In every business, there’s no denying the fact that the most important assets are not top-of-the-line equipment, substantial financial bottom line, patented technology, and such, but personnel. As obvious and boring as it may sound, equipment, technology and your liquid assets are useless without a strong workforce to take care of them.
Such being the case, any discerning entrepreneur should recognize that providing the right tools to allow his people to efficiently perform their jobs is important to keep them motivated. Investing in workflow management software is one key thing to consider.
Features of a Good Workflow Management Solution
Tasks that follow a sequence and done repetitively to achieve a goal constitute a workflow. And with the influx of modern-day tools to automate workflows, there’s no shortage of workflow management software to choose from. That said, when searching for the most fitting workflow solution for your company’s specific needs, it pays to keep the following pointers in mind:
# 1. Visibility
Formula One champion Alain Prost once said, “You had no control. You had no visibility. Maybe there was a car in front of you, maybe not.”
It’s no secret that if individual tasks are received via e-mail, there’s always the possibility of a mix-up – meaning, the correct tasks may not be forwarded to the right individuals or the wrong tasks may be sent out to the right people.
And if a certain individual fails to receive his assigned tasks on time, delays and other unsavory repercussions can come as a result.
Deploying the right workflow management application across the enterprise ensures that everyone involved get their assignments on schedule. Individual next-step tasks are provided as well, keeping your people informed every step of the way.
On the management side of things, the coordinator or business owner knows whether everything is going as planned, on budget and on schedule.
# 2. Teamwork and collaboration
There’s a reason why visibility is the number one characteristic of a good workflow software.
- Visibility encourages collaboration among teams.
- Visibility affords project leaders and team members the chance to anticipate workflow flaws and correct them as needed.
As for team collaboration, let’s take the case of common HR functions as an example. Tasks include hiring and on-boarding new employees, tracking sick/vacation leaves, assessing employee performance metrics and comparing them against their individual goals, and so on. As you can probably imagine, most of these are repetitive tasks that can be simplified using a human resources solution.
If people involved know the real-time status of the tasks they’re working on, confusion and workplace chaos are greatly reduced, if not eliminated. They know who to go to for specific tasks and clarifications. They know who to seek out for reinforcements, and such. Expectations, therefore, are met, if not exceeded.
# 3. Real-time control and flexibility
In workflow management, visibility results in real-time control. A workflow may be well thought-out and skillfully orchestrated, but there’s always the chance that, somewhere along the way, it needs to be tweaked to meet end-result requirements. It could also be that a loophole had not been anticipated while the workflow was being formulated and it’s now causing problems.
A good workflow management software should be flexible enough to provide ample room for on-the-fly alterations whenever the need calls for them.
# 4. Third-party software integration
It’s normal for some businesses that even before they discover the existence of workflow management software, they already have solutions like Microsoft Outlook or CRM software in place.
In the event you decide that a workflow management solution is necessary to augment your existing technology inefficiencies, the best workflow management software should support third-party software integration through APIs (application programming interfaces). This way, you don’t have to consider ditching the tools you still find useful.
# 5. Mobility
There’s no denying that mobile phones and other smart devices are now ruling the technology space. Statistics show that a lot of people are conducting business online via their phones more than their desktops or laptops.
Having a workflow management system that supports browser-based functionality can spell a huge difference, especially for managers who are always on the go. With a workflow management solution that’s mobile, they retain visibility and control of their workflows wherever they are.
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