Sunday, February 22, 2009

Workflow is a Game Changer

What can workflow do for you? Whether you realize it or not you “do” workflow everyday. Even your morning routine is a series of workflow steps. Those steps can be altered to some extent – but it’s not likely you would get dressed before bathing. So, there is a pattern and logic to your morning workflow. This blog post is mainly about how a business can use workflow to change the game, but it could just as easily be applied to your daily life with similar game changing effects.

What can workflow do for you?

Workflow can change the way you do business. Workflow can help you understand your business. Workflow can change the way business is done. Workflow is a game changer.

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Considering the overly used term of workflow you will quickly realize that workflow is everywhere. Humans have been practicing various forms of workflow to mange tribes, crops, and everything else for eons. Consider hunter-gatherer tribes and food management --- as the tribes grew in size someone needed to hunt or collect the food, someone needed to process the food, someone needed to distribute the food. I suggest this was an early use of the PDCA cycle – which I wrote about a few days ago here Deming and the PDCA Cycle. The tribes that survived and succeeded changed the game by having the best workflow.

Bringing this forward to modern times I think workflow is more critical today than ever before. Dennis Parker, President of the K2 EMEA business unit, says something that is very relevant and poignant for today. He says “Process is Pervasive” and he couldn’t be more right. Process is everywhere and as a follow on to my previous blog post where I stated Workflow is Recession Proof I think the smart companies are talking a much closer look at their workflow and processes.

Change the Rules

Workflow is all about rules. To change the game you first need to understand where you are today – meaning you need to understand your rules & your processes. Once you know what you’ve got you can make a realistic evaluation and decide what can be changed.

Thinking Points

  • What companies do you know that have great processes?
    • Processes for: purchasing, returns, feedback, etc
  • Have good processed helped these companies to compete and succeed?
  • Could their processes be improved? How?
  • Will you help them to change by commenting / critiquing?

What’s the greatest thing about processes? The greatest thing about processes is … that they can always be improved. This is why process improvement will never go away and it’s part of the reason why workflow is recession proof.

What processes do you think you can improve? When will you get started? Drop me a line here as a comment of contact me via Twitter, e-mail or Facebook.

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About The Author:
I have spent the better part of the last 16 years working in various aspects of the ECM space. I spent time at
Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and most recently Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text in Nov 2008). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company. Follow me on Twitter, check my blog, send email or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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3 comments:

John Myers said...

Jeff- I couldn't agree more. I believe that both in normal ("happy path") business processes and exception (discrepancy handling or opportunity action) processes we don't use enough standardized processes.

Some of it is "obvious", but some of we just "forget" about or don't think about. Putting it in a standardized process, we can not only follow the process, but report on how the process works and doesn't work.

next_connect said...

Workflow really is a game changer, and I've seen it spread like wild fire in more than one organization.

The organization needs to have criteria in place for process selection and prioritization. Groups also have to be willing to review their processes and not just accept that "this is how we have always done it."

Anonymous said...

Ummm....waiting for the punchline on this post. So, people/orgs that are better at optimizing workflow will eventually win out over those that don't...so what? Like that's rocket science? How about dissecting who is making good workflow tools? SPS, Windows Workflow, BizTalk, Skelta, LogicBase...who are the good ones and why? Now that would be some useful information.