It is the quality of your workflows that decides the quality of your outputs.
It is difficult to get anything done when half your workforce is shooting arrows in the dark, trying to work in tandem with different sources of truth.
Managing workflows inefficiently isn’t any different from being directionless about the progress of your work. If you can relate to this statement, there is a problem.
There isn’t a singular factor that takes all the blame – the inefficiencies stem from age-old, traditional methods of working that have become obsolete and no longer cater to the modernized, digital-first approach to things.
To bring about positive change, manual tasking must be reduced to mindful work that needs critical thinking. For everything else, organizations must look for automated or better ways to design and manage workflows.
Workflow management is an art of mindful deliberation, consistency, and awareness of the bigger picture. To that end, workflow management systems have been helping organizations squeeze efficiencies out of their established SOPs.
To put things into perspective, the global market for workflow management systems has been reported with a CAGR of 26.3% (2021 to 2026), reaching a figure of $18.7 billion by 2026.
If your organization is also considering investing in a workflow management system, you should know what it is and the key features you shouldn’t be compromising on.
Workflow is exactly what it sounds like: the flow of work. Workflow management, thus, is the activity that orchestrates how the work towards an objective must flow to achieve it within the parameters specified for it.
In simpler words, workflow management is the design, coordination, and optimization of a string of tasks that ultimately build up to the objectives and goals that a business intends for them.
Managing a workflow consists of making each task more efficient and well-coordinated between teams. This helps best utilize the resources deployed for it and reinforce the quality metrics involved therein.
For example, if your business needs to release marketing pamphlets, the workflow would normally involve the following steps:
Managing the workflow mentioned above would require coordination between two teams, collecting data on a timeline, deriving insights from it, designing efficiently, and holding periodic meetings to keep things ironed.
Every workflow management system has its own set of unique features that add value to the whole. However, the seven features listed below are must-haves:
Workflow design is a subjective matter. Professionals from different walks of life represent workflows differently.
What you need is a software or tool that can conceal the complex connections and context of the workflow but display a more comprehensible, simpler circuit of tasks that even Donald Duck can understand and follow.
Highlight: Select a tool that encourages a clear representation of ideas and hides the unnecessary fuzz in the background.
Business is happening on the clouds today. Lasting in tough competition has become synonymous with migrating your workflows to the cloud.
A workflow management system, thus, must be seamlessly integrable with all your plugins, services, modules, apps, and tools, regardless of how it has been deployed.
It makes no sense to have a workflow management system for accounting if it can’t automatically pull invoice data from your mass-emailer apps.
Highlight: Avoid software that requires extra add-ons, plugins, or a long-winded process to integrate.
Would you measure a gym workout without counting the calories you burnt?
No effort can be gauged without a quantitative measure of its performance. Software, too, falls under the same ambit. To fine-tune an automated workflow to the performance metrics that you are chasing, you must have a way to measure its output.
Highlight: A KPI-based workflow design system helps you identify the problem areas in a process and tune them right.
Each process has its own workflow, and each workflow is unique. While most are linear and follow a predictable path, there are a few cases where parallel instances may need to be accounted for.
For example, booking international travel tickets and tracking visa application status for a travel agency is a unique, parallel workflow.
Pro Tip: Not all software have this feature. The ones that do may not have other features you want. You can build your own solution with no-code software builders like Hubler.
Highlight: Acquire a workflow management system that lets you create complex paths when needed.
Workflows are interdepartmental and involve professionals across various designations of an organization.
Sometimes they may contain information that is reserved for the higher-level executives only. Such cases necessitate a system where access controls can be built-in to prevent potential risks to sensitive data.
Highlight: A workflow management system needs to account for pan-organizational administrative authority for authorized-only access in a workflow.
An automated workflow should work like gravity – it should run itself. However, to ensure that it happens, a workflow management system needs to proactively line up future dependencies and get them approved beforehand.
For example, if reconciliation is lined up a week from now, the workflow management system should initiate invoice approvals today to have them all sorted by the due dates.
Highlight: Select a workflow management system that can initiate reminders and notifications to streamline downstream tasks.
It cannot be stressed enough that the workflow management system needs to be simple, intuitive, and user-friendly. If it isn’t drag-and-drop, it isn’t worth it.
Most of the workflow management systems today clearly mention their offering as “WYSISYG” – What You See Is What You Get – which makes total sense. If you aren’t sure about software off the bat, don’t get it.
Pro Tip: You can build your own workflow management system instead of compromising over WYSIWYG. Get a no-code platform like Hubler, and just Lego it from scratch.
Highlight: If a workflow management system looks like rocket science, it is best to look elsewhere.
Workflows are like the thought process of your organization's mind. If they get sloppy, your organization can't "think" or produce results effectively.
For this reason, workflow management systems are all the rage – they help steer the tasks in the right direction and maintain operative focus to improve output.
Off-the-shelf products work great, but it is always better to have a custom-made solution that fits your business like a glove. Consider getting a no-code solution like Hubler to build a made-to-order workflow management system.