With summer behind us and fall beginning, we need to find a way to stay in shape as we go into hibernation. OK, admittedly, San Diego is not a place where one has to hide inside all winter long— but since we never achieved ‘optimum beach body shape’ maybe it’s time to start.
Whether it is going to the gym, running in the neighborhood, or taking a light swim in the Pacific, we know that achieving goals takes a great deal of work and focus. The Olympics are over, football season has started and we are awaiting the World Series. Perhaps we can apply some lessons that we have learned from great athletes though. Or from all manner of achievers; hearing a world-renowned pianist, or witnessing a middle schooler spell "scherenschnitte" to win the national spelling bee.
People want to do well, even when no one is watching, because, most of the time, they feel compelled to give their best. We say this because we see this kind of effort every day among our customers. This is not hyperbole, and clearly, our customers are not trying to imitate a dolphin for 200 meters. On the other hand, we witness some incredible efforts among people using Process Director to improve how their company operates. It is those people who directly contribute to saving money, making their organizations more efficient, and ultimately, defining a way to help people perform at their very best.
The best managers, directors and CIOs are those who have a deep understanding of their organizations and how technology impacts the work going on in each department. They have made it a priority to recognize both the potential impact and the limitations of how automating a process, the dependency around timelines and understanding how work flows within and outside of a department can support business goals. Many workflow experts see their job as dropping a system into an existing structure and letting it run its course. Process Director managers, however, recognize that workflow is not a "thing". It involves a series of steps and procedures and requires implementing a technology that causes changes in the company culture — and resulting behaviors.
BP Logix customers that put workflow into practice do so in the same way that a great competitor seeks to win it all. In the parlance of that mindset, we have broken down five actions that managers take in order to make workflow successful and achieve critical business and technology objectives:
- Get a workout plan: When thinking through potential organizational challenges, smart managers evaluate use cases and worst case scenarios, then consider how to avoid them. That gets ‘baked in’ to newer, better processes. While it sounds fairly simple, they enter into implementing these workflows as a series of dependencies that, by definition, have to adapt according to changing business needs. Even though business moves forwards, and the quarterly cadence is fairly regular, these managers are always questioning “what-ifs” and “how-tos”. That information provides them with a game plan for what to do and what NOT to do — and it usually serves as a roadmap to success.
- Cut out the fat: Efficiency in all its many forms is the goal, and eliminating inefficiency is a fundamental construct. “Good” workflow thinkers do not just superimpose workflow on top of their infrastructure. They find ways to cut out what is not working, eliminating existing bottlenecks and obstructions so that workflow can operate as efficiently as possible from the outset. Creating a better model provides workflow users with a better way to operate. It is also a more agile way to conduct business.
- Define goals: A blending of technology and business goals should result from a workflow solution, but users should not have to think too much about the technology that drives their usage. They should feel confident knowing that this new way of working can be adapted specifically to the goals they need to achieve. Goals will vary among groups, but an agile solution provides the foundation for realizing success.
- Get a coach: Well, maybe it is a team of coaches (and experts). Because organizations are filled with people that have different skill sets and whose input is important. It is critical that workflow tools managers get coaching and validation from the business owners who are (or, should be) benefit from this new system. That involves opening lines of communication, being receptive to criticism, and creating a feedback loop that enables for continuous change and innovation. Good coaches do not just tell people what to do; rather, they listen, evaluate, and provide usable feedback.
- Get out there and perform: All the planning in the world may make you really good at planning— but at some point, the button needs to be turned on and workflow needs to do its thing. Good managers will have prepared, adapted, sacrificed and taken the necessary steps to be able to step out into the limelight with confidence. Some employees may not like what you are doing, while others may find it stimulating. The key is to find the sweet spots where your solution meets and exceeds business needs so that the company works more efficiently and with greater purpose.
We applaud those who take the steps to define and execute on a smart workflow strategy. It is a road fraught with some thankless work often done in isolation; the ultimate results, however, can literally change lives. Anyone who can do that deserves a championship.