Lately, Workflow Management has become a common buzzword. However, it is often not entirely clear what Workflow Management means. In simple words, it is about managing operating procedures.
Workflow Management is a component of Business Process Management (BPM) which differs primarily in its focus.
Differences between Workflow Management and Business Process Management
Workflow Management focuses primarily on effective workflows, their chronological sequence and smooth flow, whereas BPM focuses on a company's entire process landscape. It is about how individual workflows are related to each other, how they interact and how cross-company collaboration is structured.
Everything in flow
As mentioned, Workflow Management is about keeping «everything in the flow».
Envision yourself as a child, blocking or damming the flow of water in a stream in one place and clearing it in another. That's Workflow Management.
Well, how did you identify where you wanted to dam or clear the watercourse?
I'm sure you looked at the stream and memorized what it looked like, where it was, and how strong and free it was flowing. After that, you thought about how the stream should ideally flow and came up with a plan of it. Step by step, you began to control the water at different points. One step at a time, until you were satisfied with the result.
Draw a picture
As you have seen from the example with the stream, you must first understand the current situation regarding the workflows in your company. How and where does work flow through? Where does it flow quickly and smoothly? Where do obstacles need to be overcome? Which connections are important or optional to accomplish the goal?
This snapshot will help you and your employees gain a more profound understanding of your company as an ecosystem.
After this analysis, you now begin to outline the intended outcome. What should your workflows look like to be efficient, smooth and fast? Think about what processes you can change to increase employee satisfaction, leaving more energy and time for your core tasks.
Involve your employees and customers through an open dialogue – build trust. Let your teams come up with ideas and suggestions for improvement, with the goal of achieving a shared vision, an aspirational image. Let everyone know – as metaphorically as possible – what the vision looks like. As more detailed and better accepted the common vision is, the greater the motivation to put it into practice.
Design a plan
Things don't move when we're just dreaming. In reality, resources are usually limited. That is why it is important to set priorities.
Visualizations of the current and the target state quickly reveal where and how processes can or must be optimized within the company. Revealing insights are gained in relation to the nodes impacting most on the overall workflow and where you can rapidly achieve an improvement with just a few actions.
Experience has shown that it is best to focus on a few major improvements and to clearly define deadlines and responsibilities accordingly. In parallel, quick wins can be achieved by all participants dedicating some time to «free up a small piece of the stream». This prevents too many resources from being blocked at once, and results can be achieved more quickly.
Just do it
Now it depends on your commitment in your company. The shared vision and the first feelings of success from small improvements encourage your teams to participate actively. Through the experienced self-efficacy, employees in your company will be motivated to get more involved and will come up with more suggestions for ongoing improvements by themselves. It is rewarding to keep at it!
Who can help?
Would you like to know which tools you can use to massively simplify the documentation and visualization of your processes? Would you like to learn how to enrich your ideal image with more comprehensibility and transparency? And how you can optimize and even partially automate your entire process landscape in this way?
Get a non-binding consultation with our process experts and find out what works best for you.