Workflows are a series of steps or a process that needs to be completed to finish a goal. The steps could be linear or could contain complex branching. Managing workflows requires that the processes be set up accurately, efficiently, and repeat the same way each time to guarantee the same results.
Some common workflows include:
- Employee Onboarding
- New Client Setup
- Product Return Authorizations
- Documentation Requests
- Purchase Approval Requests
- IT Change Management
- Engineering Change Requests
- Compliance Audits
- Website Edits
These workflows may involve multiple individuals, teams, or departments that need visibility and accountability, as well as better organization, collaboration, and communication.
Let’s look at a couple of visual workflow examples:
Engineering Change Management
A proposal for change could come from multiple departments, but each must submit the proposal, which is then sent to a change control board for approval. If the change is feasible, then an implementation plan is developed. Once that’s completed, the Engineering Change Order outlines the steps for modification and revision of documentation. In the final step, the implemented change must be verified, and if there any problems, it goes back for a redesign and repeat of the approval and implementation process. If there are no problems, the system is returned to a production status and operations continue.
Human Resources Employee Onboarding
When a new employee is hired, the HR, Facilities, and IT departments all have their own processes that have to occur in tandem with each other. IT has to set up computers, phones, and appropriate software and network access. Facilities needs to set up a workspace and grant any building access needed. HR needs to have paperwork related to the employees insurance, tax needs, and payroll information. Most of that needs to be completed either before the employee arrives or during their first-day orientation.
Built Your Way
Each workflow you develop can be as complex or as simple as you need. It all depends on the requirements of your process. The important thing is to understand your processes and all the potential branches and loops that your workflow may take and to document it so that you can accurately repeat the process whenever necessary.