The first thing that comes to mind when you hear about workflow is most likely order and process. There is validity in that thought. Workflow is intended to deliver efficiency and cost saving by using defined order and automated process.
Defining what the process should be is the tricky but necessary part and it’s the fun part. Yes, fun. When you dig in and people realize how many time wasting tasks can be eliminated, you can feel the joy. So how do you re-connect the dots to create an effective digital workflow and really make work flow? Put on your technology goggles and look at the process.
The first step is to have the people involved in the process document how the process works. This will initially result in a small number of simple steps. The process of writing down those simple steps will produce some ah ha moments and more steps will be added. Then with a business analyst or consultant doing some question and answer sessions, the truth will come out and now the number of steps is doubled or tripled.
The next step involves analyzing the process to understand what the actual goal of the process is and how it impacts the business and possibly other processes. With all of this information gathered, it’s time to engage the software partner or your technology team to match the goals and process with the digital solution. They are the ones best equipped to connect what needs to get done with how technology can get it done.
Technology will allow you to eliminate steps or enhance a process. For instance, you might be able to eliminate a verification step by using technology to do a comparison – ensure the required documents are attached before approval can be given. Let technology automatically create a new workflow based on conditions in another workflow – like when one new capital improvement project results in three new vendors. That’s four workflows.
Workflows can be all data inputs or a package of documents and data. Workflows can be sequential where a process is one step at a time or parallel so you can do multiple steps simultaneously. To make work flow, accurately define the process and have someone look at the process through a technology googles. The end result will be a vastly better process that will have you looking for other areas where you can have some fun.