Workflow Analysis: Using your Processes’ info to improve your Business
Workflow analysis may seem like one of those complex tangle of words you want nothing to do with but, in fact, it refers to the process that will allow you to take a closer look at your company to determine where its strengths and weaknesses lie.
This type of analysis should be conducted on a regular basis mainly because it’ll help ensuring you’ll will be able to pick up on any inconsistencies and inefficiency points throughout your organization’s processes right away which consequently will allow for you to make the appropriate changes as soon as possible.
Analyzing your workflows on a regular basis will also help you get your business back on track towards success whenever you feel you’re derailing – both in financial terms as well as popularity and market reputation.
Neglecting to insert workflow analysis within your regular processes, however, can result in problems going unseen for a longer time, consequently creating a risk of they becoming chronic and much more difficult to resolve as time goes by. Failing to keep your workflows analysed and updated may end up causing your organization to fall behind your competition, becoming obsolete or even losing too much money for it to be reversible.
The benefits from having your workflow always updated and running at its higher efficiency are clear and any company will harvest them. The more efficient your workflow its, the less time and resources you’ll use to accomplish a task. Using less time and effort will enhance your overall productivity and, therefore, result on delivering more to the customer and keep them coming back.
But first…what is a Workflow?
The first step before you can start you workflow analysis is understanding what a workflow is. From there you’ll be able to identity what is you need to actively analyze and comprehend how important doing so is.
We’ve already written a whole post on what a workflow is but, simplifying it, is the process you go through to get things done. Every department within an organization will have its own processes and, therefore, its own workflows.
As every part of your company will work differently, using workflow analysis will certainly help determining inefficiencies not only within one or two departments, but the way they interact throughout your entire business. The results of your analysis can then be confronted with your business management plan and your goals, to make it even easier to see what must be done in order to achieve said goals.
Workflow Analysis will keep your Business moving forward:
Being flexible and in constant evolution is essential in order to achieve success and keep your business moving forward for a very long time (or at least for as long as you want it to). By constant evolution I mean keeping up with all the changes happening around it, with its costumers wishes and demands for features, the industry changes, etc.
If you make workflow analysis a constant in your everyday business life, you may eventually realize your processes are becoming obsolete or not responding to the market’s/your customer’s needs. Those very same processes may have been fine at first, when you first implemented them, but now they need to evolve together with your surroundings.
Whether you’re analyzing your own company’s processes or working as a business analyst for other companies, you can certainly identify which processes can be automated – today’s technology has made it a lot easier – consequently saving resources, time and money. The results of your workflow analysis, therefore, can help you point out determined which processes and how they can be improved.
Workflow Analysis Steps:
The type, size or industry of your business are irrelevant for your workflow analysis – apart from all this information, the steps you’ll go through will always be the same.
Normally, hiring consultants (business analysts from outside your company) is the best way to go because, being external to all the processes will ensure they won’t have any attachment or loyalty to any particular process, making them impartial and truly objective when looking at how your company operates.
Here are the steps you’ll proceed according to when analyzing your workflows:
1. From the top down – Senior level managers:
The business analyst will start the workflow analysis process by interviewing and getting to know the way upper level managers work and their opinions: how they feel about the company and the potential points they may have already identified need improvements.
While identifying the upper level managers’ inputs, the BA may also identify what’s the company’s ultimate goal and vision and, therefore, identify what they expect from having the company analyzed in the first place. This information will be the analyst’s starting point.
Following the natural path down the line, the interviews will proceed with managers all throughout the company as well as the employees they lead. Doing so will give a clearer look on how the business routine actually is. No department is more or less important in this part of the analysis, every little part must be investigated. This part of the analysis is time consuming because every individual role must be looked at.
2. Documenting everyday tasks – resources and effort:
By taking a closer look at the resources (including time) and effort spent on each specific task will allow the business analyst to see how things truly happen, identifying what is running accordingly to expected, what can be improved, etc.
3. Business Improvement recommendations:
After analyzing the processes and the people all throughout the company, the BA will put together a plan with recommendations with the best steps for the company’s owner should take in order to improve efficiency.
The analyst’s plan will most likely begin with ideas being showed to lower level managers – they’re the ones actually performing the analysed tasks and processes. Having practical knowledge will give them a better background for looking objectively at the analyst’s ideas and give their opinions about it. These are the people that can point at an idea and say how they feel about them.
The feedback the analyst receives from these employees is critical and essential for making improvements to their suggestions and making them doable realistic to the company’s routine.
The business analyst’s main goal is to find ways to streamline and/or automate processes throughout your company. After working with members of the lower level management, they’ll have to bring their recommendations to the upper level: they’re the ones who will ultimately decide whether the company will follow through with the suggested course of action.
Looking for tools to automate your workflows?
Try Pipefy! We help companies keep organised and more productive by running their processes and day-by-day routines on an easy and intuitive tool, making them leave in the past inefficient manual forms, spreadsheets and email threads.