What is a workflow?
A workflow is a process or method that one employs to complete tasks. Companies often have workflows without formally defining them. Your company probably has hundreds or thousands of workflows that you never think about – everything from how you assign sales leads to how you send out your monthly bills.
Why define your workflows?
So, if many of these processes are already happening, what is there to change? Intentionally defining, mapping and understanding your workflows is essential to optimizing your business productivity. Many aspects of your work environment and business outcomes can improve when you understand the flow of your business processes. Once a workflow is documented, it can be improved and streamlined by actively questioning the value of every step of the workflow and exploring ways to eliminate, consolidate, or improve steps. Doing so allows the organization to increase efficiency, speed workflow completion, reduce costs, and improve internal and external customer experiences.
How can workflows improve workplace productivity?
When you take a deeper look at your workflows, you’ll likely find many possible ways to automate your workflows to make day-to-day processes more efficient. By mapping your workflows, you can see which workflows change every time and which often repeat. Automating workflows that often repeat saves your employees time on repeated processes so they can focus their time and energy on the most productive activities, like solving strategic and complex problems.
Mapping your workflows allows you to standardize common processes used by your organization. By standardizing your workflows, you ensure that processes are completed correctly the first time, improving the accuracy of your results. This consistency also makes onboarding and training new employees faster and easier.
Electronic workflows reduce the loss of information that can occur in a traditional paper trail. Every step of the workflow is saved and recorded electronically in one connected interface, which means no more lost files in stacks of paper on your desk or at the bottom of your inbox.
Nearly every workflow involves some form of communication. Siloed departments that do not communicate and collaborate effectively lead to inefficiencies and mistakes. A defined workflow can automate steps in communication across departments, allowing seamless interdepartmental collaboration.
You might think that automating your workflows will take a level of personal touch out of your employee or customer interactions. However, in reality, workflows allow for more personalized communication experiences. Workflows integrate with CRMs and other systems that have loads of data to make each interaction highly personalized.
By tracking your workflows digitally, you can collect data about each step of the workflow to better understand your interactions, efficiencies, areas of waste, and more. These insights allow your organization to continually improve your business processes over time. Tracking and automating steps of your workflow allows you to better analyze outcomes and performance.