How to Ensure Success with Your Workflow Software
Perhaps you wonder why you should bother with workflow software. After all, you have a productive team, and everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. But what workflow software offers is a way to help everyone perform their roles and responsibilities more efficiently and with fewer errors.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that workflow software is only for huge enterprises with complicated workflows. In fact, it can work for organizations of any size, in any industry. The concept of workflow software definitely deserves your consideration. Once your team is proficient at using it, you can expect lower costs, faster processes, and a happier workforce. All these things positively affect your organization’s bottom line. Here’s how to ensure your workflow software implementation goes well.
Establish Your Baseline
With workflow software, as with a roadmap, you can’t figure out how to get where you’re going unless you know where you are. Document your workflows as they are right now – not as you would like them to be. Be honest, and don’t leave out any steps, especially if they highlight inefficiencies. There’s no secret code for how to do this. Your documented workflow for your email newsletter, for instance, might look like this:
• Writer completes copy and sends it to her marketing supervisor
• Marketing supervisor reviews and edits copy
• Marketing supervisor gets senior marketing manager’s approval
• Marketing supervisor delivers final copy to the newsletter editor
• Editor produces newsletter and submits to marketing supervisor for final approval
• Editor schedules release after obtaining approval
Don’t Overreach With Your First Project
While you will undoubtedly find many possibilities for applying workflow management software to processes, it’s best to start out with a small, clearly-defined process that you can get your arms around. For example, your first project may be replacing the paper forms that new hires must complete with electronic forms that are automatically delivered to the proper recipient upon completion. Once you do this, and iron out any unexpected problems you encounter, you’re more prepared to apply workflow software to another, larger process.
Solicit Support from End-Users, Stakeholders, and Managers
For workflow software to have the greatest positive effect, you need support from a number of people in a number of roles. The importance of support of the end-users who are responsible for performing the processes cannot be underestimated. If end-users believe that workflow software is being imposed from “on high,” they will probably feel threatened or suspicious. You also need the support of management, who will need to understand what your workflow software is expected to accomplish in terms of productivity, cost savings, or other measures.
Automate Processes That Will Have Noticeable Impact
Automation is great, but it can’t achieve much in the way of results if it’s applied to a process that’s infrequently used. For example, automating time sheets by replacing manual forms with electronic ones that automatically funnel data to a spreadsheet or database for calculating wages, taxes, and withholding can make a tremendous positive difference in your payroll process, even if you only have four or five employees. Automating, say, the key distribution process when you plan to move offices in six months won’t accomplish much.
Treat Workflow Management as an Iterative Process
Workflow software is a tool, and like the sharpening stone a chef uses for his favorite knife, it helps people do their work better. And since markets, customers, and workplaces change, processes have to evolve as well. Consider workflow management to be an iterative method, where you regularly review processes and identify new ways to make them better. That’s an important way to sharpen your competitive edge.
Don’t be intimidated by the term “workflow software.” Solutions exist that allow the non-programmer to map out, automate, and fine-tune processes using a friendly, drag-and-drop interface. PerfectForms makes it easy to create and automate workflows, and create the electronic forms necessary to accomplish these workflows as efficiently as possible. It also interacts with other applications you already use, like Salesforce or SAP, and a built-in connection agent lets you create custom interfaces with other applications without programming. We invite you to contact us at any time to find out more about PerfectForms and would be delighted to answer any questions you may have.