If you ask two different people on how to create a workflow, you would likely get two different answers. A business owner may draw a straight line outlining key steps like inputs, approvals or revisions. If you ask an IT professional, your workflow process will end up looking like the circuitry for a computer processor.
A Workflow Process Manager requires business process analysis and design skills along with usability and software design knowledge. The process of bringing an organization’s workflow to reality is a daunting task that usually starts with breaking down the business processes into small parts. A Workflow Process Manager must be good at identifying how to break a large problem down into separate processes that can be put together again to create the final solution.
Every business will have a unique workflow process. This workflow process affects everyone on the team. Typically, once the business understands how many people rely on that workflow and how it directly relates to the daily output, the company can begin to consider ways to streamline their business processes to maximize time and cost savings.
Now that the decision has been made to improve workflow, the question quickly becomes “where do I start?” Many organizations have much more than one process and the biggest error a company makes is trying to improve all processes at once. Companies also tend to ‘over-process’ their daily activities with the idea they can trim the excess at a later point. Typically that never works, and leads them right back to the starting point to try again.
Suggestion: After targeting the workflow process to improve, begin by breaking the process down into the steps. Then go a little further and take actual physical steps by following the business process from beginning to end. Spend time with each person involved in the workflow and find out what action items, and possible exceptions occur at each step. The end result will be a clear understanding of the entire workflow process by all team members. This exercise brings up valuable feedback from team members and users tend to adopt new software faster if they’re involved in process of building workflow.
Generally speaking, a Workflow Process Manager can draw a workflow diagram representing how he or she visualizes this. A diagram may look a little like this:
However, there’s a large difference between drawing this diagram and actually putting the workflow into use. In a lot of workplaces, there are typically communication and accountability challenges that arise between employees at opposite ends of the workflow. Furthermore, tracking the progress status of each process becomes a complex task in complicated workflows. As a manager, how would you keep track of multiple teams of employees working at several different stages of a workflow?
A great Workflow Process Management tool will allow you to seamlessly go from a workflow visualization to real-world usage in little to no time at all. An example of a Workflow Process Management tool would be the TACTIC Workflow Editor. It is designed to be simple and flexible, allowing anyone to easily create and modify diagrams like the one shown above. If for example, you leave out a potential action in the process map, it can be easily modified without having to recalibrate the entire diagram. The key benefit is that while you are drawing these diagrams, TACTIC is also piecing together a process tracking system behind the scenes that can be accessed in a different view like the one shown below, effectively solving one of the larger problems workflow managers experience.
If the system you choose provides a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system, and an Asset Library which can manage and track assets processed by each of your user groups, you will also be able to quantify performance of teams or individuals, giving you the ability to adjust workloads and forecast and improve overall performance.
A Workflow Process Manager will utilize a Workflow Process Management tool that allows managers to focus less on problems of accountability and deadlines, and more on problems that occur along the process line.
The goal of a Workflow Process Manager is to streamline your businesses day to day operations. The important part is establishing a plan to work on one workflow at a time, and not get overwhelmed with the idea that you can’t start small. Once this exercise is completed, and you’ve tested it with the designated users, you are now armed with a documented, tested feedback loop. It is easier to then enter into discussions about bigger workflows, and know more on how to approach them.