You Can Develop a Foundation for Workflow (Before You Implement It)

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In our technology-obsessed economy, business managers trying to find business process management (BPM) solutions to the problems they are facing often turn to software. In the eyes of many, anything that can be downloaded, accessed via the cloud, or available on a smart phones represents a potential problem-solver. And while technology can bring about major improvements regarding how we work, there’s a lot more to changing the way that the organization works than downloading bits.

One of the biggest predictors of success is preparedness and readiness to prepare for change. For our customers, success is a result of the benefits of the workflow they have initiated — workflows that automate, streamline and tie together what can sometimes be disparate parts of a process. We have learned that to have a realistic framework for that workflow, an organization must first recognize that it is ready. This means requirements gathering, internal education (or training) and “process change” to facilitate the transition to a workflow-friendly environment.

Recognition is an important first step; from there employees can factor in specific information about what needs to be solved, who needs to be involved, and the requirements that will lead to a successful outcome. These are the factors that play a key role in ultimately solving issues! In the preliminary stages of your workflow solution search, however, they provide a framework that helps participants truly understand the role they play in improving business operations.

Workflow doesn’t just happen. You can’t ‘announce’ a workflow launch one day and expect your processes to become wildly efficient the next. For workflow to have an impact on an organization, the team responsible for implementation needs to have considered where it will be used, how it will be used, and whom it will benefit. This is the defining moment for the workflow mindset.

The concept of workflow can, and should, enter the minds of your team before it is implemented. This gives them time to prepare, anticipate and create an optimal environment for the launch. Your internal workflow champion should advise those involved to begin building requirements around these questions.

– Do my processes need to only work internally, or should they be available to third-parties in our ecosystem?

– Can my workflow be improved by HOW it will be accessed? What impact do I anticipate from mobile, social and other types of digital interaction?

– Is our organization looking at short-term, repeatable processes only? Is this limiting my ability to achieve better results from workflow?

– Are there documents and data sources that, if included in my workflow, could make it more valuable?

– What level of interaction do I want my team to have? (For example, do you want participants to have the ability to make changes to the workflow or should this be the domain of experts only?)

– Could my workflow be more valuable if it provided data analysis and metrics?

The answers to these questions will determine how to move forward to adopt the right workflow for your needs. Simply asking these questions will help those who work on your processes to think through the fundamental aspects of how they can begin to make changes in thinking and work habits— changes that can ultimately help to identify the best workflow tool and to deploy it in the most effective way possible.