What is Workflow Analysis?
Workflow analysis is scrutinizing an organization's workflow to enhance operational effectiveness. It uncovers potential areas for optimization, including repetitive tasks or processes, suboptimal workplace arrangements, and congestion points within the workflow.
If you are responsible for organizational efficiency, you’ve probably spent time thinking about workflow management, BPM, and automating redundant processes (Business Process Automation). Many people simply jump on the workflow automation bandwagon because of the fear of missing out–they don’t want to lose out on all the vague ‘benefits and advantages’.
But sometimes, these efforts just don’t seem to work like they are supposed to. The reason? They didn’t do workflow analysis.
There’s no point in setting up an automated workflow unless you know the benefits you expect to receive, and how your workflow can be improved. However, if you have hard data and feedback from stakeholders, you can use workflow analysis to find several easy ways to improve on what you already have.
Why Do You Need Workflow Analysis?
Your market and environment are constantly evolving. If your workflows aren’t able to keep pace with internal and external advancements, you risk becoming unable to fit the constantly changing needs of your customers and employees.
Also, your employees spend most of their day performing business-critical tasks such as onboarding new talents, process purchase requisitions and orders, handling vacation and reimbursement requests etc.
Workflow analysis makes sure the benefits you wanted when you signed up for workflow automation actually occur. It allows you to track and measure your workflows, decode pain points and operational bottlenecks. The level of accuracy provided by workflow analysis helps you to run each workflow with optimal efficiency. This includes efficiency and productivity in business processes, customer satisfaction, regulatory compliance, and employee engagement.
Types of Workflow Analysis
Linear Workflow Analysis
When workflows are organized in a straight line, they are called Linear workflows. Linear workflow analysis is the most common type used when you have a well-defined process and everyone involved is aware of their roles and responsibilities.
When an organization has different departments that have got different sets of tasks, cross-functional workflow analysis suits the best. It is also for those companies that lack a clear and organized structure and faces difficulties when the workflow is constantly divided between the departments.
Hybrid Workflow Analysis
When both the linear and crossfunctional workflow analyses are followed, it is called hybrid workflow analysis. The goal of hybrid workflows is to balance efficiency with effectiveness to consider the inputs of different individual departments. This analysis can be used when departments work together on a project.
Benefits of Conducting Workflow Analysis for Businesses
If organizational efficiency is your key goal, you would have already started considering process management, workflow management, and enabling innovation like business process automation. But before jumping into implementing these technologies, it is important to do complete research, like workflow analysis.
A boost in efficiency
You need to take a broader look at your business processes to identify the steps that you need to automate and digitize. Through this, you can find inefficiencies and the areas that you need to upgrade from the existing technology. After finding and correcting these places, you will see your business scale and open new areas for profit and revenue. You will find your business operations running more smoothly than before, and getting a lot of tasks done quickly and efficiently.
Happy and satisfied employees
Who likes being struck with old and outdated technologies? If your employees are aware of the technological advancements and have given you suggestions for changes, yet they feel nothing has changed, they only end up getting frustrated. This will lead to lesser engagement with their work and sometimes they might even quit. You will also end up losing a lot of your money when you choose to leave these unchecked.
Only when you put a good deal of effort and money into implementing workflow analysis, you can show your team members that you care and are taking the right steps to make their jobs easier. When employees know that they are being heard, they feel motivated, which boosts their overall morale, leading to more productivity and engagement.
Flexible physical infrastructure
Through workflow analysis, you can help the floor managers to make the most out of the physical space. For example, if printers and scanners are at a distance from those who use them often, you can move things around to make their lives easier. Using a workflow monitoring tool, managers don’t need to break their sweat when it comes to locating office equipment or assigning office space.
Easy to achieve and manage regulatory compliance
With a workflow analysis tool, you can ensure that all the steps are rightly followed for regulatory compliance. Industries like healthcare, banking, and finance, have too many regulations and reporting requirements that need to be followed. By bringing a sense of accountability and step-logging the workflows, you can create audit trails on demand. Furthermore, you make it easy to locate the information regarding compliance whenever needed, making it easy to create annual reports.
Workflow Analysis Examples with Use cases
Use case - 1
Companies undergo various phases of growth, and as they grow their size also increases. When the company just had 5-10 employees, it would have been easier to operate with a time card, where the employees stamp their login information and that is transferred to a spreadsheet. But when the company has grown fourfold and is at 100 employees, it is impossible to stick to old practices.
It could be extremely daunting and time-consuming. Here is when you need to adopt a workflow management tool to automate your manual workflows.
Use case - 2
Another practical example is the time spent on reimbursement requests. Say the finance used to look at reimbursement requests through emails initially when the company size was as low as 10. But once the company has grown, and stands at say 200 employees, the inboxes of the finance departments end up getting flooded. There are chances for emails to even get lost, causing unnecessary friction between the finance team and other departments.
Using a workflow management tool, you can eliminate the manual processes and establish an organization-wide practice that can make it efficient and save tonnes of time.
4 Simple Steps to do Your Own Workflow Analysis
Here are a few steps to help you do your own workflow analysis.
Step 1: Collect Hard Data
Take a report of the workflow you want to examine. Analyze the statistics and see which ones are performing as required and which ones aren’t.
What kind of data do you need? Start with this list:
Number of items in that workflow initiated over a period
Number of items completed
Number of items rejected
Average, min, and max time is taken to complete each task
Number of times a task is sent back or rejected
Number of times an item requires extra clarification
Look for comprehensive workflow analysis tools that can give you all of this information, facilitating you to take actionable insights before the issue gets out of hand.
Step 2: Collect Soft Data
For workflow analysis, just numbers aren’t enough. Interact with people who use the workflow tools most frequently. Start with those who fill out the form. Your sales team is responsible for 80% of the expense report submissions. Understand the following:
Are they pleased with the ease of the form?
Do they have any complaints about submitting their requests?
Are their reimbursements getting approved on time?
In a few cases, your Sales VP may not have all the data they need to approve the request. Sending emails to the sales reps to get more details may usually take time to get a response.
Since workflow analysis tools usually only focus on the hard data, this approach gives you a chance to take your analysis to the next level.
Step 3: Ask the Hard Questions
Some workflows are created to minimize errors. Others are meant to speed up the process. When you keep the big picture in mind as you are doing workflow analysis, you can ask questions like:
Is this step really needed?
What is its purpose?
Who is it supposed to serve?
Can it be converted from approval to a notification?
Does everyone have enough data to perform their task?
How can we bring in more automation?
Using a combination of workflow analysis tools and in-person conversations, you can come up with the right solution.
Step 4: Implement the Changes and Follow Up
Once you’ve identified all the changes that came from your workflow analysis, implement them in your system. Notify all stakeholders of any change, and let them know if there will be any downtime, or how to handle items in the middle of a changed workflow.
Workflow analysis isn’t just a good way of identifying if there are any changes that need to be done with a workflow. You can also prepare useful reports and see which workflows and which aspects of a particular workflow are helping your organization grow. It’s important to analyze and improve your workflows continuously.
Great workflow analysis templates or tools ensure that you can get all the data that you need to perform the analysis effortlessly, thereby saving you time, effort, and money.
Workflow analysis doesn’t stop with identifying and enhancing your existing workflows. You need to ensure you get a great outcome out of it and that the changes you have made so far are effective. You should regularly engage in workflow analysis to identify the redundancies and inefficiencies here and there.
Features to look for in workflow analysis tools
There are plenty of workflow analysis tools in the markets with unique feature sets to enhance your workflow.
Some unique features that you can consider in workflow analysis tools are:
- Having a preview of the workflow using no code or low code
- Accessible through mobile devices
- Chatbots, comment box, and basic discussion window
- Real-time editing and responsive feedback
- Flexi pricing plans that suit your business needs
- Ability to integrate
- Custom notifications and reminders
- Cloud data storage and secured data encryption
- Customizable templated and forms
- Workflow optimization suggestions and analytics features
A good tool helps you identify which processes are running smoothly and which need work. Using that information, you can move ahead and find out where to make changes and where not to so you reduce costs.
That’s exactly what Kissflow Workflow is designed to do: help you analyze your workflows so that you can create a truly efficient and productive business process, tailored to your particular needs. You can use Kissflow to find out where your processes need work, and where they’re running smoothly.