Workflows are sets of fixed tasks that process data sets based on predefined rules. You create workflow anytime there is data transfer between humans and systems. Workflows describe how something comes to a done state or how something gets processed from raw data. We can consider three types of workflows:
- Process Workflow – It happens when there is a set of predictable and repetitive tasks. You know the exact path an item has to take in this case.
- Case Workflow – This one does not imply the path required to complete an item in advance. Instead, it reveals the path with more data being gathered (e.g., insurance claims).
- Project Workflow – It has a structured path to completion, similar to process workflow, but there is more flexibility along the way. One limitation, in this case, is that it is only valid for one item, which means that no two items can follow the same path to completion.
Human-centric workflows rely on humans to process the data. In contrast, system-centric workflows rely on a machine to process an item, with little to no human interaction. For example, a financial report is auto-generated each month simultaneously. Remember that if data isn't flowing, it's not a workflow. The tasks must be linked to drawing a larger picture to be considered a workflow.
How to get started with workflows? There are many things to consider when creating a workflow: some are more technical, and some are more organizational things. Check out the following steps that can help you create and use workflows.
When Is a Workflow Needed?
Workflows can help team clarity and hit team goals faster when you have or manage a team or department. For example, marketing campaigns, new employee onboarding processes, etc., can all benefit from workflows. Simply put, these kinds of “repetitive” tasks all ask for a workflow that will automate the process in a way.
Is It Worth Your Time?
When considering the most efficient way to complete a task, you may consider the specific tasks to be completed, who is responsible for what, and how much time each task takes.
Answering these questions will help you structure a process to create a workflow. And if you conclude from these questions and answers that you will save time or be more efficient with given tasks, you will get the answer to the question if it is worth your time.
Research Formal Steps for Creating a Workflow
Workflows should be created in a shared tool so that all members can access and track information in real-time. When creating a workflow, the steps listed below are considered essential:
- Identify resources; they include paper forms, operating procedures, people involved, etc.
- List the tasks to be accomplished, sequence of parallel tasks, conditional tasks, etc.
- Define accountable members for each step, note all stakeholders, their responsibilities, and the information required for performing tasks.
- Create a workflow diagram to visualize the process, then sketch out the gathered information using the diagram to create a visual representation of the workflow.
- Test the workflow; it is crucial to test the flow before going further. A workflow has to be tested in-depth to find any potential flaws.
- Train the team on the workflow; training is required for the workflow to be as efficient as possible; this is the best confidence booster.
- Deploy the workflow after the training and testing are successful.
Workflows are a great way to automate repeatable tasks, minimize errors during work, and maximize efficiency. By implementing them, you will grow and improve your business as a whole. The management can make smarter decisions, and employees are motivated to collaborate more. Even though it is a critical step, it is frequently overshadowed by more pressing tasks in a business, and many people believe the business is fine without a workflow setup. Setting up workflows for your business is unquestionably a good idea.