5 Steps to More Efficient Workflow Management
Excellent workflow management correlates with the consistency of services and improved workflow efficiency and productivity. With the right workflow management tools, organizational behaviors can be driven in the right direction, improving resource optimization, reducing expenditures, and increasing revenues.
Workflow management is essentially creating standards that lead to consistent work processes that make work safer, of higher quality, and more efficient. Standardization (often done through online forms) offers consistency and simplification, and when you add automation to that, you have the elements of a high-quality, high-efficiency workflow. Here are five steps to better workflow process management and how to create an efficient workflow.
1. Determine the Best Way to Initiate a Workflow
Some workflows are best initiated automatically, perhaps in accordance with a particular weekday or a particular day of the month. These workflows will begin without someone initiating them, but of course, people are required to interact with these workflows at some point.
Other workflows may be initiated only on an as-needed basis. For example, if someone wants to request reimbursement for business travel expenses, he can initiate the workflow designed for that. Knowing what action triggers a workflow is one of your first tasks.
2. Plan for Repeatability
Efficient workflows are repeatable. That means that someone from Finance can use the workflow for requesting IT services and have a similar experience to the person from Graphics who needs IT services. Clearly, not every workflow user wants the same thing.
One person may need a printer repaired, while another may need a new graphics card installed. But it should be clear to every potential workflow user how to initiate a workflow, and how to step through it successfully. Pull-down menus can be tremendously helpful in creating workflows that require customization without creating confusion.
3. Integrate Workflows with Scheduling Tools
Some workflows may need to be initiated by the calendar (such as time card processing done on the same weekday). Other workflows, though initiated on an as-needed basis, can also benefit from scheduling tools.
For example, if someone requests a building keycard for a new hire, an alert may be sent to the person who distributes them as soon as the request is submitted. Then, if no action is taken in, say, 48 hours, another reminder is sent to the person who distributes keycards as a reminder and to keep the workflow on track.
4. Test Before Deployment
Unforeseen consequences aren’t that uncommon when you simplify and automate workflows. You could eliminate a step you thought was superfluous, and then find out it was necessary after all. Plus, you want to make sure that the workflow accomplishes all the actions you need it to.
Therefore, it’s essential that you thoroughly test form workflows before releasing them to users. Have testers try to derail workflows and see if the workflow puts them back on track. Measure whether automatic alerts reach recipients in a timely manner. Test thoroughly before deploying.
5. Monitor After Execution
Once a workflow goes live, the possibility still exists that it will have to be modified at some point. Technology may evolve that would allow for further automation, or steps may need to be added due to new regulations that come into effect. Monitoring workflows and ensuring they remain efficient is important due to the dynamic nature of the business world.
The workflow that was state-of-the-art a year ago may be ready for significant improvement this year. Ideally, you should measure the time a workflow takes before and after you standardize and automate it.
Workflow automation tools are similar to the tools a master carpenter brings to work, in that they allow you to accomplish what must be done with consistent quality and high workflow efficiency.
PerfectForms offers you a comprehensive workflow management software tool that is flexible enough to use across your entire organization, and powerful enough to offer mobile-friendliness, automated alerts, and a drag-and-drop interface that non-technical users find extremely helpful.
PerfectForms can initiate workflows based on date and time, or on an as-needed basis, and their very repeatability helps ensure outstanding consistency. And PerfectForms has built-in reporting tools that allow you to monitor and measure workflows with ease.
Did you know you can try PerfectForms for free? Take PerfectForms for a test drive and see for yourself how much more consistency and efficiency you can build into your workflows.