What is a workflow management system?
12 November 2019
A company is made up of a series of processes and functions. From sales and marketing to operations and finance. A workflow management system plots the critical path to completing multi-function processes, effectively communicating tasks and responsibilities to relevant parties within the process.
Effective workflow management systems don’t just communicate tasks and responsibilities but also automate tasks and notify external stakeholders such as customers and suppliers.
Why is workflow management important?
When executed effectively, workflow management can have a huge impact on a business. Beyond simply working more efficiently, it can improve scalability, customer satisfaction and the profitability of your business.
Workflow management shouldn’t be a one-time action either. Technological advances or process changes represent an opportunity to evaluate your workflows and make further improvements.
Workflow management is also important as it helps to remove over-reliance on individuals within a business. Detailing your workflows and processes means you’ll standardise, gaining a level of consistency and making it easier to monitor the performance of your team, too.
Where do I start?
The first step to implementing a workflow system is to understand the processes within your business. Without first writing down your processes, it’s very difficult to effectively implement a workflow system. We use software such as Draw.io to help us map the process flow.
Your process map should contain any relevant customer touchpoints and the interactions with different departments within the business.
Having established your written processes, share it with the team, look for opportunities to refine and reduce process waste. Then, highlight the areas that elements of the process that can be automated, or standardised. These elements are critical to getting the most out of your workflow management system.
What are the common mistakes when implementing a workflow management system?
Not everything can be automated, and not everything that can be automated SHOULD be automated… I hope that’s clear.
There are elements of processes that you may want to retain manual control over, and there are elements that you should retain control of. This all depends on your business, your approach and your values.
A great example of this would be a business that prides itself on personal service. You don’t want to automate all customer communications, as this will have a detrimental impact on the personal service value you hold so dearly.
However, you can still save time and ensure processes are followed. Instead of automating the communication, build a workflow process that informs your customer service representative or account manager to update the customer, even suggesting the method of communication.
It’s not about creating the path of least resistance but creating the critical path that supports your business objectives.
Want to learn more about how you can map your processes? Read Michael’s blog; 8 steps to process improvement.
Or get in touch if you want to discuss how a workflow management system could change your business.