What Are the Best Tips for Workflow Implementation?

D. Nelson

Workflow describes the steps of a process. In most cases, the term is used to describe a model of work. For example, a manager in an insurance company who hopes to improve efficiency might analyze workflow, which includes departments through which a claim passes, the speed at which a claim passes, and the smoothness of communication among various departments. When a manager practices workflow implementation, he or she is introducing a new procedure into an organization's daily operations. The best tips for workflow implementation normally includes a plan or model that addresses past shortcomings, the inclusion of new technology, and training of employees.

Before choosing a workflow system, you might want to have a consultant perform a workflow analysis.
Before choosing a workflow system, you might want to have a consultant perform a workflow analysis.

To be sure that new workflow implementation is worth while, a manager should first be aware of how a past system was flawed. In most instances, workflow is not effective when it results in waste and increased cost. Wasted time between stages of a process, unclear communication between departments, and sets of data that contradict one another can be symptoms of a malfunctioning workflow model. These problems slow production, result in misused labor, and technology that is not used to optimal effect.

A manager practicing workflow implementation should list existing problems and locate where in a system these problems are occurring. In some cases, creating new protocols can reduce the number mistakes and instances of inaccurate information. The efficiency of processes can often improve with the introduction of new technology.

One good tip for managers who deal with complex processes is to introduce software that allows for automated workflow. This method of workflow implementation requires a manager to create a process model that he or she can then enter into a computer program. Most software allows users access to template documents and enables them to customize interfaces to meet needs of an organization. Automated workflow is especially useful in contexts in which documents pass through similar stages day after day, allowing for an orderly and efficient workflow.

With workflow implementation comes the need to train employees. Many managers find that most workers are accepting of new workflow models if they are made to understand how a new model can be more efficient than an old process. Some workers can be resistant at first, though basic leadership and business motivation techniques often can be effective in helping them to adopt new practices.

Managers who implement new workflow models should do so slowly, allowing workers plenty of time to learn new technology. Employee proficiency in using new technology should be assessed prior to complete implementation. Likewise, new workflow models often need to be adjusted on a trial and error basis. This means that a manager can benefit from piloting a process in smaller areas then gradually expanding implementation.

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