Workflows are a part of human nature, we all create workflows in every part of our daily lives; from getting up in the morning and making a cup of tea, to cleaning our teeth before going to bed. They are used in our working lives too, so…
What is Workflow?
Put simply, workflow is the series of activities that are necessary to complete a task. A workflow may involve several steps and include multiple participants. In its most comprehensive form, workflow includes the people, procedures and tools involved in each step of a business process.
A workflow can be either sequential, with each step dependent on completion of the previous one, or parallel with several steps occurring simultaneously. In theory, whenever you run the same workflow, you get the same result.
Once implemented, workflows can be analysed to study process efficiency and determine if improvements can and should be made. Remember, these improvements may not always mean reducing the time a workflow takes! Improvements may also relate to quality of the intermediary steps and/or the final outcome.
Benefits of using workflows
- Work Operations Become Streamlined and Repeatable
A workflow will clearly define ownership, task responsibility and procedures to be followed together with timescales. Workflows help enable the attainment of repeatable operational processes and measure the anticipated overall effectiveness of the process.
Where structured workflows are used, employees are provided with a clear understanding of what the stages are and how they fit in the overall process. They offer flexibility to project managers and supervisory staff, who can allocate these clearly defined steps to alternative personnel with ease as needed.
Workflows provide evidence of issues that can affect productivity, product quality and service levels. Each step of a workflow should be clearly defined and the duties and ownerships assigned. And so long as these steps are measured and recorded, the identification of any stresses or flaws in the process will be easy to review.
- Improves Project Timeline Estimates and Deliveries
A business process should run like clockwork. The repeatability of a clearly defined workflow allows managers to provide reliable delivery and cost estimates to colleagues and customers.