow to your specific needs, and set proper expectations and due dates.
Break down your general goal into smaller steps. For example, if you automate the onboarding process, the steps might include document collection, training, IT setup, and HR orientation.
To write an effective workflow, you need to know how things operate now and where possible bottlenecks occur most often. Document the existing processes to have a baseline to work with.
Based on the previously mentioned analyzes, discover redundancies and inefficiencies. Ask for feedback from people involved in these processes and consider their suggestions for improvements.
Clearly define the roles of each team member involved in the workflow. This ensures that everyone knows their part in the process, reduces confusion, and helps assign accountability for each step.
Select the appropriate tools and software to support your workflow. Look for digital tools that allow you to house and access documents as well as create 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 process. As you incorporate the different features of the tool to ensure certain tasks are completed before others, try running through a mock process. It will help you determine if the tool meets your needs, and if 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.
It’s a good practice to 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.
Once the workflow is in place, establish a system for monitoring its performance. Collect data, gather feedback, and regularly evaluate the workflow’s effectiveness. Use this information to make ongoing improvements and adjustments.
Keep in mind that workflow steps may vary based on your industry and specifics of the processes you’re automating. For example, they may include risk analysis, integrations, or scale-up plans designed to handle increased workloads.
Take a look at some workflow examples to see the different applications of workflows in industries and functions.
The punch list workflow is the final sweep before declaring a project complete. It involves creating a checklist of minor tasks or issues that need attention or correction.
The quality inspection workflow involves a series of checks and tests to guarantee that products or processes meet predefined standards.
The employee onboarding workflow is designed to welcome new team members into the team, automating steps from paperwork to training sessions.
The equipment inspection workflow aims to identify potential issues, ensure compliance with safety regulations, and schedule maintenance.
The Capex approval workflow involves a systematic approval process for significant investments, ensuring that capital expenses align with the organization’s goals and budgets.
The safety toolbox talk workflow facilitates open discussions on safety protocols that cover specific safety topics and best practices.
Like other workflows, these examples underscore the crucial role of systematic approaches in enhancing efficiency, ensuring compliance, and driving success in various organizational processes.
Fluix is workflow automation software that gives you all the tools for building efficient workflows: pre-built templates, a drag-and-drop builder, forms library, e-signature automation, conditional logic, integrations with external tools and more.
Its mobile accessibility lets end users fill in data from anywhere, even being in the offline mode. Fluix is specifically designed to have a user-friendly interface that would enable easy adoption and usage by your teams, regardless of their tech skill levels.
And its customizable workflows help you adapt to unique business requirements, remaining both scalable and flexible.
For every new customer, Fluix offers free support with initial settings and a pilot project. Having a dedicated account manager and 24/7 support, you’ll easily build your first workflows fast and start seeing results in the first months of the product usage.
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