When it comes to managing workflows, you may find yourself spending more time managing and less time doing. If this is you, don’t worry (you’re not alone). Each year millions of mangers struggle to implement efficient workflows, leaving their employees feeling either stressed, overwhelmed, or downright clueless. Managing a business isn’t always easy, even for those with years of industry experience, which is why many organizations rely on business tools to get the job done. Before we discuss the tools, here are some tips and tricks for creating and managing efficient workflows.
Find Out What Makes Sense for Your Business
There are many ways you can go about managing your company’s workflows, but it’s important to note only a few workflow configurations actually make sense. Depending on the roles of your employees, you must organize your workflows in a way that maximizes efficiency and ultimately gets the job done without creating unnecessary bottlenecks. This can be achieved by first brainstorming how, why, when, and by whom each task is completed.
Start by identifying the roles and strengths of each employee and delegating tasks accordingly. If you haven’t already done so, establish a hierarchy to determine who has what level of authority and assign permissions accordingly. Remember, all workflows should be created with your end goals in mind (including deadlines and compliance), so try to eliminate any unnecessary steps that may be keeping you from achieving your objectives. If you’re an engineer, this shouldn’t be difficult, since you deal with efficiencies every day.
Talk to Your Team
While your workflow configurations may seem to make sense to you, it’s important to ensure your team sees it similarly and is on board. In design and development, you may feel confident you have a complete understanding of each step and what it takes to complete, but without talking to your team first, you may be left unaware of some of the possible challenges that come with each step.
The truth is, only your experienced team members know what it takes to complete each task in your workflows, so it is always a good idea to consult them before making the decision to implement. Other people may be able to see flaws in processes that aren’t immediately apparent to you or other team members. You may not be able to act upon all the inefficiencies in your workflows, but knowing they exist can be beneficial to both you and your team members.
Automate Whenever Possible
Automation has become an important component in managing complex workflows, particularly in the engineering and manufacturing industries. Since design and development requires a series of review and approval processes, it’s important your workflows reflect these processes in a way that’s simple for your team to manage. Engineering workflows are usually document-centric with managers typically reviewing CAD drawings and, depending on the nature of your organization, documents may require a voting process, which can easily be completed through automation.
You may need to adjust user permissions as a document moves between steps, depending on whether they are approved or rejected, which is just one of the many reasons why workflow automation can be so powerful. This is particularly useful for companies that manage telecommuters, as remote workers are typically given less control over their proprietary documents since they are working from out of the office. At any given time, only those who are modifying, reviewing, or redlining documents should have access to them, ensuring the highest level of security and compliance with industry standards, like NIST guidelines.
Keep Audit Trails of All Actions
Compliance is often one of the biggest concerns when managing workflows, but is not the only benefit of recorded audit trails. Audit trails give managers full transparency into how workflows are actually being utilized, making it easy to spot inefficiencies, such as bottlenecks. In most cases, people typically don’t get everything right the first time around, inspecting audit trails is an extremely useful mechanism for working and improving document-centric workflows.
Improvement is Within Your Reach
Managing workflows can be as easy or as difficult as you make it, but with access to the right tools, it’s simple to create and manage your team’s workflows. Workflow tools such as ImageSite can support teams in managing collaboration and creating efficiency, reducing costs, and allowing for quicker time to market. Unlike other out of the box solutions, ImageSite can be implemented within just a few days, and at a fraction of the cost. Businesses of all sizes have enjoyed the tangible benefits of ImageSite and its workflow tools for more than 25 years, making it one of the most powerful, field-tested products on the market to date.