What Is A Workflow And Why Do You Need It?
By Kavita JhaveriJan 30, 2020
A successive series of tasks that is meant to process a set of data is known as a workflow. These are in existence whatever maybe the business and industry. It comes into creation whenever any type of data is sent across individuals and/or systems.
For a project to reach its processed or refined stage from its raw stage, a workflow paves the way. In other words, workflows are merely the roadmaps that enumerate how anything goes from being undone to done. Without a workflow, one can imagine that a project can likely get stuck.
For a workflow to reach its end goal, it needs to follow the broader vision statement. If there are no connecting points to processing data or if the data is stationary, then there is no workflow.
For something to be termed as ‘workflow’ it has to connect the work involved to land into something ultimate or be part of a bigger picture. As an example, when one is running some random errands like transacting at the bank, picking up groceries, send out the laundry etc. these just come under managing tasks.
Do workflows and processes mean the same?
As explained, a series of repeated activities that need to be carried out to accomplish a task is a workflow. Whereas a process is more vast that includes reports, forms, data and updates which are imperative to get a part from start to finish in a structured environment. The latter is directly related to achievement of an organisation goal.
Are workflows and checklists interchangeable terms?
A checklist is prepared to keep a tab on what are the basic requirements to see through the task. It is a primary iteration of a workflow. A checklist often sticks to a particular process or project but are often unable or not meant to be shared across team members.
Now that we’ve set the stage for workflows, here is why these need to be implemented in the working structure of the project:
1. It helps in systemizing work
Many small businesses have a broad vague idea of the output or the deliverable required from an external agency, but when it comes to exact details the project has the propensity to get derailed or get off radar.
With a workflow in place, the scope of work can be generated. In fact, the project design can be setup in its entirety.
With this the external vendor gets a clear depiction of what is expected, what is beyond reach and thus prioritize work accordingly.
2. Processes can be bettered
Work is more streamlined when everyone involved is in synergy and is working together in proper order. Since expectations are laid out explicitly, all are clear of what needs to be done.
The efficiencies achieved as a result can lead to betterment of processes. Thus the work delivery is quicker and more in line with what was set out to be achieved. This pickup in pace shall definitely satisfy the customer provided the quality is not compromised with.
In the long run regardless, business growth is a surety and bottom line increment is also a possibility.
3. Well defined responsibilities
Once the project workflow is set and mutually agreed upon, this makes it easier to assign tasks & duties. Responsibilities are shouldered as per the designation, work priority and expertise. This shall also ensure there is no heartburning.
As everything is laid out on paper for that particular task, this also ignites transparency. All that is required is execution of work step-by-step.
There is more team spirit as the joy of working together unfolds. Team mates may also extend extra help to others & towards the project or take in more work once their allocated responsibilities are dealt with.
4. Better prediction of deadline
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the project members can enable the project manager to better predict the deadline for the allocated task. This shall absolve the teammates of any extra pressure borne to meet such nearing deadlines.
The project manager can then respond with more confidence with regard to the deadlines and undertake every possible measure to ensure the committed deadlines are met with.
A task management software can enable to review the dashboard and see how far the team has come and what needs to get done to get closer faster to the deadline. It can also send out alarms whenever the set pace is not met with.
5. Enhanced visibility for stakeholders
A workflow is nothing but a map that can be or rather should be deciphered by anyone involved with the project. Stakeholders are more interested in returns to the investments.
With a workflow in place, updates can be sent across as more precise and concrete rather than lengthy and incomprehensible. The steps that need to be taken further once shown and then can invite suggestions of how the designed steps can be refined in mutual interest.
6. Risk identification
As the tasks are charted out to the workflow prior, it can end the search or apprehension of where bottlenecks are likely to show up and accordingly work out precautionary measures and be better prepared.
Doubts can be cleared if any as to how, what, where, when and lay the ground for future course of action even before the first task in the series is initiated.
7. Elimination of redundancies
Business processes many times involve pile of unwanted and redundant tasks. Identifying and doing away with these is beneficial and a value add to the company.
Rather than draining time on futile tasks, the worker can focus on that which is more critical and of value to the company and task objective. Weeding out such insignificant tasks, will lead to higher productivity.
8. Accountable Environment and Reduction in Micromanagement
Project Managers who have a micromanaging style create a lot of interference in the team member’s work. Anyone would not be in favour of that. This can lead to attrition hassles as well.
With a workflow in place, the manager can be at ease and be assured that work would go as planned. With accountability in force, each team member will likely put in their 100% so that any applause for their work also comes their way.
This can also likely impact job satisfaction levels and can also strengthen the work relationship between employees and management.
9. Improved communication
Poor channels of communication often result in poor business results. This common workplace problem if not dealt with effectively can eat into the organisation culture.
Miscommunication can cause conflicts, misunderstandings, co-ordination issues. Transparency of processes and accountability can have a dramatic positive impact on workplace communication.
With project management software, communication is made explicit and channelized in the appropriate manner. So also with workflow, communication is more streamlined.
10. Customer service quality improves
Customer is not called ‘king’ for namesake in the industry. Without customers, business has no meaning.
The more the customers are kept in the delight zone, the more the prosperity for the business.
So keep finding ways to spike customer delight and retain them for as long as possible.
With workflow in place, as trivial internal tasks are supposedly well-managed, customers can be better attended to & any customer complaints can be addressed at a more rapid pace.
11. Improvement in the quality of products or services
When a workflow is prepared it allows to choose individuals who are best equipped & skilled to execute the tasks at hand which otherwise may not be possible. As usually work is delegated to those are in access at that time.
With automation of workflows and processes, the likelihood of human error can be reduced. Just as with project management software, workflows will also likely improve product & service quality over a period of time.
Workflows leave nothing to chance
Workflows define every aspect of your work. Thus these form an integral part of executing any task. The amalgamation of these workflows which have been followed by people in the past form the project management strategies and methodologies. These ofcourse are suggested and pursued on a day-to-day basis.
So with systemization of work, enabling better decisions, finding the path to customer attraction & sustenance, workflows surely should fit into the planning aspect of any business. Who knows with time, optimization of workflows could just be the differentiating factor or what makes you stand out from competition.
Give it a try, after all there are no side effects!
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