4 Tips for Creating an Effective Workflow Model
Blog: Comindware Blog
Faulty workflow models are fairly easy to recognize. When a workflow model has not been thought all the way through, you’ll discover work-arounds, delays, re-working and gaps where steps have been omitted. Substandard workflow modelling produces processes that are illogical and cumbersome.
Organizations of all sizes and types are reaping the benefits of workflow modeling.
The goal of high quality workflow modeling is helping a team accomplish goals effectively, in a timely manner. Great workflows deliver products and services that are more consistent and reliable, and that comply with applicable regulations. But workflow models don’t have to be perfectly rigid and unyielding. The best ones can accommodate variations in conditions that arise, such as a key staff member being absent. Following are 4 tips for creating an effective workflow model.
1. Start By Brainstorming
Even if you think you have a process memorized, it’s a good idea to do some brainstorming before you pick up your workflow modeling tools. Participants in the brainstorming session should give a series of specific answers to “What happens next?” If there are decision points in a workflow, these should be delineated, and your workflow model should show how work proceeds based on which decision is made.
Brainstorm the process from beginning to end, leaving out no steps. Include the steps nobody likes to admit to, like “Panic and see if Marketing has any extra supplies we can borrow.” Only by laying out your workflows as they actually are can you determine where you can improve them.
2. Challenge the Results of Your Brainstorming
Once you have your current workflow mapped out, including all its flaws, it’s time to go back and challenge it. Where could things be done better in a different order? Could more steps be automated? Could you fulfill a compliance requirement by generating a report at one point in the workflow? Look for steps that are unnecessary or duplicated, and make an honest assessment of whether responsible parties are assigned the right job for their abilities. You might not necessarily act upon all the inefficiencies you identify, but simply knowing they exist is beneficial.
3. Determine if Some Processes Can Take Place in Parallel
Not all workflow elements have to take place sequentially. Some can take place in parallel.
If you have a complex workflow, it’s worth analyzing it to learn if any of the steps in the process could be done in parallel rather than in sequence. Could your social media marketing push take place at the same time that travel is booking rooms for a trade show? Could kitchen preparation take place while a work crew takes table linens and utensils to the site of the event you’re catering? Often, when you’ve squeezed every bit of efficiency out of a process, the only way to improve it further is to set it up so multiple steps can take place at the same time. The right workflow modeling tools help you do this.
4. Define Roles and Responsibilities Clearly
Effective workflow modeling depends on defining and clarifying roles at every step. Each participant needs to know what he or she is responsible for, at what point input or action is needed, and who the workflow is handed off to once those responsibilities are fulfilled. You may have to explicitly state what each person is tasked with so you can be certain that no steps are left out. If possible, you should rehearse a new workflow for precisely this reason. It’s much better to find out a step was omitted when you’re learning and practicing than when your workflow “goes live.”
Effective Workflow Modelling Is Within Your Grasp
Workflow modeling isn’t some mysterious skill that requires special programming skills to put into place. With the right tools, you can plan and execute workflows with outstanding efficiency, reducing costs, accelerating processes, and enhancing your company’s bottom line. Comindware Tracker is designed so that non-programmers can plan, model, test, execute, and refine workflows. Large enterprises have enjoyed the benefits of workflow modeling for a long time, and now that power is accessible to organizations of every size and type.