Maybe you’ve considered automating workflows, but you’re not sure where to begin. How do you automate workflows?
Each workflow will be automated in its own way, but there is a basic template of steps you can apply to most workflows. With the right workflow designer software, you can automate workflows from just about any department. Here are 7 steps to follow when you want to automate workflows:
1. Evaluate Existing Workflows
The first step is to recognize workflows you already have. These processes may or may not be recorded, and they may or may not be bound by rules. Sometimes workflows develop on their own from “what you have to do” to get things done. They’re still workflows, however. Try to recognize as many of these processes as you can. If you think identifying workflows across your organization would be overwhelming, start with one department’s workflows.
2. Prioritize Workflows for Automation
Suppose you identify four or five workflows that are regularly used in your organization. Which one is the most critical to fulfilling your business goals? If, say, you run a tech company, then perhaps IT service desk workflows are the most vital for your company’s success. Take that handful of important workflows and prioritize them in order of importance to your mission. As an alternative, you could identify the simplest workflow to automate, so you can learn about automation on a simpler level before tackling harder workflows.
3. Break Workflows Down Into Discrete Steps
Each workflow should be broken down into discrete steps, including manual steps (“Hand request form to Joan.”) and notification steps (“Tell Larry his signature is needed.”). With every part of a workflow assigned its own unique step, look for obvious places to automate. Replacing paper forms with electronic forms and submitting them electronically is an automation step that can make a tremendous difference. Notifications, too, can be automated, with people whose action is required being notified via email automatically.
4. Collect User Feedback
The people who use the workflows should provide their feedback on how the workflows are broken into steps and which steps are the most obvious candidates for automation. If you automate a workflow, yet it takes just as long or is just as prone to mistakes, there’s little point. Ultimately, it is the people who use workflows every day who should point out problems with steps and indicate what parts of a workflow are in most dire need of improvement. Workflow automation software should benefit everyone involved in the process.
5. Automate Using Workflow Automation Software
The right workflow designer software will be flexible and powerful enough to automate forms and workflows whether they pertain to HR, IT, building maintenance, customer service, or some other department. One of the most important steps to automation is the development of electronic counterparts to paper forms, and automatic electronic routing of those forms once they are completed. The electronic forms themselves may look and feel exactly like their paper counterparts, but they’ll still be more accurate, faster, and won’t be lost or damaged.
6. Test, Evaluate, and Fine-Tune Workflows
Unforeseen issues are to be expected. You don’t always recognize a bottleneck or a problem with an automated workflow until you try it out. Test an automated workflow under its full range of operating conditions. Can the people in Graphics use the process as well as the people in Payroll can? Are there people along the way who require notification but are missing out? The only way to identify and correct issues with automated workflows is to test them with a range of users, under a range of different circumstances.
7. Record Lessons Learned
Congratulations: you have automated a workflow, making it faster, more accurate, and less paper-intensive. But you probably didn’t arrive at your successful endpoint without some problems along the way. Now is the best time to record the lessons learned in the automation process. Maybe a form didn’t look right on a mobile device, or perhaps it required too much manual input from mobile users who don’t have the convenience of a full-sized keyboard. By writing down the lessons learned, you help out future workflow automation efforts.
PerfectForms is the workflow designer that allows non-programmers to create beautiful, efficient forms and workflows through an intuitive interface. Applicable to workflows in every department, PerfectForms has guided businesses, government agencies, and other organizations through the automation process and saved them millions of dollars. Read through some of our case studies and see for yourself how PerfectForms is the workflow designer that answers all your needs.
The tantalizing idea of an office without paper was first dangled in front of the business world more than 30 years ago, with the personal computer revolution. But what futurists failed to realize was just how entrenched paper usage was, and the fact that a computer connected to a printer offered the perfect temptation to print more rather than less.
The paperless office in no way materialized with the first wave of personal computers, and it didn’t happen when everyone got internet connections either. Now you could print out emails and downloaded articles in addition to all the other stuff offices routinely printed out! The situation has improved to some extent, with even the most senior employees realizing that consuming content from a screen works just as well in most cases.
With mobility, the truly paperless office is starting to be a real possibility. Trust in electronic documents has grown, and many more people and organizations are serious about reducing their environmental footprint. Here’s one way to make the paperless (or nearly paperless) office come about.
It’s Easier if You’re Just Starting Out Your Business
If you’re in the process of starting a business from scratch, you can make it as paperless as possible by choosing paperless software and developing paperless processes from the beginning. The business trio of the laptop, the smartphone, and the tablet together make up an office that goes everywhere, so even if you do invest in physical desks, they might not get much use. With cloud-powered applications available for just about everything, the need for on-site IT hardware has diminished greatly too. There’s never been a better time to start up a paperless business.
Existing Businesses Can Dramatically Cut Paper Usage Too
Making paper-based processes paperless may cause some disruption. People like doing things the way they’re used to doing them, after all. But judiciously selecting processes to remove from the paper-based world and run electronically can get more people on board so that future moves away from paper are easier for people to accept. Setting up a simple document signing app or making a commonly used paper form into an electronic one can help your business take a big step toward the paperless ideal.
Online Forms Are a Great First Step
Few people like paper-based forms. They’re tedious, sometimes hard to read, and they can be lost, damaged, stolen, or otherwise mishandled. Electronic online forms, on the other hand, present no worries about penmanship, can be submitted electronically to avoid being lost or damaged, and can allow entry of data one time to populate multiple forms or multiple fields in a single form. Form software that lets you duplicate the look and feel of your paper forms, right down to font and color choices, helps the reticent get over their fear of change.
Mobility Takes the Paperless Office to the Next Level
Online forms that are mobile-friendly take your paper-free ambitions to the next level. Why not make it easy for traveling employees to submit expense reports from the road? Let your field technicians document services right from their tablet, and records are more up-to-date and accurate while saving everyone precious time. The editor who can finish editing reports from her laptop can be productive both in the office or working from home when her child is sick. Electronic forms raise all sorts of great possibilities, and mobile-friendly forms fulfill many of them.
PerfectForms is mobile-friendly form software that doesn’t require programming skills to use. Non-technical users can create pixel-perfect forms that users can submit electronically, accelerating workflows appreciably. You can even include automatic notifications in your electronic workflows, so when someone needs to review a completed form, they’re notified by email right away. Are you interested in the paperless (or “as paperless as possible”) office? You can try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. Experience for yourself the possibilities the electronic, paper-free office has long promised.
Business process management (BPM) traces its heritage to tools and enablers that powered the industrial age through the 1960s and the first and second waves of the information age from the 1970s through the early 2000s. BPM is a cross-industry and cross-departmental discipline that involves analyzing business processes, identifying and implementing ways to improve or optimize them, and measuring the effect of improvements in productivity, revenues, and other measures.
One way companies have always facilitated differentiation from the competition is by developing business processes that are smarter, sleeker, and less wasteful. The theory is that when the team isn’t wasting time on outdated or needlessly cumbersome procedures, they can focus on core business processes and keeping their customers happy.
Improved processes also generate value for employees, management, and company investors. The company that is able to understand, measure, and build upon solid business processes, making them better with each iteration, is one that is on the path to long-term success and continuous improvement in business value. BPM tools can ultimately confer higher productivity, better quality, improved compliance, and a better ability to respond to changes in the market.
Physical Assets Are Now Data-Centered Assets
Just over a decade ago, the world’s most valuable public company was in the oil and energy sector. Only one of the top five most valuable companies was a tech company (Microsoft). Today, the four biggest publicly traded companies are all tech companies, with the biggest being Apple.
In other words, some of the world’s biggest business assets are no longer things, like oil rigs and manufacturing equipment, but information, data, and intellectual property. That doesn’t make BPM tools obsolete. It simply means that they must adapt to a new reality in the world of business.
“BPM 2.0” a Part of the Digital Age
Is the fact that “BPM 2.0” must adapt to emerging requirements and changing business assets a crisis, or a tremendous opportunity? Most people consider it a great opportunity. Businesses still have processes – many of them quite complex. Those processes still need to be managed skillfully and improved upon where possible to help companies preserve or increase their competitive advantage. BPM software definitely has a place in today’s information-centric business, perhaps even more than it did when it was focused on things like optimizing command and control of an assembly line.
Worries About Speed and Expense Being Put to Rest
One complaint you’ll see about BPM software is that it’s too slow and expensive. There are certainly instances where this is the case, and they typically involve legacy systems that are being subject to workarounds and other clumsy “improvements” in an attempt to get the longest life out of aging IT hardware.
The BPM tools of today, however, don’t suffer from these problems. Perhaps the main reason is that much of today’s BPM software is cloud-hosted. Businesses no longer need to worry about having the servers and other “iron” on their premises to run their BPM software. All they need is sufficient internet bandwidth, and enough subscriptions to cloud BPM services to ensure key personnel have access to them.
Does Your BPM Solution Evolve with Your Business?
Maybe your company uses a BPM tool that was designed for the age of mainframes and pre-internet communication. If so, it would be no surprise if it was no longer able to earn its keep. Today’s BPM software simply has to evolve with your business, and with technology and the marketplace as well.
PerfectForms is the BPM tool that answers the needs of today’s business, school, government entity, or nonprofit organization because it has the power and flexibility to go to work managing any type of business process you can break down into steps. Whether you want to manage HR processes, ensure shipments go out complete and on time, or provide your IT team with an exceptional tool for managing IT help requests, PerfectForms is ready.
PerfectForms is available in the cloud, or it can be installed on the premises. With its intuitive drag-and-drop interface, it allows process users to design and automate processes that are sleek and efficient, eliminating in many cases the use of paper and manual paper-shuffling. Watch our demo video and see how PerfectForms is ideally suited to the business needs of today’s tech- and information-intensive business environment.
Business process management (BPM) makes sense for companies of any size, in any industry, as long as everyone is committed to continual improvement and is willing to benchmark and measure success. But it isn’t the kind of thing you can just jump right into without preparation. Doing so would be like buying a car without making sure its internal parts work properly and it has the safety equipment necessary to protect occupants.
Choosing the right software is a major milestone prior to the implementation of BPM. But before you make that investment, it’s important to make sure your organization is ready for BPM and that the elements are in place to make it successful. Taking the time to assess BPM readiness and make further preparations if necessary can save you considerable time down the road because you’re far less likely to have to backtrack and redo parts of your BPM implementation. Here’s how to conduct your BPM readiness review.
Review Your Organizational Goals and Strategies
Reviewing the purpose of your organization is a good starting place. It can be as simple as, “We provide affordable athletic uniforms to schools,” or “We make gluten-free baked goods.” With your organization’s purpose in mind, you can then elucidate your goals, with the help of a handful of trusted employees. You want answers to questions like,
- What do we seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time doing?
- What tasks give us the most satisfaction?
- If we could wave a magic wand and “fix” one aspect of business, what would it be?
- How do we currently ensure consistency and quality?
- Are we ready to scale up operations if we needed to in order to meet demand?
Have Conversations with Process Users and Owners
At some point, you need to sit down and talk with the people who carry out segments of business processes, or who are considered “owners” of processes. Talk to the person responsible for delivering the annual report on time, but also talk to the people who write and submit the various sections, the person responsible for layout and graphics, and the person tasked with creating the final PDF that goes to printing. Only by having a complete view of a process from all the angles can you ready yourself to use BPM software to manage the process better.
Determine How You Will Benchmark Processes
Willingness to benchmark processes before and after using BPM software is a huge component of BPM readiness. It’s not always easy to face up to those initial benchmark figures, but you have to have something against which to measure improvement. Furthermore, you have to be willing to gather honest metrics after implementation of your BPM tool, and if they don’t live up to expectations, you will need to figure out why.
It’s like starting a weight loss program. Knowing your starting weight and measurements isn’t necessarily information that’s enjoyable to learn, but it’s how you’ll be able to see later how far you have come and to evaluate what has made the most difference. Maybe one dietary change has resulted in the loss of so many pounds, but the implementation of an exercise regimen has helped you lose inches and fit into clothes better. Learning cause and effect is powerful.
Taking BPM from Concept to Reality
The BPM tool you choose to make your organization run more efficiently and effectively should be powerful, flexible, and user-friendly enough that you don’t have to spend massive amounts of time learning how to use it. Ideally, it shouldn’t require programming skills, so process owners and users can be the ones to design business processes that work better.
Once you are confident that your organization is ready for BPM software, you can look forward to happier employees and happier customers, assuming you choose your BPM software carefully. PerfectForms is BPM software that gives you the power, flexibility, and intuitive interface you need to create and manage business processes without having to know how to program. You can start with a single, simple business process as a test case, and once you see what a measurable difference it makes, you can expand to countless other business processes.
To find out for yourself what we mean, we invite you to try PerfectForms by signing up for a free trial. Learn what a BPM tool can accomplish when it’s designed for process owners and users, and designed to get measurable results and a fast return on investment.
There’s no question that significant time, money, and hard work are required to run a successful dental practice. Not only must you maintain a suite of expensive equipment, you have recordkeeping requirements that can be substantial as well. Efficiency is an absolute necessity if you are to make your dental practice profitable for the long term.
Online forms have helped dentists improve the efficiency of their practices because of the time and resources they save. In fact, you can use form software to provide a number of online forms to your patients, making their experience more convenient and allowing your staff to focus more fully on the provision of dental services rather than administrative tasks.
Forms to Complete Online or Bring In
Dentists, particularly those with older patients who may not be comfortable with completing and submitting forms online, can still offer online forms that can be printed out and completed by hand at a patient’s convenience. That way, a patient can still complete forms at home and not have to worry about doing so in the office.
Most people today, however, are comfortable submitting online forms as long as they know they are handled with utmost attention to online security. That’s why it’s important for your website to make its security credentials clear and to work with your web designer to ensure that all correspondence through your site is secure.
New Patient Registration
Filling out new patient registration forms in the office isn’t an appealing prospect. It’s not easy to fill out forms on a clipboard on your lap, particularly if you’re a parent trying to mind a young child at the same time. When you use your online form software to create your new patient registration forms and allow new patients to complete them online, the experience will be better for everyone. Your staff will have the information in their IT systems in advance, there are no worries about ambiguous handwriting, and patients can take the time they need to get the information right.
Dental Health History
It’s not easy to remember your entire dental health history and record it on a form in the office, particularly if you have some degree of dental anxiety. Online forms for dental health history can help because patients can take their time completing them, so they’re less likely to forget important procedures they’ve had or medical conditions that may affect their dental care choices.
Online form software that automatically takes the information submitted on electronic forms and enters it into the appropriate recordkeeping or database software can save your staff a tremendous amount of time and effort.
Complying with the HIPAA privacy rules generally requires that patients complete a handful of critical forms. They’ll need to attest that they have seen and read the Notice of Privacy Practices, and complete an Authorization Form if their private health information may be released for reasons other than routine disclosure (such as those related to treatment or payment).
If situations arise in your practice that may require special authorization to share private health information, you’ll need to offer patients an authorization form to read and sign. While a Patient Consent Form isn’t necessarily required by HIPAA, many practices have them anyway for protection should a privacy rights complaint arise. Electronic signature of HIPAA forms is acceptable as long as security and other requirements are met.
Customized, Secure, Efficient
Online forms can offer your dental practice tremendous efficiency gains over the use of traditional paper forms. Not only can data entry requirements be cut significantly, accuracy will improve, and patients will avoid having to fill out forms in the waiting room. The right online form software will allow you to make customized, aesthetically pleasing, secure forms that are easy to access and submit right over your practice website.
PerfectForms is a form creation software designed so that non-programmers can create fully customized online forms without having to know how to program. It’s easy to create forms with the right colors, fonts, logos, and other brand identifiers you use for your practice and, if you want, you can create electronic forms that look exactly like the paper forms your patients are used to. PerfectForms automatically integrates with web forms, so collecting information from them is seamless and exact. We encourage you to watch the PerfectForms demo video to see for yourself how online forms can transform the way you do business, improving it in every way.
Organizations, governmental or nonprofit, that provide community services may accomplish a broad range of actions, but almost all of them have one thing in common: limited time and money. It takes excellent organization and good money management to provide senior citizen services, big brother-big sister programs, or other community-beneficial activities and events.
Workflow automation software may not be a priority for organizations that provide such services, but perhaps it should be. Small-budget operations can benefit disproportionately from having workflow tools that streamline processes and ensure all details are seen to every time. With workflow software, the people who provide services to the vulnerable can work more efficiently, spend less time on administrative chores, and more time serving people. Here are some examples of how.
Tracking In-Home Visits
Agencies and service providers that perform in-home visits have to keep up not only with packed schedules, but also with documentation of visits, client status, and things like vehicle mileage. This can be done on paper forms, but when it is done with workflow automation software that can be accessed on a mobile phone or tablet, there’s no paper to lose, no hurried handwriting to decipher, and completed forms are automatically routed to the correct recipient upon completion. Less administrative work must be redone, and finding records from the past is infinitely simpler.
Making Expense Reimbursement Easier
If volunteers or staff members are reimbursed for things like small purchases for clients, or mileage on their car, the reimbursement process can be streamlined significantly with the right workflow tools. The steps of recording expenses or other information on paper and manually submitting it can be replaced with online and mobile forms that are fast, accurate, and routed correctly every time. You can even set up email alerts so that when an approving authority receives a completed form, they are notified and can deal with it expediently.
Plan and Document Recreational Outings Efficiently
When a community organization plans a recreational outing, it’s more complicated than when the typical family goes out to the movies or a skating rink. Accepting sign-ups, planning transportation, creating a travel manifest, and documenting safe return can all be done using workflow automation software that creates online forms customized to the situation.
Allowing online sign-up and registration through mobile-friendly forms lets more people skip inefficient paper forms and speed up planning. Likewise, reporting and staff requests for reimbursement can be made quickly and processed promptly.
When Time and Money are in Short Supply
When both time and money are tight commodities, organization is more important than ever. Errors are expensive in terms of time and money, and when manual processes can be replaced with automated workflows, error rates go down while efficiency goes up. Organizations that provide services to communities and their most vulnerable people can’t afford clunky, manual processes, or the time it takes to track down and correct errors within manual workflows. Therefore, it makes sense that these organizations consider workflow automation software as an investment that can pay off both short term and long term.
PerfectForms is workflow automation software that is flexible enough to have been used by large enterprises, small start-ups, government entities, and nonprofit organizations of all sizes. It allows workflow users to design and implement online workflows without having to know how to write programming code.
Forms and workflows can be developed and customized from the included templates or made from scratch. Either way, users can create custom, pixel-perfect, mobile friendly electronic forms and workflows, so nothing slips through the cracks, and no resources are wasted. We encourage you to read over some of our case studies to see how PerfectForms empowers organizations of all kinds to maximize productivity and efficiency while holding down costs and reducing error rates drastically.
At the end of the day, business process management (BPM) should make things simpler, not more complicated. Yet with BPM software, there can be an unspoken temptation to use every last feature, whether it’s necessary or not. Like with most things, when using BPM tools, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
BPM should be a process of strategic automation. The sum total of that automation should be integrated processes that are more efficient, more cost effective, easier for customer service reps, or some combination of those elements. Here’s how to prevent “feature creep” from making BPM unnecessarily complicated.
Elegant Design Leads to Elegant Processes
If you choose BPM software with a friendly user interface, you may be tempted to sit down and start building a process off the top of your head. This could be a useful thing to do to learn the ins and outs of the software itself, but for the processes you want to manage, you really need to start at the “drawing board” phase.
Identify the essence of the process, and break it down into discrete steps. Are all the steps necessary? You may be able to streamline your current process if, for example, new technology handles something you used to have to do by hand, or if an old regulation you used to have to follow no longer applies.
Does This Step Create Added Value for Our Customers?
With every step of your process, it’s important to ask if the step leads to added value for customers. Maybe it doesn’t do so directly, but indirectly, by feeding another important part of the process, or by working with input from other steps and simplifying it. Keep in mind that “adding value for customers” may happen by cutting your costs and allowing you to price products competitively. This can happen when processes contain automation and allow you to produce a product or service faster than you would otherwise.
Does This Step or Subtask Improve Efficiency Further?
There’s nothing wrong with adding subtasks or steps and, in fact, you can count on it happening as you fine-tune your processes. But you shouldn’t add them unless they do something to improve business process efficiency further. Each and every step and subtask should serve a purpose and should serve the purpose with maximum speed and accuracy that’s reasonable to expect.
Does This Step Steer Clear of Bottlenecks and Stagnation?
It’s possible to add steps or subtasks that inadvertently cause unforeseen bottlenecks, and the only way to find these steps is to test out the automated process and see what happens. Don’t be afraid to prune back or modify processes that lead to slow-downs, or that fail to make the process better in some way. Bear in mind that not every step will check off all three of these boxes. But it should check off two of them, and should result in a process that either adds value for customers, improves efficiency, and doesn’t cause new bottlenecks.
Can the Cloud Help?
Many businesses – especially small businesses – benefit from BPM software that runs in the cloud. And an increasing number of larger enterprises are seeing the value in cloud-hosted software, particularly as legacy IT hardware wears out and has to be replaced. If you’re considering investing in BPM software, learn about your legacy vs. cloud options. Unless you already have IT infrastructure in place, you will most likely find that turning to the cloud makes more sense in the context of the overall simplification you want to achieve with BPM.
PerfectForms is BPM software designed for non-programmers. It allows users to build online forms and processes with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, and modify them with ease. That way you can commit to continual improvement knowing your BPM tools are ready whenever you are. PerfectForms offers the choice of cloud hosting on on-site hosting, so whatever your infrastructure situation or security needs, you’re covered. We invite you to read through some of our case studies and see the many use cases to which PerfectForms can be put. With PerfectForms, exceptional business process management and all the benefits that go with it, are in your hands.
Many veterinary clinics offer additional services like boarding, grooming, and “spa” services for people’s beloved companion animals. People consider their furry, feathered, or scaled friends to be members of the family rather than “just pets,” and this means they require regular veterinary medical services along with occasional other services provided by vet clinics.
Filling out forms in the waiting room of a veterinary clinic can be a challenge, particularly for people trying to comfort or wrangle an animal who is in distress or ill. Vet clinics that offer a range of online forms that clients can complete and submit in advance benefits not only clients but their entire staff as well. Here are some common online forms your clinic can use to streamline your provision of services.
New Client Forms
Veterinarians, groomers, and kennel personnel need to know about the animals they will be interacting with, and providing new client forms online makes it easier for these animals’ humans to provide all relevant information. In addition to typical contact information, they can enter information about their pet’s name, age, species, breed, and color. If a pet has a microchip, they can enter that number as well. Online forms can offer space for new clients to give details about special needs or medical conditions their pets have. You can even make these forms mobile friendly with drop-down menus for many of the information blanks, to minimize typing.
Surgery Release Forms
When a pet has surgery, owners tend to be anxious, which makes it more difficult to take in the information on surgery release forms when dropping their pet off for the procedure. But when you create online forms for surgical authorization, clients have all the time they need to read and understand the information you need them to have and state their preferences about additional tests and optional medications recommended by the vet. If an animal takes medications on a regular basis, these can be listed, along with dosages and timing information. You can set up your online forms to accept online signatures from clients and then be submitted securely.
Grooming Release Forms
Many veterinary clinics now offer grooming services in addition to medical services. Services may include bathing, trimming, and nail care and clients need to provide proper release forms before these services take place. These forms can also spell out and tabulate costs for services, and authorize the clinic to provide medical services if an emergency should arise during grooming. Some clinics may include pictures showing options clients can choose from, such as popular grooming styles for certain breeds. It saves time for everyone and prevents misunderstandings.
Boarding Reservation Forms
Boarding reservation forms must be absolutely accurate to ensure there are no mix-ups with regards to date, size, or type of animal. When you create online forms for boarding reservations, they’re less likely to contain mistakes, and you can even authorize secure online deposits to hold a pet’s place in your boarding facility. Forms can allow clients to indicate special services or products they want their animals to have during boarding, like exercise time, teeth brushing, or special foods and snacks. These forms can include client authorization for veterinary treatment if their pet should become ill or be injured while being boarded.
Making Potentially Stressful Situations Better
The stress of having a sick or injured companion animal can be major, yet it’s important for veterinary providers to have accurate, current information in order to provide the best possible treatment or services. Online forms for your veterinary, grooming, or boarding facility are more convenient for clients, allow your staff to more easily import and route critical information, and make the actual visit to the facility far less stressful for everyone involved.
PerfectForms allows you to create online forms for your animal services facility without having to know how to write programming code. You can make fully customized online forms for both customer-facing and internal processes. PerfectForms integrates with web forms, so the acquisition of data is straightforward and instantaneous. Make your online forms reflect your brand and your caring attitude with ease. In fact, you can try out PerfectForms for free by signing up for a free trial and see for yourself how easy it is to make pixel-perfect online forms for your veterinary facility.
Project management and workflow management sound similar, and they are. But they’re not interchangeable terms. Project management is the application of skills, tools, techniques, and institutional knowledge to meet the requirements of a project. Workflow management applies to the series of steps that you take that allows you to meet all those milestones.
Say you were asked to make a multi-tier wedding cake. Project management is all about gathering the ingredients and the helpers you need and making sure it’s delivered to the reception hall complete and on time. Workflow management is the recipe and the steps for assembling, frosting, and transporting it. Excellent project management and workflow management are necessary for the best possible project results.
Project Management: Big-Picture Oriented
Project management is more big-picture oriented than workflow management. It’s about planning your project, tracking projects, and marking off milestones. Project management usually involves things like timelines, baselines, and Gantt charts.
Good project management allows you to successfully balance time and cost requirements, putting together a project team, and tracking progress against the plan you make. It also makes it possible to recover quickly from problems and correct course when necessary. Project plans tend to evolve, so they may have to be updated, even after the project manager has worked hard to think the plan through thoroughly, and set goals and deadlines.
Workflow Management: Predictability, Consistency, Measurability
Workflow management is about managing the specific series of interdependent steps to reach project goals. The right workflow tools help companies do this in a methodical, systematic manner. Workflows tend to be defined and applied repeatedly over the course of a project. Maybe people on multiple shifts will be working on the project, and workflow management helps personnel pass the proverbial relay baton to the right person on the next shift, and have them know exactly what steps to take.
Workflow automation software is a powerful addition to project management, helping the steps that make up the project proceed with greater predictability and consistency than would be possible without it.
Project Management and Workflow Management Are Symbiotic
Good project management and good workflow management form a mutually beneficial relationship. Workflows won’t run optimally under haphazard or incompetent project management, and projects won’t successfully meet goals with ill-defined or poorly-designed workflows.
Workflow tools that are applied in a planned manner by people who understand the processes intimately make the project manager’s job significantly easier. Likewise, someone managing a workflow with workflow automation software can do a much better job under the guidance of competent and invested project management.
Workflow Automation Software to Support Project Management
You may wonder why you need workflow automation software if you have a good project management suite. The truth is, workflow automation software makes everyone on the project team look good, because it makes for better consistency, better understanding among project team members, and defined processes that help ensure that no steps are missed along the way. Project management software isn’t designed to do this. The right workflow tools are also flexible enough to be used well beyond the scope of a single project, or even a single department.
Workflow consistency is important for HR, IT, and every department in between. Workflow automation software allows every department to standardize processes to a high level of excellence, helping ensure that everyone operates at a level of professionalism that might not be possible otherwise.
PerfectForms is workflow automation software that requires no programming, so workflow managers and users can create workflows that are perfectly designed for their needs. An IT project, a PR campaign, or the publication of annual reports are just a few examples of the types of projects for which PerfectForms can be used to create custom workflows. And with these powerful workflow tools, you can be confident of consistent quality of work, and less worried about steps being neglected. We encourage you to read some of our case studies and see for yourself how having the right workflow tools helps businesses, nonprofits, and public sector organizations save time, save money, and make the best possible impression on their clients and customers.
Social media has become such a big part of brand building that it’s no longer unusual for companies to have at least one social media manager.
The responsibilities of social media management include:
- Content management
- Brand evangelism
- Updating social networks
- Research and planning
- Content curation
- Social listening and engaging with audiences
What started out as a side task often assigned to interns has become a fully-fledged profession. Though day-to-day tasks vary, social media managers frequently browse social media for news and trending topics and post to selected social media sites on a regular basis. Interaction with social media users who have responded to earlier posts is also an important task. Blogging is part of some social media managers’ workload, and some create and manage subreddits as well.
Consistency Essential, and Processes Help Ensure Consistency
Consistency is an essential characteristic of a strong social media management strategy, and it’s not easy due to the varied nature of a social media manager’s tasks. Establishing processes for ensuring everything gets done improves consistency and helps ensure that important steps aren’t missed, like responding to customer questions. BPM tools can be terrific for helping establish and practice consistency in social media management. The right BPM software allows the creation of custom business processes, along with checks and balances to ensure completion and constancy.
BPM Software Assists with the Following Tasks
With BPM software, you should be able to manage the following social media management tasks more effectively:
- Research and planning, including sourcing content that matches organizational social media goals and creating an editorial calendar
- Content creation that includes blog posts, articles, infographics, white papers, and posts specifically for social media
- Curation of content that is meaningful and inspiring to share on social media by means of RSS feeds, competitor blog subscriptions, and following industry thought leaders
- Scheduling and sharing content to the most appropriate social media network(s)
- Engaging with the audience by listening, conversing, and general online community building
Key Elements of Social Media Processes
Though each organization’s social media management process will be unique, a general workflow could be envisioned as follows:
- Initiation of social media management campaign
- Choosing of the most appropriate social media platforms
- Creating outstanding social media content
- Developing hashtags for the social media campaign
- Planning the social media posting schedule
- Reviewing posts for opportunities to interact with customers
Managing Social Media Management
Defining the processes themselves is one thing, but managing them consistently is another indispensable aspect of social media management. Buy-in to your social media strategy from management is essential to having the resources and support necessary to carry out a social media campaign. Another key task is to determine who, specifically, is responsible for each task and making sure they understand their responsibilities. Finally, the person in charge of social media management must be able to monitor processes to ensure they are being carried out on time and to completion.
The right BPM tool for social media management must be flexible, powerful, and scalable as social media campaigns gear up and wind down. The people responsible for carrying out the processes associated with social media management should have input into the design of workflows, and with the right BPM software, they can even design workflows themselves.
PerfectForms is BPM software that allows non-programmers to create custom online business processes and the forms associated with them, without having to write program code. Process owners can create their own processes or have significant input into their creation so that processes make sense and minimize duplication of effort and wasted time. Since it’s offered as a cloud-hosted software option, PerfectForms scales up easily and seamlessly and doesn’t require a big up-front investment in IT infrastructure.
In short, PerfectForms is the perfect BPM tool for the company committed to social media management. We invite you to watch the PerfectForms demo video and see how much power and flexibility you can put into your own hands, whether you’re managing social media or any number of other critical business processes.