10 reasons why efficient workflow is a critical tool for your business

10 reasons why efficient workflow is a critical tool for your business

Written by Alan Ingram on Tuesday, 09 August 2016. Posted in Business Process Management, Workflow automation

During the course of our partnership with customers, there is usually a point that constitutes the “aha” moment. It is at that time they realise the importance and value of planning and mapping out an optimised workflow.

While few dispute the need for workflow, it usually requires seeing the workflow planned out before people spot and tackle what are minor discussion points at the planning stage, but would be business show-stoppers during production.

Developing your workflow has challenges; it’s like planning the world’s largest reception and taking into consideration every plate, glass, napkin, hors d’oeuvres, beverage and the thousands of other details that must be coordinated beforehand. Planning the reception mandates viewing the event holistically yet acting with singular precision.

During the course of our partnership with customers, there is usually a point that constitutes the “aha” moment. It is at that time they realise the importance and value of planning and mapping out an optimised workflow.

While few dispute the need for workflow, it usually requires seeing the workflow planned out before people spot and tackle what are minor discussion points at the planning stage, but would be business show-stoppers during production.

Business process mapping has challenges; it’s like planning the world’s largest reception and taking into consideration every plate, glass, napkin, hors d’oeuvres, beverage and the thousands of other details that must be coordinated beforehand. Planning the reception mandates viewing the event holistically yet acting with singular precision.

Workflows operate in a similar way. They create a foundation on top of which business activity can happen more efficiently. The result is the ability to view, operate, manage, analyse and improve the detail of your business workflows in dramatic ways, but this is only possible if you start from a holistic plan.

It is likely that you have a sense for what an effective workflow solution is — and what it can do. The following list may be helpful in better understanding specific areas that offer tangible benefits to organisations:

1) Paper trail is replaced by a digital trail

We have talked with people who manage warehouses full of files. The result is a morass of paper, which is bad enough in cabinets for the space it takes up but it is an even bigger risk when it is in-flight as it can easily be lost or misplaced and transfer is slow. Workflow software keeps digital copies of files, automates the routing of tasks, alerts those who need to take action immediately and keeps a record of everything relevant to the process.

2) Eliminate redundancy

So much activity in an organisation is duplicative (or, worst, wasteful). A workflow solution helps to identify up-front the critical points of activity, enabling you to define specific actions, participants and results that should occur and eliminate the waste.

3) No stopping for signatures

Digital signatures or authentication allow for fast approvals (including executives on the go) and the reduction in time lost as a result of waiting for paper-based signatures.

4) A better understanding of how time relates to action

Business activities are often deadline driven. Effective workflow solutions provide triggers that keep processes moving according to a timeline, enabling participants to see precisely when and where input is required. If a deadline is in danger of being missed, even if it is many steps later in the workflow and not apparent to the current participants, a good workflow solution can raise the alarm.

5) Greater insights

Your business processes are meant to deliver results. You should know what is happening within your operation at any point in time. BPM software like Process Director by BP Logix give you insights into what is occurring within your processes, the people involved and a sense for how effectively your organisation meets its deadlines.

6) Automation focuses on activities

Automated workflow allows you to set up processes, then let them run. The majority of work that occurs within processes can be automated, freeing up time and allowing you and your team to focus on more strategic activities.

7) Consistency, consistency, consistency

Once your workflow is mapped out it can be delivered through a workflow automation tool. This means that whether it is run once, ten times or a thousand times, you can guarantee every single instance has met the same rules and had the same process enforced upon it.

8) Workflow never forgets

Every activity in digital workflow is tracked. Whether you need information for compliance purposes or to review how your organisation operates, the ability to quickly see the ‘who, what, where and how’ of your processes provides important insights.

9) The business runs the business

Workflow used to be the domain of people who walked around buildings with plastic flowchart tools; it was a fairly specific function. Now, there are workflow solutions that enable and encourage non-developers to build, adapt and manage workflows. Workflow has become an important tool for business managers themselves, ensuring that the requirements of the business are not at the mercy or interpretation from IT.

10) Encourages collaboration

Whether through more access points (desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile), more communication channels (eMail, social media, instant messaging), or more platform support (on-premise, cloud, hybrid), a solid workflow solution gives everyone involved with your processes—both inside and outside of your firewall—the appropriate level of access along with the tools to make a difference.

If you would like to discuss your workflow challenges, please contact us.

About the Author

Alan Ingram

Alan Ingram

Alan established ePC to support Cardiff Software solutions following their acquisition by Verity in 2004. Over the last ten years, Alan has established ePC as a dynamic, focused and financially secure company delivering complex data capture and business process management solutions to both the public and private sector - backed up by a strong customer service ethos.

Boasting over 15 years’ experience within the data capture industry, Alan has sold, installed, operated, developed, trained and supported data capture and workflow solutions from industry leaders such as ABBYY, BP Logix and OpenText.

Alan is responsible for the strategic direction of ePC’s technical services and managing relationships with key client accounts.

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