Workflows for Less “Work,” More “Flow”

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Workflows are the procedures that businesses use to accomplish tasks. They may be simple or complex, manual, automated, or some combination of the two. Every business has workflows, whether they’re defined or not.

It’s not unusual for workflows to arise organically when someone starts a business so that the people, materials, and resources at hand are used efficiently. But this type of “organic” workflow is almost always outgrown as a new business gains its footing. Unfortunately, some businesses retain outdated and inefficient workflows out of entropy, when sleeker, better workflows could be developed with little effort. Here are some things you should know so that your organization’s workflows have more “flow” and less “work.”

Key Benefits of Optimized Workflows

Optimized workflows ensure that at every step of a business process, people and resources are being used at maximum efficiency. Waiting for someone else to complete a step is minimized as many parts of the process as possible are automated. One of the most important benefits of optimized workflows is consistently high quality from job to job.

  • Optimized workflows increase employee productivity because team members aren’t bogged down with inefficiencies.
  • Optimized workflows offer excellent visibility into processes so authorized persons can know the exact status of a workflow in real time.
  • Optimized workflows orient an organization toward a path of continual improvement.

Major Types of Workflows

Workflows can be customized to the team carrying them out, but there are three basic categories of workflows.

  • Some workflows are sequential.
  • These progress from one step to the next without back-tracking.
  • Other workflows may pause at a predetermined point.
    • Example: An order is not large enough to fill a shipping container, so a workflow may not progress until there is enough material to completely fill the container.
  • Other workflows may be rule-driven.
    • Rules inserted into sequential workflows to influence which step comes next. Say your e-commerce store offers free shipping on orders over $50. When a customer completes an order and checks out, the workflow can determine whether or not the order exceeds $50 and will proceed to either calculate shipping charges or skip to order submission.

How to Clean Up Your Workflows

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Like a tidy home, tidy workflows are more efficient and enjoyable.

Workflows evolve almost continually because circumstances evolve. Businesses periodically re-evaluate workflows to learn where inefficiencies exist and where improvement is possible. Some of the steps organizations and teams can take to clean up workflows include:

  • Looking for repeating steps. When efforts are needlessly duplicated, efficiency is less than it could be.
  • Having an outsider evaluate the process. This could be someone from outside the organization, or simply someone from a different department. It’s often easier for someone with an outsider perspective to recognize inefficiencies.
  • Being willing to make changes. Change is difficult, and people will sometimes cling to the predictability of an existing workflow even if it is riddled with inefficiencies. Leaders and their teams must be willing to tackle change when necessary.

Why the Right Workflow Software Is Essential

Using workflow management software that is outdated, slow, or doesn’t offer the features your organization needs can hold it back, giving competitors an advantage. Ideally, your workflow software should make it easy for workflow users to create customized online forms and workflows that include the exact steps required to get the job done.

It should not necessitate your bringing in a programmer or an IT professional to create forms and workflows. The workflow software you choose should allow you to modify forms and workflows easily so that they evolve with your organization, your team, and the prevailing business conditions.

PerfectForms answers these needs and then some. It has an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface that allows your team to create online forms and workflows without the need for programming. It’s mobile-friendly and designed to ensure that the people who use a particular workflow regularly can design it to meet their needs perfectly. And when forms and workflows must be modified, that can be done with minimal disruption. Interested in learning more about optimized workflows? A great place to start is by checking out the PerfectForms Help Guides, where you’ll see exactly how PerfectForms takes your workflow needs from idea to reality.

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