Your business has workflows whether you realize it or not. Workflows are how business gets done, and they can be smart and logical, or they can be haphazard and inefficient. Think about how your product or service is delivered and all the steps leading up to that. Do those steps take place as if in a well-oiled machine? Or do they more closely resemble chaos?
Badly designed or managed workflows slow productivity cost money, and reduce revenues. Well-designed and well-managed workflows move your team toward optimum productivity, help you save money, and increase revenues. In a competitive marketplace, good workflows are essential for success. Great workflows streamline steps that go into work processes by getting rid of unnecessary tasks, automating tasks (or parts of tasks), and improving documentation and accountability.
Hazards of Poorly Managed Workflows
When workflows develop without forethought, or as the result of always being in reactive mode, they tend not to be efficient or well-managed. When your workflows aren’t well-managed, your business faces many problems:
• Lost, misplaced, or damaged documents related to workflows
• People forgetting or not being aware of their role in a process
• Time wasted tracking down where something went wrong
• Panic if the company should be audited for regulation compliance
The Basics of What Workflow Software Does
Workflow software makes you think about the specific steps that go into a work process, define them, define who is responsible for them, visualize the connections between them, and arrange them so they make sense. Workflow software can also be terrific for discovering where you can make improvements. By mapping out workflows with workflow software, it’s easier to see which steps are unnecessary, and which might be automated. It’s easier to see where a paper process could be replaced by an electronic process. And it’s easier to know when to gather important data that can be used for reporting and to document your actions in the event of an audit.
Improved Efficiency from Workflow Software
In some cases, the act of mapping out workflows using workflow software can make inefficiencies visible and prompt you to make positive changes. In other cases, you may realize that a manual process could be automated, saving time not only during that process but in subsequent processes that depend on it. Workflow software with built-in custom reporting tools helps your business fulfill reporting requirements efficiently and more accurately than if you created reports manually. And you can use workflow software to generate automatic alerts at key points in processes so stakeholders know when their input is needed.
Better Compliance with Regulations and Audits
When you design your workflows so they collect important data along the way, and then organize that data logically whenever the workflow is completed, you can be much better prepared if your business should undergo an audit. Whether you’re a healthcare provider facing a Medicare audit, a financial services company that must prove compliance with laws like Sarbanes-Oxley, or are facing a software license audit from one of your software providers, data collected, organized, and reported by your workflow software backs up your statements and is appreciated by auditors.
Better Customer Service
Ultimately, better workflows result in happier customers. Haphazard workflows, manual workflows that could be automated, and paper processes that could be made electronic not only speed up production, they cut down on mistakes, so customers are less likely to receive products and services late, and are more likely to receive exactly what they asked for, on time. Today’s marketplace is extremely competitive, and there’s no time for mistakes due to clunky workflows, inaccurate data, and manual, error-prone processes. And you can bet your strongest competitors make it a point to optimize workflows using workflow software.
Workflow software is capable of mapping, designing, gathering data on, and improving the processes that make your business work. It doesn’t matter if you are in the business of heavy machinery manufacture or financial consulting: great workflows contribute to your success. The right workflow software helps you replace inefficient workflows with better ones and helps you fine-tune good workflows to turn them into excellent workflows.
ProcessMaker is a leading open-source workflow software that comes with extensive built-in tools. And since it’s open-source, it can be further customized so that it’s tailored to your business’ particular needs. We invite you to try out the ProcessMaker Enterprise Edition for free or download the Community Edition of ProcessMaker. Experience how great workflow software starts making your business better from day one.