Workflow is the way work gets done to create value. It is a predetermined set of steps to optimize efficiency and eliminate waste. Improving workflow is a way for businesses to improve continually. The danger is that it has the potential to become a structure that cannot be altered.
Workflows may include visualizations, documents, checklists, or software. The value of workflow is that it is effortless to measure and predict outcomes. There are several advantages to creating workflows.
Workflows reduce project risk. As a project becomes more complex, it may require more team members. Workflow can help ensure reduced delays in the schedule and reduce possible disputes and costs by limiting work that needs to be redone.
Workflow may affect organizational change. When a team is empowered and works collaboratively, there is less need for supervision and management intervention.
Implementing workflows can lead to process change. Businesses should always be looking at their current processes to develop more efficient processes and workflows.
Workflows define the roles and responsibilities of everyone on your team. Instead of being unsure of which duty belongs to whom, workflow sorts that out for them. Workflow also identifies an approximation of how long a task should take.
Workflows provide transparency and are an easy way to communicate the process to key stakeholders. When your business is running smoothly, leaders do not need to focus on operations. Instead, they can focus on strategy to promote the development of your team members and the growth of your business.
Workflows provide an audit trail. This creates a secure method to find inefficiencies in your process and track any changes.
The problem with workflow is that it takes empowerment away from your team and limits the decisions they can make. The larger your company becomes, the more true this becomes. Workflow that is not reviewed and updated becomes an excuse for “we’ve always done it this way.” Standardizing workflow does have its benefits but should not be a step by step set of instructions if there is an opportunity to perform more effectively. Consider using defaults instead of standardization.
If you allow projects and work to progress within the workflow guidelines without laying it out step by step, you may be surprised by newfound efficiencies. While the milestones will still be met, you know your team is doing everything they can to perform their best work to meet the quality expectations set by you and your customers. This gives them purpose. In turn, this helps them–and you–thrive.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to improve your business’ workflow, reach out to us, we’re here to help you grow.