Regardless of your type of organisation or your vertical market, all businesses are at their best when they are equal parts organised and efficient. This is why your business processes are ultimately one of the most important parts of your operation on a daily basis — they help empower sustainability, encourage growth, and make the most of scarce human resources.
Too many companies are still struggling with their digital transformation efforts. Part of this has to do with a lack of understanding of just how critical these workflows are to begin with. That, in essence, is why workflow management is so important. It not only aids operational efficiency, it helps create a much-needed level of accountability across departments that will serve you well before, during and after your digital transformation is complete.
Breaking Things Down
To get a better understanding of just how crucial workflow management is, you first need to learn as much about workflows themselves as possible.
At its core, a workflow is a system of tasks that, when taken together, make up some type of business process within your company. They are a series of steps that are all carried out in a particular sequence, with each one depending on the step that came before it.
Workflows are everywhere in the business world. Take an onboarding process for an accounting firm, for example (similar processes will exist in most organisations). There are many tasks that must be completed. At a high a typical onboarding process may involve:
Record client information in CRM
- Request CDD information
- Prepare GDPR information
- Send and receive appointment letter
- Send welcome communication
- Send and receive financial questionnaire
- Schedule meeting
- Prepare agenda
- Determine client requirements
- Define services required
- Add client notes to CRM
- Request financial documents
- Confirm receipt
- Analyse client situation
- Prepare strategy
- Prepare reports
- Share analysis and reports with client
You can see that, even at a high level, there are a lot of tasks involved. Each step in the chain is important, and they must all occur in a controlled manner for the ultimate action to be taken.
Workflow management becomes the key to maintaining maximum efficiency during processes like the one outlined above. Workflow management makes sure that each step is both important and is happening at the right time in the necessary sequence of events. It also means that all parties are being notified when an action is taken, and that management can check progress.
In a larger sense, workflow management helps to make sure that there is a clearly defined action at both the end and the beginning of the process. Most importantly, it also makes sure that the workflow itself is easily repeatable — which is particularly essential for tasks that need to be completed with consistent results on a regular basis.
Without appropriate tools the management of these processes is typically by a series of manual checklists. These are very difficult to control and there is no management of the process.
All of this also underlines the importance of implementing a workflow management solution within your organisation. Not only does it allow you to implement workflow automation to free up the valuable time of your human employees so that they can focus on more important matters, but it also offers features like process reporting that bring a higher level of transparency to your operations than ever before.
The right workflow management solution can literally save hours of staff time by implementing rule-based workflows that automate straightforward tasks like sending document changes or renaming files. It can also help optimize those workflows that are normally resource-intensive, like contract management, invoice processing and records management.
Taking this one step further Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be added to the workflows. Software robots can work alongside your human resources, completing the tasks that are mundane and error prone, saving even more time.
But when you consider that it is also a viable way to boost staff productivity and simplify process management across the board by way of reports on every step in every workflow, it’s easy to see why this type of tool has become invaluable to so many organisations.
At the end of the day, one must acknowledge that workflows are one of the many crucial elements of any successful, high-functioning business that is operating in the digital era. By using the best practices of workflow management and RPA, you’ll put yourself in a position to do more than just save time and cut costs through automation. You’ll also save resources and dramatically increase efficiency across all departments, which may very well be the most important benefit of all.