Everyone loves a good workflow.
You know, the kind that’s crisp and tight and makes you believe that nothing could go wrong.
But sometimes, when you go to design a workflow, the tool you use has a limitation. Maybe it can’t add a deadline, or you can’t assign a task dynamically. As soon as you start making compromises, the workflow starts to be much less ideal.
Let’s look at workflow design tools and see what features you need to focus on so that you don’t walk away from your workflow feeling disappointed.
What is workflow design?
Workflow design is the visual depiction of the steps involved in a workflow from start to finish. A typical workflow design lays out each task sequentially and provides complete clarity into how data moves from one task to another.
What’s the right way to design workflows? Paper or whiteboards are good for the initial idea, but to actually run the workflow you are going to need something more robust.
The best thing to do is invest in a workflow design tool.
What is a Workflow Designer?
A workflow designer is a tool that helps visually build a workflow from scratch, complete with mapped steps, roles, and approvals. It helps visualize every step a request flows through and highlights actions, conditions, and relationships between steps.
Benefits of a Workflow Designer
A workflow designer is a great tool for organizations looking to create a range of workflows efficiently. They come with a long list of advantages such as:
- Enables automation
- Boosts productivity
- Facilitates collaboration
- Improves transparency
- Eliminates manual errors
- Enhances efficiency
What does a workflow design tool do?
A workflow design tool allows you to graphically depict the various tasks involved as well as performers, timelines, data, and other aspects crucial to execution. It helps you weave in multiple scenarios and complexities while keeping your eye on the end goal.
But will any workflow design tool do? Unfortunately, not all workflow design softwares are created equal.
Here’s a list of critical features you should look for when shopping for workflow design tools.
Important features in a workflow designer tool
These features mentioned below are non-negotiable for effective workflow design.
Not everyone who is responsible for a workflow in your organization is equipped with programming know-how. But that doesn’t mean they need to spend weeks waiting for an engineer to be available to create their workflow. Your choice of workflow design software should have a no-code, intuitive interface, perfect for business users. It also requires drag-and-drop building capability to simplify the whole initiative.
A seemingly obvious but critical feature is the ability to assign tasks. This improves accountability and transparency when the workflow is being executed. It also contributes toward greater clarity. But task assigning can get complicated in larger organizations. What if you always want someone’s manager to approve a task? Or do you want to pull out an approver based on a unique chart? Or a formula? These features should be built into your workflow design tool.
The best workflows are collaborative. The workflow design tool you choose should facilitate inputs from everyone involved in the tasks. It helps create a comprehensive picture rather than a limited one, which could go on to hinder efficiency.
Copy, export, and share
Application of workflow design is just as important as the creation, if not more. Towards this end, effective workflow design tools have capabilities such as copy, export, and share. You often need to replicate a workflow with small changes for another department, or you want to show the data you’ve collected. These features make it much easier the more reliant you get on automated processes.
Sometimes, a few tasks within a workflow can be grouped together in a sub-workflow for better organization. When workflow design tools allow you to create sub-workflows, it enables simplification, flexibility, and better testing for bottlenecks and errors.
Business rules are necessary to ensure consistency and efficiency in workflows. Look for the capability to create simple or complex business rules with ease. After all, no two workflows are alike.
In some workflows, there could be scenarios where approval is required from more than one authority. An instance of this is when an expense reimbursement request crosses a certain threshold. It may require approval from the line manager, department head, payments team, as well as the head of the finance department. Make sure that your workflow design tool can enable single or multi-tiered approvals for all possibilities.
Varied workflow types
A typical organization usually has a combination of sequential (tasks are performed one after another) and parallel (tasks can happen simultaneously and not linearly) workflows. The right workflow design software will allow you to be able to create all types of workflows with the same level of ease.
Reminders and custom notifications
While designing workflows, reminders and notifications are essential to minimize delays and bottlenecks. Workflow design tools should have features that let you add reminders and customize the type of notifications received. This can be very effective to execute workflows within desired timelines.
Timeouts and waits
In practical application, not all workflows are completed in one go. There may be times when you need to pause a workflow for a certain amount of time or wait until a specific action has been completed before proceeding with the rest of it. Competent workflow designer tools have options to include timeouts and wait for conditions to accommodate these situations.
Now that you have robust know-how of what the perfect workflow design software should feature, you’re probably wondering how to design a workflow.
Getting a workflow design project started
Once you’ve chosen the right software, half the battle is won. Starting a workflow design project may seem daunting but logic and clarity of thought can simplify the whole initiative.
Choose the process
Which workflow requires streamlining at the earliest? Pick one that you feel needs most improvement in efficiency.
Delve into the resources involved in the workflow you’ve chosen such as people, materials, technology, budgets, and others.
List out tasks
Make an exhaustive list of all the tasks involved from start to finish. Understand what order they are performed in as well as timeframes for each task.
List out performers
Understand who is responsible for each of the tasks as well as where approvals are required and assign roles.
Factor in inputs and outputs
Include all other details that are essential to the functioning of the workflow such as instructions, data, checklists, sources, and references.
Design using the tool
Create a visual representation of your workflow with your chosen software. Make sure to include logical loops, conditions, and custom notifications.
Share the workflow design with your team and incorporate inputs from task performers and other stakeholders for a comprehensive effort.
Execute a test run to identify and fix loopholes and possible problem areas to improve the workflow.
Once the workflow meets requirements, deploy and monitor progress.
Taking workflow design to the next level
Workflow design is a critical starting point to efficiency initiatives. But adopting workflow management software can help you take your efforts to the next level. Automation, monitoring, and data-backed insights can equip your business to thrive despite cutthroat competition and uncertainties.
With workflow management software, you can
- manage and optimize workflows from end to end,
- commit to process improvement,
- reduce application clutter, and
- integrate easily with other software for a unified experience.
A compelling workflow management solution
The simplest and most effective way to optimize your workflows is to choose Kissflow Workflow. It scores high on ease of use, and you can create and deploy workflows in 15 minutes! Powerful reporting and analytics help you boost efficiency. Role-based access secures confidential data.
Try a customized demo today and get started on your journey to efficiency.