Most modern professionals, like yourself, have a major problem: there’s just not enough time in the day to accomplish everything that’s being asked of them. It can be overwhelming. So they turn to the latest and greatest productivity tricks, which help a little. But they still struggle to keep their heads above the water.
Sound familiar? You may need to invest in workflow management. By developing and optimizing workflows for standard business processes at your company, you’ll be able to save time, increase productivity, and reduce errors.
In this blog post, you’ll learn what workflow management is, four popular software tools that can help you manage your workflows more efficiently, and three workflow management tips you can begin implementing immediately.
What Is Workflow Management?
Workflow management, also known as business process management, is the act of optimizing the business processes that a company uses to successfully bring its product or service to market. This is done through proper planning and, oftentimes, the clever use of automation.
For example, let’s look at the marketing team’s typical content creation process at Company X:
- First, the marketing team holds a meeting every Monday morning to discuss the content that needs to be created that week. Each team member pitches ideas to the content marketing director who greenlights the ones that sound interesting to her.
- The company’s writers are then tasked with writing about the ideas they just pitched. They aren’t given specific due dates. Instead, they’re asked to complete the assignments “as soon as possible.”
- When each blog post is written, it’s sent to the editor. But because the team doesn’t keep to any kind of schedule or content calendar, the editor is often flooded with projects to look over and work gets backlogged.
- When a blog post finally makes it through the editing process, it’s sent to the design team. They create custom graphics to accompany each blog post and then send the final product (text and images) back to the writer.
- The writer then shows the project to the content marketing director, gets approval, and then publishes the blog post to Company X’s website.
Now, let’s say a workflow management expert was hired at Company X to search out any inefficiencies and to streamline each of Company X’s various business processes. The marketing team’s new content creation workflow might look something like this:
- First, an SEO specialist researches popular keywords in the company’s niche. From this information, blog post topics are then created.
- Second, the content marketing director creates a content calendar for the upcoming month and assigns multiple blog post topics to each writer on staff, with due dates.
- Next, the writers get to work writing the posts they’ve been assigned. When their first drafts are completed, the content is sent to the team’s editor.
- Once a post has been edited and finalized, it’s sent to the design team who create custom graphics to accompany the blog copy on Company X’s website.
- Finally, the finished text and images are uploaded to a digital database (CleanPix would work perfectly!) where the content marketing director can approve each post and publish them to the company’s website for the whole world to see.
Proper workflow management can be used to evaluate any kind of business process, find its inefficiencies (if there are any), and propose viable solutions. The end result is often increased productivity, reduced errors, and higher profitability.
The Top Workflow Management Softwares
A software solution isn’t always necessary in workflow management, but it tends to help. It will allow you to easily design, edit, and initiate various business processes. These are our picks for top workflow management software:
Pipefy is a highly customizable tool and perfect for companies with complex, in-depth workflows. Users get access to form templates, detailed reports and analytics, and integrations with over 500 other apps. Most small teams will do just fine with Pipefy’s free option. For larger teams or those who want upgraded features, plans start at $9 a month.
Kissflow is a popular workflow management software. It’s used by over 10,000 companies including Pepsi, Domino’s Pizza, and Michelin Tires. Here’s how it works:
- First, choose from over 50 apps and install the ones your workflow needs. Options include travel reimbursement, employee onboarding, and invoicing tools.
- Next, create custom forms using Kissflow’s easy-to-use drag and drop interface. Your forms can be made with pre-populated fields, tables, and more.
- Then you have the option of diagraming your workflow. Map the entire process out and complete it with deadlines, conditions, and triggers.
- Finally, initiate the workflow with one simple click. Once the process has been set into motion, approvals, input requests, and clarifications can be handled from any device.
All of Kissflow’s flexible options can be had for just $9 a month.
ProWorkflow is somewhat similar to Pipefy. It’s designed for small to medium-sized businesses, can accommodate complex processes, and is an easy tool to use for task, project, and workflow management. Users get access to detailed reports, Gantt-styled timelines, and team member timesheets — all for just $10 – $30 a month, depending on the features needed.
Bpm’online makes it easy to automate any internal process, be it a document approval or a complex team collaboration procedure. Workflows can be built from the ground up or made using a template from the “Process Library.” These are tried and true workflows that are built on industry best practices. Users also get access to other hard-hitting tools like process modeling and detailed reports. As for price, Bpm’online can be had for a monthly fee of $25.
3 Tips to Improve Your Workflow Management
Now that we know what workflow management is and a few software tools that can help you get it right, let’s discuss a few workflow management tips.
1. Stay Organized
Our first tip is all about organization. Whether you build and manage your workflows inside a software system (like one of the ones mentioned above), or you do everything analog, staying organized is key. Every aspect of your workflow should be easy to find and understand.
That means labeling each part of the process, eliminating unessential steps, and even keeping your workspace free of clutter. A messy desk can lead to lost paperwork, which will bring your workflow to a screeching halt and kill productivity.
2. Trust Your Team
You can’t do it all by yourself. You need to trust your team and allow them to do their work. In many situations, successful workflow management is dependent upon a leader’s ability to delegate. So give your team some freedom.
By delegating tasks to the appropriate team members, you’ll allow your workflows to truly flow. This will increase productivity, ensure you never have too much on your plate, and help your business run more efficiently than ever before.
3. Monitor and Optimize
Lastly, by definition, workflow management demands that your business processes be monitored and optimized. How else will you be able to improve them? Analyze each step in your workflow. Is there a way that it can be done better, more efficiently? If so, make the necessary changes.
Workflow management is an ongoing process. As new product requirements come about, as your company begins catering to a wider customer base, as new tools become available, there will be opportunities to improve your workflows.
Workflow management is an important business practice. By streamlining your company’s standard processes and rooting out inefficiencies, you’ll be able to become more productive and help your company become more profitable.
So get into the habit of staying organized, delegating tasks appropriately, and monitoring your workflows for improvement. If your company has the budget and you feel that a software solution would be beneficial, we recommend that you use one of the four mentioned above. Good luck!