Have you ever wondered why many businesses struggle after growing rapidly? The answer lies in inefficient processes.
Tasks taking too much time to complete, employees clueless about their responsibilities, time wasted in paperwork and approvals — these issues only form the tip of the iceberg. Many businesses in India today, be it small or large, are highly inefficient. The result — productivity takes a hit, costs balloon, employee motivation declines, and strategic goals become challenging to achieve. IDC, a global leader in market intelligence research, suggests that businesses earn 20-30% less revenue because of inefficient processes.
A business may look perfect from the outside but maybe utterly chaotic from the inside.
Thankfully, there is a way out in the form of workflow management.
What is Workflow Management?
Workflow management is simply managing and coordinating a business’ workflow. As we know, every business relies on various processes. Each process involves different types of work or workflows. A workflow is thus a series of tasks that form part of a more significant task or process. Workflows can be of two types:
- Sequential workflows: These workflows consist of a series of tasks, with each task performed sequentially, one after the other. So, if any task in the sequence fails, the workflow gets disrupted. For example, in the lead follow-up workflow, the first step is to register leads, the second step is to assign an agent for follow-up, the third step is to make the follow-up call, and the fourth step is to register the call results in the CRM.
- Parallel workflows: These are workflows that run simultaneously and are independent of each other. The disruption of any one workflow does not affect the performance of the other workflows. For example, marketing, legal, sales, and technology departments working simultaneously to launch a new tech product form a parallel workflow.
Multiple sequential and parallel workflows could be running in any business at any given point in time. Many such workflows form part of the business’s core operation, whereas other workflows are meant for far more trivial purposes. However, an organization and its management must stay on top of these workflows at all times. This is where principles of workflow management prove to be of great help.
With the help of workflow management, an organization can streamline its workflow and ensure that these workflows are lean and agile. Workflow management also helps to establish hierarchy and regularly monitor and optimize workflows for efficiency.
Workflow management is thus a management discipline in itself. It is a subset of the broader business process management discipline or BPM.
So, how do we implement workflow management in real life? Do we hire dedicated managers for this purpose? That would be too costly. A far more efficient and cheaper alternative is a workflow management system.
What is a Workflow Management System?
A workflow management system, in simple terms, is a workflow application software. This workflow application helps define all the business workflows clearly and assign tasks to relevant people. Goals are clearly defined in the form of measurable KPIs. Relationships between various workflows are also defined. Notification systems are put in place so that the relevant people always know what is going on in any particular workflow. Everyone can monitor all workflows at any time, and relevant employees can sort out any disruption in real-time.
Benefits of a Workflow Application
A workflow application offers several benefits for an organization’s stakeholders:
- Better communication: As stated earlier, a workflow application clearly defines who is responsible for any particular task in a workflow. The task requirements, deadlines, and goals are also clearly defined with the help of measurable KPIs or deliverables. Thus, every employee clearly knows their role.
- Real-time monitoring: With the help of a workflow application, management can constantly monitor all workflows in a business. In case of any disruption, the application identifies the responsible stakeholder quickly. The responsible stakeholder can then take quick action to keep the workflows running.
- Better productivity: Employees waste a lot of time finding out about task requirements and then assembling resources to finish such tasks. With the help of a workflow application, management can clearly define tasks, provide resources, and set goals. Employees can simply log in and perform the necessary work without wasting time gathering information.
- Reduced costs: Many workflows involve unnecessary approvals or repetitive steps that waste precious time and resources in any organization. With the help of a workflow application, management can identify such unnecessary steps and eliminate them from workflows. The result is that organizations can do things faster and at a lower cost.
- Better service level agreement (SLA) performance: Sticking to SLA targets is paramount for any organization. With the help of workflow applications, organizations can prioritize all workflows and tasks, optimize their performance, and achieve the desired SLA targets.
Use cases of a workflow application
Workflow management systems have applications in every function of a business. Here are some cases:
IT: incident reporting, service requests, virus detection
Sales and marketing: lead submission, follow-ups, invoicing, review handling
HR: employee onboarding, vacation requests, performance evaluations
What should you do?
Chaos breeds inefficiency, and inefficiency breeds sub-par performance.
A good workflow management system will help you streamline your workflows and unlock the maximum productivity potential of your workforce. It will enable you to grow your revenues by keeping costs escalations at bay.
To sum up, a good workflow management system will prevent your business from unraveling due to chaotic processes. Engage with trusted technology providers to set up a workflow application for your business, and propel your business to a lean and agile growth trajectory.