Creating Your First Workflow on an Automation Platform
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
By Siddharth Wadehra, QuickReach Head of Research
Workflows are the heartbeat of any automation suite. As technology creeps into the modern workplace, workflow automation is becoming the new normal. Companies across industries are leveraging the power of workflow automation to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. In fact, a study suggests that small and medium enterprises are expected to adopt business workflow automation on a large scale, creating a market opportunity of more than USD 1600 million between 2017 to 2026.
Creating a workflow would allow your organization to seamlessly harness the power of digital workflow automation, but how does one go about it? The article explores what exactly are workflows and how do you go about creating your first digital workflow.
So, what is a workflow and why is it important?
Workflows are the collection of fixed tasks or sequences which are performed to accomplish a business process according to a set of pre-defined rules. Typically, a workflow is aimed at automating a part of or the entire business process by ensuring that the information progresses from one stakeholder to the next without any obstacle. As the key component of any automation suite, workflows streamline tangled up business processes, improve efficiency and transparency, eliminate redundant tasks, improve stakeholder collaboration, and offer more actionable business insights.
Thus, it's extremely important to get your workflows right. The following are the steps involved in designing your first workflow.
Let's dig into the steps and see how important each part is in creating your workflow.
1. Identifying resources
If you are looking to replicate the existing workflows in your company, you can start by exploring how they are presently being handled. Are they still paper-based, or on Google docs, or perhaps over emails? At what points exactly do the approvals come in? While these would be the first set of resources you need to identify, another set would be the various stakeholders involved.
The best place to start would be to speak to the process owner and identify the pain points and bottlenecks in the existing processes.
2. Outlining your wish list
Once you get a fair idea of the pain points and challenges in the existing processes, it is important to outline the desired state that you wish to achieve through workflow automation. It should be noted that you must ideally have a detailed understanding of the task structure and the data exchanged among various stakeholders involved in the steps of the tasks before you design the outlined workflow.
An example would be a pending PO for a supplier. For this, the system would need to fetch the data from a database, compile it and pass it to the manager for approval who needs to view the consolidated sheet for approval. The desired state here would be the forwarding of approved POs to the finance team for processing, and the sending back of rejected claims to the supplier with specified reasons.
3. Accountability for each step and role assignment
Once you get a grasp of the nature of the tasks, take a look at the people assigned to do it. Explore whether there are any tasks that potentially could be automated and may be completely done without human intervention.
While assigning accountability for each step, ensure that all stakeholders, the tasks and the information in the flow moves swiftly. Keep in mind that while a majority of tasks might move automatically to the next step, there would be some tasks that might need approval or review before moving to the next step.
4. Create workflow diagrams to visualize the process
Now that you have accomplished all of this, you can start creating your workflow diagram. This would not only allow you to get a more comprehensive grasp of the desired optimal state of the process, but also provide you with a draft of the visual representation of the workflow. You can use any workflow management tool which will allow you to use easy drag-and-drop visual tools.
Once you have created the workflow, this will form the basis for iterations, revisions, and potential improvements.
5. Testing the created workflow
Understandably, you cannot move to deploy the workflow without initially testing it. There might be a temptation to go directly for implementation. However, it’s only when you perform rigorous tests that you understand the potential flaws in the first draft. The best way to go about performing the suitability of your workflow is to actively involve the people who are involved in it. They would help you identify problems in the workflow that can be resolved. Collecting their feedback would be a fool-proof way to ensure the suitability of the designed workflow.
6. Train the team on the new workflow
Once all the issues have been ironed out and before you could proceed to deploy the workflow, it would be ideal to inform the various stakeholders who will be a part of the workflow of what is expected from them. Employees usually are hesitant to let go of their existing processes which they have been used to for a long period of time; hence, training will get them acclimatized with the expectations moving forward. Not only will the training program help eliminate this hesitation but it will also give them confidence in implementing their part in the workflow.
7. Deploying the workflow
Once the training and testing have been completed, the workflow is now ready to be deployed. It would be ideal if you release the proposed workflow initially within a small team to test how it's working in real-time. Depending on the initial results and feedback from stakeholders of the deployment, you can either share it with the entire organization or withdraw the workflow for further edits. Understandably, with any policy changes or additional requirements, there could be a new version that could be rolled out.
Design your first workflow using QuickReach
The process of creating and implementing a workflow online might initially seem daunting. But with an automation platform like QuickReach, even the non-technical users can easily automate and implement tedious workflows. Now that you know the steps to designing a workflow on an automation platform, it’s time to start creating one, be it for your sales, finance, HR, office admin, or IT processes. You can even enable customer self-service as well no matter what industry you're in!