Why Documenting Processes Is Critical and How Workflows Help
Documenting workflows is not the same as “red tape.” Red tape is time-consuming, onerous, and often unnecessary, whereas documenting workflows is good business.
Automated workflows can do much of the documenting process for you, so there’s no good reason to run a business with undocumented workflows. Documentation can take many different forms, and with automated workflows, it can be as simple as creating a triggering event that sends an automated, time and date-stamped message out to a relevant recipient: “Changes to the workflow titled ‘Employee Handbook’ have been approved.” Here’s how to be smart about documenting workflows so that you collect the data you need without slowing down the pace of business.
Most Common Reasons for Documenting Business Processes
Perhaps the most basic reason businesses document workflows is to show that a task was completed on time. In the old days, a printed copy of a report might be delivered to the boss’ inbox with a dated memo on top indicating that the report was completed on time.
Another common reason business process management often includes documentation steps is for reference in the event of a future audit. BPM Workflow Software license audits, industry organization audits, and audits by governmental agencies depend on steps and processes being documented at key points. It’s oppressively hard to do by hand, and not doing it can open a company up to legal or regulatory scrutiny, which can grind business to a halt.
Risks of Not Documenting Workflows
Suppose someone prints a draft of a report to take to a meeting. Then, while that someone is away, someone else makes changes to the report that results in a different number of endnotes or footnotes. A phone call asking a project team member to locate the document referenced in footnote number 17 can easily result in major confusion if two people are unknowingly working from two different drafts of the same report.
In many industries, the risks of undocumented workflows are greater than having to deal with confusion, however. In the medical, financial, and legal fields, lack of documentation can result in a violation of laws, censure by governing bodies, and even the pursuit of legal action. There is simply too much to lose when a company is lax about documenting business processes.
Benefits of Ensuring All Workflows Are Documented
The main benefit of ensuring that all workflows are documented is that it keeps everyone on the same metaphorical page. If a screen of data looks longer than the same screen did yesterday, you can look at the workflow documentation and see who added the extra data, and when they did it. If departmental level approval is required before a job posting is listed, the person in charge of publishing the job posting can be notified the moment that approval is granted. In short, documentation of workflows, done appropriately, not only makes business progress faster, it makes it more accurate as well.
Automated Workflows Make It Easy
Documenting manual workflows is a hassle, and it’s how so many old-school processes ended up labeled as “red tape” or “excessive bureaucracy.” But automated workflows created with advanced workflow software help you build automatic documentation into the workflow steps exactly where it is needed, so no steps are missed. Moreover, it’s always easy to go back and track the progression of a business process. And when hard copies of approvals or other documentation are required, they can be printed out as-needed rather than someone having to cope with mountains of hand-completed documentation forms.
PerfectForms gives your business mastery over Business Process Automation because it is powerful, thorough, and has a user interface that non-technical users love. You can simply drag and drop form and workflow elements into place, and add documentation steps at critical junctures. If someone modifies the content of a form or report, the date, time, and initiator of the change can be automatically identified. Should an audit arise, gathering necessary documentation can be done quickly, easily, and accurately.
We invite you to look through some of the many PerfectForms case studies. Businesses of all sizes, across all industries, have used PerfectForms to manage processes better through the power of automated workflows. With PerfectForms, you can have the best of all worlds: excellent documentation of processes without the challenges of tracking workflows and documentation manually.