What is Workflow?
Workflow does not refer to popular hashtags of mouth pouting, Instagram loving workers trying to showcase their beautiful office spaces. No, Workflow as the name implies suggests in the broadest of definitions, a process or template set in an effort to guide work done in an organisation. Don’t understand? Read on
In the simplest of terms, Workflow is a coordination of activities to be executed, mostly within an organisation. Now, Workflow Management, duh.. Managing the workflow, I mean I just added management to the word for pete’s sake.
Workflow management is the coordination of tasks executed by an organisation such that larger chunks of these tasks are broken down into smaller tasks, sequenced and monitored to ensure an effective workflow within the organisation. Basically, Workflow refers to achieving results, while workflow management suggests achieving better results based on set goals. It’s worth knowing that Workflow management may be automated or manual.
Generally, Workflow management may be deployed within the confines of the human resource sector of an organisation or even more commonly within automated systems such as manufacturing plants. The idea of the workflow management is to ensure a rather effective and precise execution of work within the said organisation. A typical example of such would be with regards measuring just how effective your organisation’s sales techniques are.
How might this have worked previously?
Hypothetically, you have a business which you opened in the 80s. Obviously, you never imagined your company will become a fortune 500 company. Back then, you invested in an AS400 and business seemed to be moving on fine, identification of loose ends of a really minute functional department which included your wife, head of paperwork, your son and his bike, the driver/errand boy/messenger/spy. Then you sitting in your garage working your way through piles and piles of paperwork, but then it was the 80s, paperwork was luxury work.
Everything was almost very easily accounted for, and all you needed to do to get coffee bean supplies to the customers in the next town was to yell your kid’s name “Tommy!!” and he’d appear with his Lincoln escalade of a bicycle to effectively supply to Mr. Baby his due coffee bean seeds in the next town.
It’s the 90s and your business has managed to acquire another business which runs an ERP as its SAP. Soon enough, your newly employed head of sales introduces Salesforce, and moves over a third of your sales workforce to the new platform promising miracle percentage conversion of leads in his fancy suit and funny moustache.
Everyone is on a different platform, a lack of integration, and functionality of the work flow management system causes issues such as duplication, tedious processing of information, issues with finding the right data when required, and maybe even the apocalypse. lol sorry my bad. But it gets really messy. You’ve had it up to your neck, you begin a complete implementation of a new workflow management system, eliminating all earlier versions in all departments. A month in and you can see that your sales workforce of over three hundred staff are not converting as many leads into won opportunities as your wife singlehandedly converted during church dinners in the 80s.
Another look at the Reporting/Dashboards and your KPI’s suggest the newly employed nerdy guy who handles the company’s social media accounts is converting more leads through the Instagram platform. Now you know what channels produce the best value for the monetary efforts put in them.
If you had a difficult time reading the scenario above just like me, here is a smaller, and easier scenario to assimilate (The lazy people edition). You need to cook a stew. You have just four ingredients to cook this stew. The ingredients are Curry, Chicken, Turkey, and beef. (***I hold nothing against vegetarians**).
These ingredients are to be tossed in a pot of boiling water in a certain sequence with an exact measure so as to obtain the required output. With workflow management, you know exactly when to put your beef, how many minutes it should be left boiling, when to wash your beef 😊 and under what conditions the curry should be added and for how long to simmer before you turn off the heat.
When do you realise you need a workflow management system?
When you pay huge amounts of money in cash for adverts in a bid to boost sales except you can’t effectively monitor the leads which finally became won or lost opportunities, resulting in lost time and money.
When you have an entire department for customer service personnel who sit all day and chat, leaving phones blaring while their pay checks continue to drop, thereby killing productivity as you have no basis of obtaining feedback with regards what existing accounts or contacts turned out to be won opportunities or new ones for that matter.
Being constantly out run and out manoeuvred by industry competition simply because you lack effective Customer relationship management tools. Your competition on the other hand is having a field day handing out loyalty program cards to customers and making bonds stronger. And because ***grown ass** customers like to be treated like little princesses, you have no choice but to employ a new IT guy (Bob) who can “supposedly” integrate the new Dynamics 365 from Microsoft into your existing platform to enable better customer relationship management. Did I forget to mention that Bob has a little idea of what he’s doing the whole time? ***phew**
Wouldn’t you love to sit in your chair and be able to measure just how well your company is doing by looking at charts and numbers presented on your Reporting/Dashboards (KPIs). Imagine knowing the weak link in your company, knowing who to fire and when (my bad), where to employ additional workforce, or a specialised skill set. It’s like playing god mode on a video game, except you can’t bless people….