In everything we do, there is a correct way to do it.
For example: Have you ever seen a professional steak chef in their kitchen?
If you’re not an experienced chef, this process involves several techniques, procedures, and rules that can not be overlooked, at the risk of eating hard, insipid or cold meat.
Typically, preparations include purchases at the right suppliers, use of appropriate utensils, quality beef and grills must meet certain specifications.
Everything starts a few days in advance, and some meats are prepared the day before, marinated, seasoned and handled in many different ways.
In the background, a chef goes through a process to prepare a good steak, a flow of tasks that needs to be followed closely to get it right.
Meaning: Yes, there is a workflow for barbecuing meat.
And if a workflow is so important when it comes to preparing meat on the grill, why wouldn’t it be for your business?
See in the sequence of pictures below a small part of this workflow:
What is workflow?
Have you ever stopped to wonder: why workflow is important to your organization?
Or what are its differences and possible advantages compared to a less structured way of organizing a business?
Let’s begin by recalling this concept.
Okay, you might be tired of hearing about workflow, but, what does this term mean exactly?
Workflow is an expression, which means what it says, the “flow of work”.
This term is used to name a set of tools or methods that serve to automate a company’s processes.
Thus, tasks, information, data and the activities performed by employees will follow an appropriate flow so that a business achieves its expected results.
For this, the use of technology is decisive, since, through software, process automation of the routine of its business will be much more efficient.
Check out more information: Sales Process Flowchart: Close More Business!
Workflow and Business Process Management (BPM)
If you’re on the cutting edge of technology innovations in the business environment, you’re familiar with the functionality and relevance of Business Process Management (BPM).
Also known by its abbreviation – BPM should be taken into account when it comes to workflow tools.
BPM, in fact, is a system with broader functions than workflow, since it not only models and redesigns processes, but also automates, providing a dashboard with real-time information on process performance.
Thus, under this focus of modeling, control, and monitoring, it pays to understand the workflow in relation to this broader context, as one of the functions of BPM.
Why is workflow important?
Now that you’ve got a little better understanding of what that term is, you’re probably wondering: why is workflow important to my business?
In order to arrive at some answers, it’s necessary to compare structural models of less organized companies and those that adopt workflow tools.
For this, we will check some points and benefits of the workflow.
1- Involvement of employees
Workflow in an organization that operates through a less organized structure is usually undefined, or only established through IT architecture.
That is, it is insufficient to maintain standards and allow their follow-up.
Already ingrained in companies that have the right tools, workflow represents a point that you can improve through the use of a software.
Using BPMN notation, for example, you can design and standardize workflows through the systems and business processes the employees within them define.
Which means, that in this way, you establish the necessary tasks through the involvement of the very people who will perform them.
2- Structure of the processes
In a more traditional company, you tend to observe more hierarchical and vertical based structures.
They base the division of tasks on the different departments, positions, and functions of each one of the employees.
But in practice, we know that it’s impossible for each area to function as an “island” – efficient integration between them is necessary.
And workflow tools should thoroughly consider this factor.
A company that adopts workflow tools aligns them with the business processes it carries out and to the activities and knowledge of the professionals involved.
In this way, teams will have their responsibilities established in advance, in the workflow process design.
Thus, it won’t be necessary for employees to “negotiate” who does what with teams from other sectors.
In fact, the parties involved will act more harmoniously, because everyone knows exactly what the business expects of them, as well as their colleagues.
Caution, though: the division of tasks between sectors and departments will not cease to exist with a well-structured workflow, nor will it lose its relevance.
The professionals will have their responsibilities aligned according to the completion of each process and with the resources available in the company, but not only within their own department.
With this, you also organize employees’ skills by taking into account the goals the business wants to achieve as a whole.
When structuring a company by highlighting the work that you need to do, it’s much easier to find a combination of the skills of the professionals and the workflow.
Activities can flow better, with greater efficiency and integration.
3- Establishment of responsibilities
How do you decide what each professional should do in your organization?
Within a traditional company, you usually define employee responsibilities in each process along the hierarchical layers of existing positions.
The vice president decides what the directors will do, the directors establish the duties of the supervisors, and so on.
This path continues to obey the vertical order of functions and positions.
It’s possible to see that this option usually involves a certain lack of efficiency. It’s also evident that there are unnecessary costs, generated by the excess of bureaucracy, immobility and slowness.
Therefore, it’s very important to “wipe out” some of these excessive steps, defining the functions of employees more efficiently in each workflow process.
Thus, with workflow tools, process owners can define the guidelines for designating the different responsibilities among the team. It’s one of the most important benefits of a workflow.
See another example: ITIL change management: employ best practices
4- Breaking barriers
In a less structured company, cases in which one department doesn’t share data and information to others are very frequent.
This failure can be very damaging and even disrupt the smooth running of the organization as a whole.
And this usually occurs due to managers failing to set limits. This can become one of the most common problems that hinder proper company performance.
Therefore, in order to be able to detect and meet customer needs, you must have access to as much information as possible. This information from inside the company will help you design the processes that add value.
Moreover, the processes will involve, besides different sectors of the company, external subjects such as partners, suppliers and other stakeholders.
And why is workflow important in this context?
Because some of its tools operate precisely through well-defined limits.
As a consequence, each person will know what they can (and should) share.
Your company processes will gain better results when it comes to meeting the needs of your market.
5- Share knowledge
As mentioned in the previous point, sharing necessary data can be truly decisive for any company.
In less automated models, the concentration of information in the hands of those employees with higher positions or who wish to retain power is very common.
This is a common mistake that can undermine the construction and execution of effective strategies.
When considering structuring the workflow of your company through tools, this is one of the factors that will undergo major changes.
Thus, the information will be properly documented and shared with those who need it.
There is much more transparency within the company and in its processes.
6- Measure performance
A very important step for every company is to be able to monitor and measure performance in every process.
Thus, in this way you can recognize correctness and detect faults that you need to improve.
In a model without workflow tools, organizations compile this data at f each department level, often by means of manually calibrated KPIs.
This, however, can be a time-consuming and very restricted alternative, unable to provide a broad view of the company’s results.
On the other hand, with some workflow tools such as BPM, for example, you can record and monitor, in real-time, company-wide performance.
You get an integrated view, incorporating the process as a whole.
This makes it possible to measure results in a much more complete and agile way.
7- Implement improvements
And after monitoring and measuring performance, it’s usually time to put into practice the detected improvement opportunities.
Poorly structured models segment this stage into several improvement projects aimed at solving isolated problems. They also use Quality concepts.
Conversely, BPM helps to implement changes in order to improve the process chain as a whole, in an uninterrupted way.
The ultimate goal is to ensure the best experience for your customers, through processes that always add value to the solution offered to them.
8- Enhancing the customer experience
In a more traditional organization, the way you deal with your customers is very much “inside out”.
That is, it offers the market the product or service you expect customers to buy.
This is a very old-fashioned strategy. Everyone understands the importance of companies shaping the desires and needs of their customers, not the other way round.
When using workflow and its tools, the most appropriate model for business survival is the “outside in”.
According to this, a company will organize to meet the demands of its market.
Thus, the organization will act in a way that meets the expectations of its customers, always seeking to generate the best possible experience for them.
The more traditional compliance models are often based on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
SOP is basically a document that provides instructions on proper operation, such as rules, sequences, procedure descriptions, etc.
It’s like a roadmap to ensure that you execute everything as planned and thus avoid possible deviations.
However, this is a very difficult option to create and still maintain.
But by using workflow tools you can rely on process mapping technology that meets the established compliance standards.
In addition to providing these rules, BPM systems, for example, can also add additional points of improvement to increase performance.
10- Creation of strategies
Why is workflow important for building strategies in a company?
Because through their tools, managers are able to understand the reality of their business and their processes more broadly.
So when integrating with a management system, workflow improvement tools are also able to help put strategies in place.
It creates a kind of circular relationship.
That is, while these tools help build more effective strategies, they also influence the achievement of expected results.
Why is workflow important?
It’s possible to realize that the so-called traditional models of organizational structures have become less and less efficient today.
In contrast, the answers to the question of “why workflow is important?” become increasingly evident.
If you want to improve your business performance and maintain good results, you need to adopt ways to automate processes and worry about creating more and more efficient workflows.
Want to understand more about how to create workflows with BPM?
Check out this video: