The human brain can process images 60,000 times faster than any other form of visual media. We are visual by nature and when we read or hear words, we often visualize them. Visualization can help improve the way we work, especially workflow visualization. It's a powerful tool that can enhance organizational productivity.
Workflow visualization is critical to a team’s success. A visual workflow designer helps all project stakeholders know what they need to do and where it fits in the overall project. A visual workflow gives managers a high level of flexibility and empowers them to constantly improve it.
What is Workflow Visualization?
Workflow visualization is an adaptable technique that uses visual cues and flows to depict every step of a process and enhance project management. It allows participants to view developing processes and see the entire project at once. They can also automate steps in their visual workflows.
A workflow visualization tool has functional graphics that offer content intelligence and impact how organizations are run. It provides insight into what’s working, what’s not, what you need, and better ways of doing things.
Users can drag and drop workflow elements into place while incorporating process steps. Making workflows more visually oriented simplifies planning and helps team members identify bottlenecks and exchange information easily. This results in a more productive and effective team.
Workflow Visualization vs Process Builder
Workflow visualization tools and process builders are both automation tools with a visual user interface that supports drag and drop features. They allow users to add or remove fields quickly even without technical expertise.
A workflow visualization tool’s ready-made nature makes it easier to launch. Visual workflows are more comprehensive and can handle bulk processes. They are also cost-effective and customizable, hence ideal for small to medium-sized businesses.
Process builders are newer tools with more functionalities. They follow a linear flow with Either/Or (IF/THEN/ELSE) decisions. They have in-depth customization features and can automate more complex processes. A process builder is meant for business-specific processes and for calling Apex methods.
Benefits of Workflow Visualization
Here are the advantages of visualizing workflows:
A workflow visualization platform puts all project items on a shared board, so everyone understands how work is progressing. They know what needs to be done, who’s doing which task, where things are stalling, and when specific items should be completed.
Visualizing workflows increases transparency and promotes accountability and motivation. Project managers can see how resources are being spent and what work occupies their team’s time. They can also spot bottlenecks and find effective ways to address them.
There's no better way to improve than by identifying where you’re going wrong. Every high-performing team keeps tweaking its processes. Since workflow visualization tools simplify the process of measuring progress and success, it becomes easier for teams to spot improvement opportunities.
Team members can share their thoughts, check past performance, and identify areas for improvement. Process improvement meetings can further help teams review their systems, processes, and technologies to improve workflows.
Where are the bottlenecks?
Which tasks need to be reassigned?
How can tasks get completed faster and efficiently?
Workflow visualization platforms help teams collaborate more effectively. Rather than just listing tasks, for each task, they can define the requirements broadly. Boards become an extension of a team’s work, helping them communicate and collaborate better.
Depending on the workflow visualization platform, team members can add due dates, change task assignees, and share file attachments. Some tools even have built-in commenting features within task boards and cards.
Workflow visualization simplifies the process of prioritizing and re-prioritizing tasks. It reduces ambiguity, helping teams understand what’s really important. When resource capacity is limited, project managers can quickly make informed decisions.
Workflow visualization tools make it easy to see what each team member is working on. This can help others determine if they can take on more work and how it will impact the project. Discussions are more focused and it’s easy to clarify things.
Examples of Visualizing Workflows
Content marketing is typically hectic—it requires cooperation between a writer, editor, and marketer. Workflow visualization tools improve collaboration between these three people.
The writer creates an article draft and sends it to the editor
The editor either:
Approves the article and forwards it to the designer or
Returns it to the writer outlining what to fix
After the article is approved, the editor creates visual assets based on the topic and forwards them to the marketer for implementation
The marketer uploads the article, optimizes it for SEO, and then shares it.
The most common use of workflow visualization in eCommerce is tracking an order.
The customer places an order
The payment portal processes the transaction and confirms whether or not the amount was received.
If payment fails, the customer is informed, and the process terminates.
If the payment is verified, the seller forwards the product to the fulfillment center
The item is shipped to the customer
Once the customer receives the item, the process terminates.
Workflow visualization helps organizations restructure and optimize the employee onboarding process, making it a lot easier.
The HR sends onboarding paperwork to the employee
The employee returns filled-in documents
HR sends the documents to company management for approval
The office manager ensures the workspace and company software are ready for the new employee
Employee orientation starts once the new hire shows up
How to Visualize Your Workflows and Improve Business Operations
1. Understand Workflow Diagram Symbols and Shapes
Whether you’re designing a project or organizational structure workflow diagram, you need to have a basic understanding of the symbols and shapes representing elements of your process.
Oval – represents a task’s starting and endpoints
Rectangle – represents an instruction or action
Diamond – Used for decision-making, one path corresponds to TRUE and a separate one for FALSE
Circle – shows a connection between flow elements
Arrow – shows the process flow from one step to another
Clock – time delay
2. Identify the Process Requiring Visualization
Consider following a top-down approach by identifying the key areas requiring attention. Then think of the workflow you need to draw. For a large organization, it may not be possible to outline the complete end-to-end process at once. First, identify the business-critical processes/tasks/projects and draw them. Thereafter, you can integrate other sections.
3. Break Tasks Into Smaller Bits
Map out the key functional areas. Break the project or process down and classify the elements into the three main segments of a workflow process diagram:
Input: the equipment, capital, data, resource, or labor necessary to start and complete the transformation.
Process: the activities and changes in the process which use the input to deliver the output.
Output: the process end result.
4. Select a Good Workflow Visualization Tool
Your workflow diagram tool determines the success of your diagramming efforts. A good workflow visualization tool is user-friendly, has an intuitive UI, and drag-and-drop functionality. Cloud-based technologies are great because the entire team can share information in real time and work collaboratively.
Take Your Workflow Visualization to the Next Level
Workflow visualization can help teams meet their organizations’ large-scale efforts or achieve small, focused results. They boost employee engagement, improve communication, and enhance productivity. The platforms help businesses optimize resource usage and adhere to standard business policies. If you haven't tried out a workflow visualization tool, you’re failing your company. Kissflow's Workflow can help you get started.
Streamline your projects, tasks, and activities.