When Is It Time to Scrap an Old Workflow and Create a New One?

Workflow automation

Like physical machinery, workflows may be efficient or inefficient, whole or broken beyond repair. Additionally, time itself changes the context in which a workflow operates, and that alone can make what used to be a perfectly functional workflow into something less than optimal.

There are many rules of thumb about repairing versus replacing when it comes to machinery. The same concepts behind them can be applied to the repair-versus-replace dilemma you face with older workflows.

The most important principle with machinery is that if it is high-quality and it is maintained regularly, it should be a long time before replacing it becomes more cost-effective than repair. If you are concerned that your workflows aren’t meeting your needs, here are some thoughts about repairing and replacing them to maximize their value.

Start Out Right to Make Workflows Last

Was your existing workflow designed with care, tested thoroughly, and used regularly with success? If so, then it has probably lasted longer than a haphazard, thrown-together workflow. Just like with equipment and machinery, starting with a quality product that meets your needs is ideal. Even then, a time will come when you ask, “Should we continue fine-tuning this workflow, or should we start over with something new?”

Many factors influence the “right” answer, including workforce turnover, technology advancements, and whether all the moving parts of the workflow make sense. Eventually, you may realize that your current workflow has been modified so many times that it bears little resemblance to the original. In these cases, it’s probably worthwhile to at least consider replacing it with a brand-new workflow.

The “50 Percent Rule” Can Be a Starting Point

It’s an extremely general “rule,” but the so-called 50% rule can help you determine whether you’re better off fixing or replacing an existing workflow.

  • How much would it cost to scrap the existing workflow and replace it from the ground up?
  • Would repairing the existing workflow to get the equivalent functionality cost more than half of that?

If so, then replacement may be your best option, particularly if new workflow automation tools are available that weren’t available before.

Fortunately, if you have been using world-class online form builder software, the cost of upgrading an existing workflow can be much less than half the cost of starting over with a new workflow. But if your workforce has changed considerably, if regulations have necessitated the addition of steps, or if major workflow steps are no longer necessary, then starting over may be worthwhile, particularly if you have good workflow software that makes this simple and straightforward.

Workflow automation

A major change in regulations can necessitate major changes to or replacement of a workflow.

Replacing a Workflow to Get Maximum Value from It

If it is time to overhaul a workflow completely, think about it like buying a car.

  • What types of features and efficiencies matter the most for the workflow?
  • How can many “extra” moving parts put your organization at excess risk of things going wrong with the workflow?
  • Is someone trying to sell you a great-looking workflow that is tempting, but may not meet your needs?

When it’s time to redo a workflow process from square one, evaluating what isn’t working with the existing workflow is essential. Where are there bottlenecks and breakdowns? Are there steps that can be combined? What “nice-to-have” feature would make the most difference in the workflow experience for the people who will actually be using it.

Think of it this way: if you live in a moderate climate and have to commute daily, maybe you don’t need a remote starter for your new car, but having it would greatly increase your quality of life in wintertime. Something similar can be true of workflow automation features.

The right workflow management software makes all the difference when it comes to attaining workflow automation bliss. PerfectForms not only lets you create, test, and modify fully-custom workflows with ease, it provides an all-in-one solution for creating online forms. The flexibility of PerfectForms means that your HR manager, your IT chief, your facilities manager, and more can create online forms and workflows that do precisely what they want. And PerfectForms makes it easy to fine-tune workflows so you’re less likely to have to scrap them and start over. Find out for yourself. You can test drive PerfectForms for free and discover how easy workflow automation can be.


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