How to Build Successful Workflows

How to Build Successful Workflows

How to Build Successful Workflows

You’ve heard that automating your workflows will give you all sorts of productivity and visibility gains. You’ve decided on your workflow platform and you’re ready to go. But then you ask yourself:
“How do I actually build a decent workflow?”

Many people believe that workflows are designed to tie together systems.

They send emails for you automatically. They trigger a purchase order to be raised. They flag an issue.

However, this leaves out a key part of the equation. The people.

Building successful workflows is all about the people element.

For your workflow to be considered “successful”, ask yourself:

A) Does this improve the employee or customer experience?

B) Does this increase company productivity?

It is easy to focus on one of these over the other.

You can build the most efficient workflow possible. But if your employees get frustrated using it, they will find ways around it.

So how do you keep the people element in mind when building your workflow?

Here are 6 tips that may help:

Make it easy to follow

Design your workflow for those who are using it. Not for those who are building it.

Your workflow should read more like a process, not a system map.

Label steps clearly and in a way that makes sense to anyone.

Include instruction fields where helpful. This prompts people on what they need to do.

Avoid acronyms and jargon.

The idea here is that everyone from your CEO to your new intern should be able to understand at a glance who is responsible and what is required of them.

Serve up the right information at the right time

Searching for information is one of the biggest time wasters in the workplace.

Depending on which study you want to reference, the average employee spends anywhere in the range of 4.5 to 9 hours a week searching for information.

How can your workflow give your employees back all these wasted hours?

It serves up the right information when they need it.

Think of things like:

  • Having your Working from Home policy available as a downloadable attachment in the Working from Home application.
  • Saving a “Welcome to XYZ” email template in your Sales Handover workflow.
  • Serving up relevant contracts and paperwork within a workflow, rather than saved in some obscure SharePoint folder.

Think about your audience

Will your HR team be using the workflow? Or will it be your factory staff?

Will they be at a desk? Or on the factory floor?

Your audience will define what makes a good workflow.

What output are you looking to achieve? Work backwards from there.

Maybe the output you’re looking for is that your factory staff consistently log incident reports. Make it easier for them by using dropdown options and image uploads rather than asking them to write an essay.

Potentially you want to increase the quality and consistency of your employee onboardings. Submission speed and screen size is not as much a factor here. Instead, give your team everything they need in one place, from tax forms to H&S induction records.

Equally, if you want to speed up your CAPEX sign-offs, make sure your Executive team can sign-off on the go. Phone notifications with one-touch approval may be best here.

Your audience will define what makes a good workflow.

What output are you looking to achieve? Work backwards from there.

Utilize automated reminders and deadlines

As people we’re inherently forgetful. Even more so when we’re under the pump.

Lean on your workflow system to do the remembering for you.

Adding deadlines and reminders to each step of a workflow gives your employees a clear To Do list to follow.

Automating these reminders means that you should never have to push the process. It should roll right along without any intervention.

Added bonus: Adding deadlines to a step in Flowingly will allow you to run reports on your SLAs. Even if it’s not a critical action, adding deadlines to all steps will make it easier to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies within your processes.

Ditch the documentation

If your staff need to read an instruction manual on how to submit a request, then you’re in trouble.

Big trouble.

They’ll end up emailing the CFO direct rather than applying through your overly confusing CAPEX form.

Ditch the documentation and design an experience that makes life easier for your employees.

Label fields in a way that makes sense to the end-user.

Include instructions and rich content such as videos or templates to guide them.

Add a “Help” email address to your more complex forms. Or if your workflow system has it (as Flowingly does), prompt users to leave any troubleshooting questions in the comments.

Future-proof your workflows

Workflow admins change. Whether your Business Analyst, HR Manager or CIO is building your workflows, chances are they will move on at some point.

The last thing you need is for your workflows to fall over as soon as they leave.

It might seem crazy, but we’ve heard companies say they had to rebuild a workflow because they had no idea how it was built in the first place.

That’s one of the benefits of a no-code system. You don’t have to decipher lines of code to uncover how the workflow works.

The most important thing? The people.

There’s a famous Maori proverb here in New Zealand.

He aha te mea nui o te Ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.

What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.

When improving your processes and workflows, start with the people.

Think of their experience. What would make their job easier? What information do they need to complete their tasks? What would remove frustrations from their day-to-day?

Do this, and the productivity will come with it.

Want to find out how Flowingly puts the employee experience first? Get a demo today.

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How to Foster Continuous Improvement

How to Foster Continuous Improvement

How to Foster Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement identifies opportunities to reduce waste and streamline work. Broadly speaking, it finds opportunities to execute processes more effectively and get more from less. Although this approach originated in manufacturing, continuous improvement is an essential element to countless successful companies across every conceivable vertical.

For many, there’s little doubt that fostering continuous improvement can drive sustainable, long-term results. The bigger question is often whether it be introduced effectively across all levels of their organization.

How individual staff can foster continuous Improvement

As individuals within an organization, staff can encourage and support continuous improvement while also enjoying its benefits. As individuals within an organization, staff can encourage and support continuous improvement while also enjoying its benefits.
The Kaizen process is the almost synonymous methodology for this. The term itself translates to “continuous improvement” in Japanese.
Popularised by Toyota, Kaizen focuses on making small, frequent improvements to existing processes, and from any level of an organization. Kaizen challenges stubborn “how we’ve always done things” attitudes typically found in well-established organizations.  By way of making micro-changes, Kaizen eliminates waste and silos. It aims for standardised processes in:

Quality of products, business processes and following best practices 

  • Cost of resources
  • Delivery time and non-value-added activities
  • Management of attitudes, training, flow and documentation
  • Safe working conditions

Individuals can implement the Kaizen philosophy by:

  • Using flowcharts or value stream maps to visualize current processes and identify areas of improvement.
  • Questioning the status quo in order to make meaningful changes to processes.
  • Dropping the pursuit of perfection – no methodology can ever create perfect systems or processes, but they can continuously improve conditions.
  • Celebrating your successes and those of your team members in small ways to keep everyone invested and engaged.
  • Setting aside time for team collaboration on improvement projects.

How leadership can foster continuous Process Improvement through systems & culture

Leadership have an equally important role to play as front-line staff. They can often contribute large amounts through creating a change culture.

This can be done by:

  • Empowering everyone to make small changes in their own processes. Small ideas can lead to big changes.
  • Creating an environment where employees feel free to address problems and pitch ideas. If the idea doesn’t work out, it should be iterated and improved instead of dismissed as a failure.
  • Holding continuous improvement events, providing team members with tasks to action to help new processes take hold within the organization.
While Kaizen can be highly applicable on a company-wide scale, Total Quality Management (TQM) is a methodology that leaders may wish to utilize or borrow from. Gaining popularity in the late 1980’s after the US Federal Government implemented it, TQM strives for customer satisfaction.

Organizations using TQM typically adhere to the following principles: 

  • A strategic and systematic approach should be followed.
  • Customers determine the quality level.
  • Employees are to work towards common goals with effective communication and training ensuring consistent quality.
  • Organizations should define the steps that are required in any process and monitor performance, continuously looking for ways to compete.
Diagrams are readily embraced by TQM companies, including Ishikawa diagrams, flowcharts and check sheets.

Aside from these systemic efforts, company leaders also need to make changes to culture to support continuous improvement by: 

  • Recognizing and rewarding continuous improvement successes, such as with raises, promotions, bonuses or even recognition.
  • Becoming a courageous change leader by supporting constructive disruption.
  • Leading by example, such as by being receptive to feedback or conducting regular self-assessments with vulnerability.
  • Thinking of ways to develop your employees, not just your product or service.
  • Hiring with diversity in mind in order to benefit from a broad spectrum of perspectives and ideas.

How individual staff and leadership can work together to foster continuous process improvement

A culture of continuous process improvement can only thrive if individual staff and leadership work together.

Continuous improvement should be integrated into all aspects of the business. For example it can be included in internal communication, KPIs, personal development programs and job descriptions.

A shared vision needs to be emphasised through these everyday activities, reiterating the need to strive towards a common goal.

A suggestion process should be developed so that ideas can be easily gathered and evaluated. This also includes developing a clear system to follow instead of allowing individuals to implement changes at will.

Collaboration on continuous process improvement needs to be done through empowerment, involvement and suggestions, not directions or orders.

Continuous process improvement methodologies like Kaizen and TQM can help individuals improve their own approach to work by eliminating waste, while allowing organizations to optimise involvement from people at every level.

As well as improving production and costs, continuous process improvement improves morale and satisfaction, leading to better outcomes and retention.

Small changes can make an enormous difference, with a thriving continuous improvement process setting you up for sustainable success.

This is an excerpt from Flowingly’s process guide, Creating a Culture of Process Improvement.

Take your processes to new heights with our process playbooks.

Discover the building blocks of process improvement.

Apply for Leave

Apply for Leave

Apply for Leave

Leave requests are one of the most common processes within an organization. For this reason, they are a great place to start with process improvement. Even small improvements here can save the business thousands of hours a year.

1. Submit Request Initiator
The trigger for starting this process is the employee initiating the request. You will want to capture all the required information about the request at this step, eliminating any back-and-forth later in the process. Consider things like:
  • Type of leave (annual, sick etc.)
  • Dates requested
  • Whether leave in advance is required
  • Whether they will be contactable
2. Check Employee Leave Balance Payroll
Upon submission of the request, the Payroll team will provide the first approval. This is simply to check whether the Initiator has enough leave accrued. This should be a basic Approval or Rejection.

If “leave in advance” was requested, Payroll can approve the request and leave a comment for the Initiator’s Manager to see in the next step.

2. Check Employee Leave Balance Payroll
Upon submission of the request, the Payroll team will provide the first approval. This is simply to check whether the Initiator has enough leave accrued. This should be a basic Approval or Rejection.

If “leave in advance” was requested, Payroll can approve the request and leave a comment for the Initiator’s Manager to see in the next step.

3. Check Team Calendar for Clashes Initiator’s Manager
The next step in the process is the for the Initiator’s Manager to check for any calendar clashes within their team and either approve or reject the request based on this. Depending on your organization size and structure, you may find that you have no difficulty covering a staff member’s absence, or that you need to arrange cover during this time. These are things for the manager to consider at this step.
4. Approval Email Notification
Once the leave has been approved or rejected, an automated email can be sent to the initiator to inform them of the outcome.
4. Approval Email Notification
Once the leave has been approved or rejected, an automated email can be sent to the initiator to inform them of the outcome.
5. Update Payroll Records Payroll
The final step of the process sits with the Payroll team. This is just a reminder for them to confirm that the leave has been recorded in their payroll system and that any shared leave calendars have been updated. One of the key benefits of managing this through a workflow platform is that you can ensure this process is not marked as complete until all required steps are done.  

This is an excerpt from Flowingly’s process guide, Essential Processes for Human Resources.

Proven Processes to Streamline Your HR Journey.

Unlock the power of process and workflow improvement in HR!

Release Notes – 2020 R1

Release Notes – 2020 R1

Release Notes – 2020 R1

Our first release of 2020 introduces Flow Model version tracking, print-friendly Flows, and improved process map visibility. 

Have a look at the highlights of this release: 

Flow Model Versions

We’ve added the ability to view the Flow Model version number from when a Flow was started. You can also export specific Flow Model versions.

This is useful if you update a Flow model and users have already initiated it.

Flow Model version is displayed in:

  • The first Step of new flows 
  • A new column added to Report page 
  • A new column added to CSV report

Printer-Friendly Flows

We’ve improved the export Flow functionality and allow user to save it in a more printer friendly format. 

The new document now includes a comment section which will include all comments added by workflow users while the flow was in progress.

A common use-case is to include comments made on an expense request process, printed for archival purposes.

Process Map Visibility 

Flowingly Workflow Users can now open and review Process Maps from within Flowingly’s Runner.

Clicking on a Process Map from the Maps page will direct Flowingly users to a new page displaying the selected Process Map instead of opening the Flowingly Modeler.

This is especially useful for organizations using Flowingly as a repository for Process Maps. Staff can easily view relevant process maps without opening the Flowingly Modeler.

Additional Improvements

  • Short text customization
  • Customizable subject placeholder text
  • Introduced last updated date column in Library
  • Added scroll bar to form designer
  • Option list fields and Approval options now are deselectable
  • Small tweaks and bug fixes
If you’d like to learn more about how Flowingly can help you on your process improvement journey, get a demo today!

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Request Access to Applications

Request Access to Applications

Request Access to Applications

Many companies run this process informally, often using email. This approach can work with 10 employees in the same office. But what about when you have 100 employees? What if they start working remotely? As soon as your business progresses past being able to swivel your chair to talk to the admin of the application, you need to develop a proper request process.

1. Select the Required Applications Initiator
It’s common for remote employees to suddenly find that they no longer have access to something they regularly used in the office. Luckily, in the age of cloud-based applications, accessing software from anywhere is easier than ever. The first step of this process is for the employee to highlight what they need access too. Bonus tip: this step also works really well when onboarding a new employee, you’d just have it as a step for their manager. 
2. Set Up XYZ Accounts Various
When companies run this process informally using email, things get missed By having a full list of services in a single place, life is made far more simple for the employee and the IT team supporting them. The great thing about using workflow software to process these requests is that it directs the request down the right channel instantly. No more “Hey Sam, do you know who the admin for Slack is?” 
3. Login and Go! Initiator
The final step of this simple process is for the employee to check that your logins all work. Have them mark off that they’re all logged in and ready to go.  

This is an excerpt from Flowingly’s latest process guide, Essential Processes for Remote Work.

Proven processes to help you manage a remote workforce.

Discover the building blocks for constructing a strong remote culture.