Workflows can benefit your business in many ways. They save you time and money by boosting efficiency and productivity while minimising human error. The outcome is empowered employees, superior results and happy customers.
Checklist: The top 10 elements you should consider when building and automating your business workflows:
- □ Choose your process
- □ Collaborate with team members
- □ List the required workflow tasks (and sub-tasks)
- □ Design your workflow
- □ Identify which tasks to automate
- □ Use the right workflow automation tools
- □ Build and test the automation
- □ Train your team (collaboratively!)
- □ Measure workflow efficiency
- □ Enhance your workflows
We’ve designed this checklist to help you create more effective workflows so you can reap the rewards of streamlining your business. Read on for more information for each phase of the checklist.
1. Choose your process
Before you begin with the fun stuff, you need to evaluate the manual workflows that you already have in place. This means listing out the processes for each division or department of your business and digging into the data.
The goal is to find out how you have been operating so far and identify where mistakes or missed opportunities might be occurring. Analyse every aspect and document every detail so you can make an informed decision about where to focus your energy. You can even rank your processes based on strategic importance to help make that choice easier.
2. Collaborate with team members
Once you’ve looked at the data, you must involve your team. You need to understand everyone’s role in the workflow and any specific task requirements. Importantly, you also want to identify bottlenecks early so you can design a better process.
One key part of this step is speaking to the process owner or leader about the history of the workflow and any changes that are required moving forward. Remember, always keep the “why” (or goal) of the process in mind during these conversations.
3. List the required workflow tasks (and sub-tasks)
Decide what event starts your process and when it is considered complete. For example, this could be a new customer order coming in via email. The end result? A product getting shipped from your warehouse. Think about the who, what, where, when and how of those parts of the process.
Next, list out each task in between, creating a new stage whenever someone different takes control. Make sure you include steps for customer, supplier or other third-party interactions.
When it comes to figuring out the nitty gritty with sub-tasks, you might find that these naturally come up during the next phase of the checklist.
4. Design your workflow
Once you know what tasks and sub-tasks are involved in your process, you need to identify the triggers that move things forward. Define when one task is completed and the process which moves the process on to the next phase. This is where things start to flow.
Now you should have a step-by-step guide and map of your selected process. Visualise it and share the diagram with your stakeholders. This is your workflow!
5. Identify which tasks to automate
If you want to build a case for the difference that automation will make to a particular process, there are a few key things to consider. It’s not a good idea to overhaul every manual workflow. After all, automating a bad process only makes it a bad process that runs quickly.
Good candidates for automation are generally complex processes that are used frequently but don’t change much each time. However, if you only do something once each year or the process is very simple, leaving it to run manually is often the best choice.
An extra tip? Think about whether the workflow incorporates a qualitative decision. Software relies on logic, not subjective judgement (so creative processes are often a no-go).
6. Use the right workflow automation tools
Choosing the right workflow automation software can be a challenge. Our advice? Make sure you invest in technology that makes everything feel effortless.
Besides workflow, task, time and document management, you also want software that is user-friendly, customisable and integrates easily with other apps. The best results come from pairing responsive technology with intuitive design and an interface that requires no specialist training or coding experience to operate.
Here at SwiftCase, we offer all of that and more, including team collaboration features alongside extensive reporting and workflow intelligence.
7. Build and test the automation
Now it’s time to set up your workflow using automation software. If you’ve chosen wisely, you should have the option to pick a template or use a drag and drop builder. Take the process map you created earlier, then identify your triggers and create a custom workflow that fits your exact requirements.
Next, run a mock test to check for errors. If you want to evaluate how it responds in a real workplace situation, consider using your new workflow in an upcoming project to see if it’s delivering your desired result. Does it get the job done? Remember, it’s not always essential to aim for perfection right away (more on that later!).
8. Train your team (collaboratively!)
Talking of processes, it’s essential to have one for training your team on how to use the software as part of their role. This might involve addressing any initial resistance because many people struggle with change. Clearly articulating the tangible benefits of automation can be incredibly helpful at this point.
Ensure everyone feels considered, included and their voices heard. You might want to give your staff regular time slots to share their experiences, wins and challenges. This is especially powerful in a group setting with a project leader who can update everyone on next steps in real-time.
9. Measure workflow efficiency
This is one of the most important steps on our list because efficiency is the key reason you decided to upgrade your workflows in the first place. Once your automation has been running for a while, it’s time to evaluate your workflow(s) and make adjustments where required.
Is this process better than before? Can we make a small tweak to achieve better outcomes? Review your workflows regularly because business, technology and the market evolve quickly.
Think about the bigger picture and remember, a diverse set of eyes may be able to discover enhancements that you have overlooked. Seek feedback from your team once they’ve got used to the automation and address any problems swiftly to encourage ongoing team commitment.
10. Enhance your workflows
Workflow automation software is powerful because it allows you to locate process inefficiency quickly, and remove hurdles to maximise resources (and results). Plus, if you’ve got the functionality, making changes to your workflow is as simple as drag and drop!
You’d be surprised by how the smallest adjustment can eliminate long processing times, continuous errors and backlogs of work while saving burned-out employees and keeping customers happy.
Keep a close eye on the value add of your workflows and address any bottlenecks as soon as you see them.
Power up your business with SwiftCase
SwiftCase is a cloud-based workflow management platform that enables you to automate a wide selection of tasks within your business, so you can:
- Improve efficiency by reducing overheads and preventing human error
- Increase productivity thanks to better knowledge sharing and employee engagement
- Maintain a consistently high standard of deliverables and customer care
SwiftCase is an ideal workflow management system for:
- Financial services
- Customer services
- IT services
- Facilities management
- Creative agencies
- Sales and service sectors
SwiftCase can be used to streamline any business:
- Select ready-to-use workflow templates that are purpose-built for customer support, task management, time management, invoicing, team collaboration and much more. There is a growing number of workflow templates available, meaning you can get up and running immediately.
- If you can’t find a template to fit a more customised workflow, then you can use SwiftCase’s drag and drop workflow builder. No coding and no tech background needed. Simply map out your workflow, identify your triggers and build a custom workflow to fit your exact requirements.
- Need to connect your workflows to other apps that you already use? No problem. SwiftCase is the only platform that can integrate any app using a REST-based API without a developer, making it easily accessible for a wide range of business integrations, for a completely joined-up customer experience.
You can securely automate all your important work processes using SwiftCase, making your business more efficient and your teams more productive. Our software empowers you with the tools to deliver what your clients need in an evolving, modern workplace.
Become a SwiftCase partner
Are you a consultancy or agency with multiple clients? Join our growing partner community, which has helped thousands of users to transform their business and delight their customers using the SwiftCase workflow management system.
SwiftCase partners have access to resources, live training and priority support channels. We are there for both you and your customers. Our success is built on your success, much like yours is on your clients.