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What are Workflows & Why Do You Need Them?

We had Cameron Milnes, CEO of Emvisage, on our podcast. We talked all about why simplifying your workflow processes is important and how to do it.

What are Workflows & Why Do You Need Them?

Published 5 May, 2021
Written by Marquis Murray

Overloading any team member with simple procedures or repeatable tasks can be a recipe for costly mistakes. But, how can you get those mundane tasks done efficiently? Workflow. A workflow is how your company starts and finishes a task. It’s a way to map out what your company is doing to get from A to Z on an individual task. Workflow encompasses the entire process from beginning to end. So, how can something so simple help your business?

 

Recently, we had Cameron Milnes, CEO of Emvisage, on our podcast “In Systems We Trust.” Emvisage is a field workflow management software in Australia. We talked all about why simplifying your workflow processes is important and how to do it. Now, we’re sharing that knowledge with you. We’ll cover everything you need to know about workflows, workflow software, and how it can help your company.

 

What is a workflow?

Workflow can be described as the process of completing a repeatable task. When it comes to business, workflow is the repeated actions or process of activity, which is organized using a systematic process (often in the form of workflow management software). On top of that, workflow is often referred to as the workflow process. Similarly, this is the process of repeated actions that have to be done in a sequential order to get to the intended outcome. 

 

What is the workflow process?

That’s a lot of words, so let’s break it down to explain what the workflow process looks like. Let’s say you’re making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For the peanut butter and jelly sandwich to work, it has to be done in a certain order:

  • Bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Bread

The order there is important. Because if you wanted to mix things up and switch the order of peanut butter and jelly, you’d still get a delicious sandwich. But, let’s say you do peanut butter, jelly, bread, bread. You’re going to end up with a plate smeared with PB&J, and one slice of bread stuck to the mixture on the plate. 

 

See what we mean? Now, let’s put it in terms of solar installation, as Cameron did for one of his customers. Certain processes have to be followed for a successful installation - and it’s a lot more complicated than your famed PB&J. Spoiler alert: It’s a lot of paperwork. The office has to send the fieldworker paperwork for the installation, for the manufacturer’s warranty, for the customer’s FAQs, and more. A field worker isn’t going to be carrying around 50+ pages of paper. So, what do you do?

 

How can you simplify your workflow?

Most of the time, you can simplify workflow because the actions are repeatable. For Cameron’s customers, every solar installation will follow the same process of manufacturer paperwork, customer FAQs, the solar panel manuals, etc. Either the field worker has to hand all of that over to the solar company’s customers and hope they put it in a safe place, or the admin has to email everything over to the customer.

 

Sending an email would simplify the workflow. But removing the admin altogether is even better. That’s where workflow management software, like Emvisage, comes into place. You can free up the admin to do more important things than sending mundane, repetitive emails multiple times a day because Emvisage digitizes all of the forms a company would regularly print out or email. Then, it sends it out for you. 

 

So, how can your company simplify its workflow? It’s easy. By using tailored-to-you systems and processes in the form of workplace management software. Just like we offer to creatives at Ditto, Emvisage creates a customized system for field companies. Workflow management software provides companies with the tools needed to make their company run smoother and easier. But first, you have to run a workflow audit.

 

4 Ways A Workflow Audit Helps

While speaking to Cameron on our podcast, the one thing he wanted all business owners to know is that workflow and processes are important. It’s worth spending the time to do a workflow audit. No matter if you’re using software or not, looking at your workflow can dramatically help your businesses. Here’s how workflows help:

 

Better Understanding of Process

If you’re not looking at how each task is being done in your business, you’re missing out on your processes. When you look at your workflow, you can better understand how your company is getting from A to Z. Watch the peanut butter sandwich being made.

 

Reduces Errors

When you look over your workflow, you can often see where the errors are coming from. For our PB&J, maybe they’re using too much peanut butter. Or, it can be something serious, like maybe they’re forgetting the peanut butter altogether. Using workflow management software greatly reduces future errors.

 

Reminds Everyone Of Their Roles

Many times, employees end up taking on roles that they hadn’t originally had. Or, they end up micromanaging coworkers. When you map out the entire workflow process in an audit, employees are able to redefine their roles. (Don’t let the jelly person do the peanut butter job!)

 

Improves Efficiency

A workflow audit shows where things go wrong. You can then fix those issues and determine how to simplify the easy tasks. Imagine a machine making the PB&J - quick and done correctly each time! If you automate these repeatable tasks, your company becomes more efficient. 

 

Key Workflow Takeaways

  • Workflow is the start to finish process of a repeatable task
  • Workflow management software simplifies the workflow process
  • With or without software, a workflow audit is imperative to your company’s success

 

I really enjoyed my conversation with Cameron Milnes about the workflow process. I would encourage you to listen to the podcast episode to learn how he helps simplify the lives of business owners. 

 

Here at DITTO, we’re able to use systems and processes, team alignment, and technology implementation to help you get freedom from the day-to-day tasks that weigh you and your business down. We’d love to talk more about how we can help make your workflow process more efficient.