The flow of internal processes is crucial to the growth of any company, no matter what the industry. How work flows is even more important to companies who have governing bodies to whom they must report and adhere to regulations. Whether your organization needs to report to regulatory bodies or not, business workflow software helps teams visualize the flow of tasks and who needs to complete what and when.
Tools like these reduce errors while streamlining the business and also decrease time spent on predictable, repetitive tasks. In fact, McKinsey says that up to 30% of time could be saved by automation. Time savings would come from less manual data entry, meetings, and chasing around information. Additionally, automated workflows that enforce compliance allow lower level staff to do higher level work freeing up management for decision making of greater impact. This type of tool has the power to keep everyone on the same page and improve the company’s efficiency as individual and team productivity is increased.
Any solution takes time and capital to deploy so you want to be certain you’re going with the right workflow software. Automation, real-time reporting, task forms, a task manager, and analytics are all important features for a tool to have if it is to improve your company’s workflow.
1. It should help you run on autopilot
Your company’s workflow should be seamless whether you’re an insurance provider underwriting, an internet provider deploying routers, or a healthcare provider needing to follow Medicare reimbursement protocol. The right tool should allow you to map all of your processes from the most simple to the most complex involving hundreds of people across multiple teams. It should meld with your current workflow such that you don’t need to make any drastic changes to how you do things and easy enough to use that it makes your workflow faster.
The tool you choose should allow you to define rules, assign actions to individuals, and set triggers based on individuals’ behaviors to receive pertinent notifications (this is how you avoid excess meetings and having to go track down information). Status updates and project handoffs will be second nature with the right tool.
An automatically flowing internal process keeps work from being forgotten and ensures everyone is on the same page. A human shouldn’t have to run a process when a machine can.
2. Real-time reporting is key
With so many processes to oversee and general dislike of micromanagement, real-time reporting is essential. An activity stream in workflow software provides overseers enough visibility to be comfortable with project progress by seeing which projects have approaching due dates and if things are on track to meet the deadline or risk becoming overdue. Managers benefit from custom real-time dashboards that include charts comparing data and analyze trends determining ROI, productivity, and profitability. A secure activity stream in your workflow software is even more important as proof of compliance for audits.
3. Forms complete process flow
Forms are a convenient way to capture data from platform users, teams, and other company stakeholders and are, consequently, frequently a part of complex processes. Given the frequency of use, it is essential that forms directly integrate with workflows.
A fully customizable form via a drag and drop form builder is an essential component of getting the right information and continuity of branding. Look for a tool that lets users order questions, choose the form’s appearance, and has the data fields you need. It’s an added bonus if supplementary information can be included on the form to assist people in filling it out.
4. Ability to assign and manage tasks
Time is of the essence. It is essential for your business workflow tool to plug participants into workflows by assigning individuals tasks with attached due dates and then being able to track the progress toward completion by that due date.
Creating queues of tasks for each individual, with email notifications related to each task stating when one has been assigned or is overdue, reduces risk of miscommunication and ensures everyone knows what the top priority is. A form of digital asset management in the workflow software is a good idea so that documents associated with the project or task can be easily accessed.
If a task has any recurring elements, it is easiest for managers if there can be automation rules around them so that time isn’t unnecessarily spent redundantly.
5. Dig into analytics
Complex workflows contain so much data. Everything from who is doing what and how long it takes to which parts of a project are creating bottlenecks. You should be able to view the number of tasks or projects being worked on and how long they have been active in a way that makes the most sense for your purposes at the moment. Do you want to know what is being done in a certain stage? Or in a project as a whole? In-depth knowledge from dashboards will allow you to optimize the processes.
There’s no doubt that your company is unique. What you have found to work for you may be entirely different than what has worked for another company. The workflow software that you choose should permit this individuality and allow you to work the way you want. A good workflow software will allow your projects to run on autopilot, leaving you with few questions on where projects stand because of real-time reporting. Being able to assign and manage tasks is a key feature of workflow management solutions. Real-time reporting is great, but if you can’t pit today’s stats against those of last week or last month, you really don’t know very much about your process making analytics key. Choose your workflow software solution with the respect it deserves.