As a small to medium business it is common that internal process workflow can many times get overlooked. Even though it’s an integral part to all businesses, having business workflows implemented and documented usually takes a back seat to other business operations. In most cases businesses will operate well enough without a defined workflow process.
For the purposes of this article we define Business Workflow Process as an activity that is created through software or documentation with the intension of directing employee actions/activities into a defined and consistent process. So let’s look at some of the advantages of implementing a defined Business Workflow Process.
1. Defines Process and Drives ERP
If you currently don’t have business workflows setup for your company, there is no better time than now to start developing them. Creating workflows will help define your business processes and subsequently drive your ERP solution. Every business has an ERP solution even if it’s not contained in a single solution.
Some ERP solutions have workflow processes built in. For those that don’t, companies must create their own through documentation or programs that have some kind of workflow capabilities. Microsoft SharePoint is many times used for creating workflow processes. ERP programs can also assist with workflow process creation by taking advantage of built in workflow features. Process workflow can also help determine what ERP solution would fit your business model.
2. Creates Structure
No two people do their job exactly the same, so to operate a business with a great deal of efficiency, the trick is to get them to work together fluently. Business workflow can be created down to the individual job level. This not only gives you control and insight into your business process, but also gives you security and consistency during employment turnover. Operating a business with a loose process structure can be costly when dealing with correcting errors and managing damage control. Every business should have a repository of process flow charts and workflow definition documents.
3. Enforces Policy
Business workflow processes can help enforce the policies of your business. You can direct users to refer to the workflow documentation for the proper process to follow. Within the workflow documentation be sure to reference specific policies within the process. This simple addition to your business model will help ensure your customers are treated in a consistent manner and increase your level of business process continuity.
4. Is Transparent To Your Customers
Having a defined workflow process will enable you to better serve your customers. Aligning your business processes to the needs of your customers is a win-win solution. One of the business characteristics customers look for is confidence and consistency within a business. Simply put, if you are confident in your processes, your customers will be confident in you.
5. Helps Define Technology Needs
Defining a workflow process will allow you to review and compare it to your technology plan. Creating, or changing your process workflow can have a substantial effect on your IT infrastructure. Knowing ahead of time will help you budget for those changes.
While developing and implementing a process is important, defining your future workflow processes will also help you plan for your future technology needs as well. Try to work on a future process plan. Maybe it’s a wish list of improvements, or a plan to add additional users or steps in the process. Having clear sight of your future process workflows will help predict and plan for those changes.
6. Identifies Gaps in Business Process
Implementing a business workflow process forces each business to review their processes in fine detail. This exercise is a great way to find out what areas of workflow need work or are missing completely. I’ve assisted customers to create a complete workflow system starting with nothing. After discussing general workflow with management I interviewed department managers and created workflow documentation that was later reviewed and approved by management. This allowed the business to see the areas that lacked detail in process. Once we defined those areas, managers were able to “fill the gap” with new process documentation to give employees clear definition on process.
Whether you’re a large enterprise business or a small 20-user company, Business Workflow Process can help you become more efficient, and more profitable. To find out more about our consulting services that include Enterprise Resource Planning, IT Infrastructure Planning, and Process Workflow Management, contact NetWork Center, Inc. for more information.