If you have never undertaken the process of creating a workflow from start to finish, it may feel like a complicated process. While building a workflow can take time (especially when it comes to planning, processes, and testing) it isn’t as daunting as it seems if you know what you’re doing. The key is in knowing how to start and Thrive can help you identify an appropriate workflow for an effective process.
Building a workflow for a single project is not the same as creating a workflow for a business process, which is why it’s important to understand the difference.In order to build a project workflow, you would generally need to group a series of one-off tasks in order to accomplish a goal. This might include:
- Identifying the ultimate outcome
- Creating a series of steps involved to reach the outcome
- Listing any one-off tasks and documents involved in each step
- Identifying the order that each task needs to occur in
- Assigning tasks to a person, if necessary (some tasks may be automated)
- Setting a duration for each task and step
Projects are often completed using project management strategies and software. Project management involves the initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, control, and closing of a team’s specific goal, usually involving a certain set of criteria that needs to be met.The biggest difference between project management and process management is that project management has a temporary, constrained scope, quality, budget, and timeframe.
Creating a workflow for a process, on the other hand, involves defining processes that need to be managed throughout the organization, which may include repeatable projects and grouped tasks. It also requires visualizing, measuring, controlling, reporting, and, improving that process over time, with the goal to increase productivity and/or decrease costs.
While both are somewhat different, both project and process workflows can be organized in similar ways, using visual flowcharts and diagrams to document each stage, step and task.
Step 1: Name your workflow. The name should help you identify your ultimate outcome, but don’t worry too much about this, as you can change it later.
Step 2: Identify start and end points. What events or tasks will trigger the process to start? How will you know when your outcome has been reached?
Step 3: Identify what is needed to perform the process. What tasks, documents, and actual materials (automation software, programs, etc.) are needed to complete the process?
Step 4: List any tasks and activities. What needs to be done to accomplish your outcome?
Step 5: Identify the order tasks should be accomplished. Should certain tasks be finished before others can be started? Or can certain tasks be accomplished at the same time?
Step 6: Identify roles. Who will be involved in what tasks or activities? Some tasks may involve simple automation tools and no human approval, while others will need a review and sign off. Identify who is responsible for which task and process in your workflow.
Step 7: Review and finalize. After you’ve set everything up, you will want to test your workflow and review it to ensure that all processes are efficient and achievable and that everything accomplishes what it needs to accomplish. Don’t forget to test your systems to make sure there are no hiccups throughout the process.