For most of us, being productive doesn’t come naturally. It is something we have to strive for, get into the habit of, and pursue consistently. So when the opportunity for a little assistance comes by, we’d be fools not to take it.

Man looking at his workflow management wall

A workflow management system may not be the snazziest of technologies, but if you’re looking to up the ante on productivity, increase efficiency, and improve business overall, then I’m afraid it is a necessary one.

From the beginning…

To help you grasp the idea of what a workflow management system can do, how it does it, and the potential it has to transform you into a model worker, you’ll need to know the workflow management definition.

Workflow is defined as the “orchestrated and repeatable pattern of business activity enabled by systematic organization of resources into processes that transforms material, provide services, or process information.” Workflow management is the discipline that coordinates all of that, and a workflow management system is software that automates it.

In other words, it is an application that supports the set-up, performance, and monitoring of a sequence of tasks — kind of like what Zenkit does for project-based work instead of day-to-day business procedures.

Different businesses have different types of workflows, but whatever your routine, using a workflow management system will allow business activity to be outlined and controlled, making it easier to forecast any potential issues. As we all know, daily operations seldom go uninterrupted, there are always delays, setbacks, and last minute changes. Having a clear overview of the workflow will help you react to challenges, and action things quicker. This type of organization will help you achieve peak efficiency with every task.

GIF of dog working on his workflow management
“Quick, fix the problem!”

What to look out for

The purpose of a workflow management system is to help your business achieve optimized results by streamlining the activity that goes on within your workplace. Just think about everything that’s involved in the day-to-day operation — the tasks, the roles, the processes, and the resources — imagine trying to keep on top of it all manually. While not impossible, a workflow management system does make it easier. Using the software can help to eliminate inefficiencies and foster productivity.

It is available in both desktop and web-based platforms, however, you will find that most businesses opt for the latter because not only can it be a more cost effective solution (you don’t have to worry about having to constantly update desktop applications), but to keep pace with competitors in this ever advancing digital market, it makes the most sense.

Here are other features your workflow management system should include so you keep up with (or exceed) competition:

  • Role-based access: Although a workflow management system can provide visibility for all users, it doesn’t necessarily mean they all should have it. This feature determines access to sensitive information, and the ability to assign, change, and update roles, and tasks to team administrators only.
  • User-friendly interface: Ensure the software you select is easy to navigate so that even the Luddites of your office will find it a breeze.
  • Workflow customization: Every organization has their own unique workflow. Whatever the pattern or sequence is, your system should provide the flexibility to cater to it.
  • Status visibility: Progress tracking and status updates notify participants how they’re proceeding with work individually, as well as the team as a whole. This kind of transparency also advises what steps need to be taken next.
  • Report generator: One of the most valued features, being able to generate reports, is a key performance indicator. It shows users how much of their duties are being fulfilled, and how well they’re accomplishing tasks.
  • Integration: A quality workflow management system will enable you to incorporate your software with other cloud-based services.

8 ways a workflow management system can boost productivity

Just because a workflow management system is implemented, it doesn’t mean you automatically become a master of productivity. As previously mentioned, being constructive doesn’t come out of thin air (for most of us), it is something that you have to take on board, and put into action.

Like what an editorial calendar is to a writer, and an online project management tool to a project manager, a workflow management system is simply a tool that, if used correctly and to its optimal potential, can result in effective perks. Said perks include:

  1. Digitizing your workflow management will allow you to identify, and remove any unnecessary steps and details, condensing your overall workflow.
  2. Ensuring work is done accordingly, and in a standardized way. The sequential nature of a workflow management system means that something cannot be actioned until the step before it is completed.
  3. No more paper chasing, which means gone are the days of misplaced paperwork, lost files, and waiting for your colleague to finish their part until you can start yours. This means your business can save time, as well as become environmentally conscious.
  4. The visibility that process management offers highlights where you’re up to with your work, allowing you to pick up where you left off.
  5. A clear overview also means that tasks will be allocated to the employee who has the best skill set, which increases the quality of work being produced.
  6. Accountability will improve as an audit trail of who has done what is available. This can also remove micromanaging as task responsibilities will be accounted for.
  7. Less human intervention reduces the chances of human error. Not only is this valuable in terms of cost and time, but it can improve the overall efficiency in tasks.
  8. Having your workflow management process automated means that operational tasks are organized, and that managers, as well as employees, can focus more on business strategy and development.
Homer Simpsons workflow management system

For those of you who are already using workflow management systems, and reaping the rewards, do let me know of any other ways that implementing an automated process management solution has benefited your productivity. Always great to hear different experiences!

Cheers,

Dinnie & the Zenkit Team