March 2nd, 2017 • workflow
Curtis inherited a HR team that was…let’s say, less than organized. Onboarding was taking weeks to finish, candidate resumes were piling up in a corner, and trainings were perpetually delayed.
Curtis is a process guy through and through, and he was anxious to set up some automated workflows he had used in his previous position. He scoped out a few options and found a workflow software he thought matched his needs well. He spent a week setting up all the workflows his team would need to run like a well-oiled machine.
However, two months later, he starts to realize the problem goes much deeper than he thought. He gets an email from Tom in Marketing who is sure that Martha has some side gig going on, and he wants to withhold her payments immediately and quickly change the leave policies. Later that day, he gets a paper resignation letter from Danielle in the consulting team who desperately needs to expedite her resignation process so that she can take up a brand new offer from an NGO in Spain.
Meanwhile, the onboarding still isn’t happening, the resume stacks are getting taller, and Curtis is wondering if he just needs to accept the madness all around him.
An automated business workflow system can only optimize processes that are already efficient. Companies that have their workflows scattered all over the place, or are using workarounds to get the work done, should first focus on streamlining the existing processes.
Simply adding automation won’t solve the problems Curtis is facing. Here are some ways Curtis can address the root of the problem rather than just the symptoms:
Workflow platforms come in all shapes and sizes, and in varying complexities. Curtis had done a deep dive in looking for workflow solutions and chose the one he was comfortable with from his previous position. However, that particular workflow process platform had a pretty steep learning curve that Curtis probably doesn’t remember very well.
Curtis would be better off choosing a workflow product that others can intuitively use as well. When the rest of the team doesn’t understand how to edit forms and workflows, they avoid using the platform because it seems too complex.
A number of cloud-based apps today come with extremely easy interface and great features that let their users visualize their process in real-world, applicable terms, instead of complex nodes and annotations.
No matter how intuitive the software, employees will always find loopholes or workarounds to skip the defined processes. In this story, Tom and Danielle used email and paper respectively to trigger a workflow despite having a standard system in place.
These types of ‘exceptional’ requests are actually quite normal. As a workflow admin, Curtis must put his foot down against accepting such workarounds especially if the requests are recurring and serious in nature. The CEO may need to have a look at why Danielle is in a hurry to quit, or wants to offer her a deal. Martha’s case is even more sensitive because she might be summoned for a warning or a disciplinary action after her case is reviewed.
The process owner should identify the reasons why people are using workarounds and try to coax them into using the specified process.
One reason people don’t like using an automated workflow is that the initial form is too complicated. Some workflow process designers are quite rigid and offer a very poor user experience.
Even with an agile, cloud BPM tool with a great drag-and-drop form interface, you may want to look at how to make your forms even simpler. It’s easy to get carried away in designing a form that checks all the boxes when you have a simple interface to play around with, but you should do a final audit to check that your form is efficient for your purpose.
Don’t cram too many fields into a form, do include more dropdowns than text fields to ensure concrete data, and make it easier for people to attach documents.
Workflows often get misdirected and delayed because exceptions and special conditions are not properly defined. For instance, if the CTO is holding the hiring process up when it isn’t actually necessary that he be consulted on every hire, Curtis can create a condition to skip him unless it is for a key position.
Similarly, the person in-charge of the designing the wellness program workflow can add a condition about circulating the wellness event only among the teams located in the corporate office first, and starting a separate workflow for teams located elsewhere.
Connecting your team with a powerful workflow software is a great idea, but if you have some underlying flaws in your process and how you collect data, your attempts at automation will be as useful as a white crayon. Check these four tips as you diagnose how to improve your workflows.
Kissflow is a great option for department heads looking for a tool that is easy enough for everyone to set up on their own.