Workflow Diagrams: What They Are, How They Work, and Where to Use Them

Jeremy Francis

October 16th, 2018 workflow  

A workflow diagram is a great way to design, tweak, and analyze business processes. Getting your business processes optimized might sound like a buzzword gimmick, but it can generate real results.

Especially with super-efficient methods like visualization through workflow diagrams, you can break your business processes down and tweak them to ensure off-the-charts business efficiency.

Let’s break it down, and take a look at what a workflow diagram is, and how you can take a business process at your workplace and map it using a workflow diagram.

The Workflow Diagram: Breaking It Down

What is a Workflow Diagram?

A workflow diagram is a basic visual layout of a business process. Using it, you can represent the various tasks involved, as well as the team members who will execute these tasks.

This isn’t a radical concept–Henry Gantt (sound familiar?) and Frederick Wilson Taylor actually came up with the concept in the early 1900s. However, there’s no ignoring its usefulness in today’s business. A workflow diagram can be used to streamline everyday business processes and operations, boosting efficiency, workforce productivity and hence profits as well.

“How Do Workflow Diagrams Help, Though?”

Let’s look at this from two perspectives:

  1. Workflows help employees keep track of the tasks they execute within each process. With a visual layout telling them what needs to be done, when, and by whom, cumulative delays are less likely.
  2. Looking from a broad top-down perspective of everyday operations at your organization, you can identify potential bottlenecks, flaws in process guidelines, and areas that can be improved.

And this is just scratching the surface. Workflow diagrams have no peers when it comes to effectively analyzing and streamlining processes at your workplace.

Where You Can Use Workflow Diagrams

In Process Improvement

Mapping out a process onto a workflow diagram, as we’ve discussed, helps you stay ahead of potential flaws and delays, and lost productivity.

In Tracking Processes

Aside from analyzing the process itself, you can combine your workflow diagram with software that has real-time process tracking abilities. Doing this will help you keep track of deadlines, role transfers, re-assigning tasks, and more.

In Combating Shadow IT and Tribal Knowledge

Shadow IT is an umbrella term used to describe software programs that team members use at work, without the knowledge of IT. This poses a serious security risk, as over 40% of IT spending now comes from outside IT!

Using a workflow diagram and applying process guidelines through a suitable platform, you can make sure that no one on your team uses an alternative software tool. For instance, when you use something like KiSSFLOW to make a time-off management program, you don’t have to worry about HR storing information on unauthorized platforms. Plus, if all departments are using the same platform for workflows, you can save a lot of money on single-point solutions.

Tribal knowledge happens when there are no set guidelines for knowledge transfer–when a new employee steps in, they don’t know what to do, as the employee who did the task earlier didn’t pass on their ‘how to’ knowledge. When your workflow diagram clearly explains how a process happens, new recruits can take one look at it and understand the process well.

A Simple Illustration…

Let’s take a deeper look at our typical business process: leave management.

Without a workflow diagram, leave application usually follows a loose structure:

  • Employee sends  boss a leave request email
  • Boss takes a look, approves, CCs department head and HR
  • Department head also approves, as does HR
  • Email is forwarded to payroll
  • Leave data is entered into employee attendance database

Not a simple process, by any stretch. Imagine if another department needs the employee to work, and they send an email after all the previous emails have been sent. Now multiply this by so many employees who may apply for leave on any given day, and you’ll understand why HR always seem frazzled.

Now, with a workflow diagram that describes the logical flow of events and the stakeholders, things change. KiSSFLOW lets you do just that; what’s more, it will send the data through all the right stages and stakeholders.

Let’s see how this looks like in KiSSFLOW’s simple-to-use platform.

Workflow Diagrams in KiSSFLOW’s In-Built Apps

As you can see, KiSSFLOW’s visual interface makes creating process diagrams and tweaking your processes, easy. You can also keep track of which stage each individual task is at!

If your business doesn’t use workflow diagrams yet, the happy news is that processes will get on the up-and-up the moment you do!