Yes, workflow management is not sexy.
But it is a crucial aspect of your business acumen: it makes your daily work life simple, establishes the ground rules for you and your team, and frees you time to concentrate on goals and objectives.
How you manage workflow is a deal-breaker. If your team doesn’t have an idea about the next step on the task list, you are probably doing a poor job. Unless everyone knows who to turn to when encountering a problem, something in your workflow management system is amiss.
You can never be too good with workflow management.
Let’s learn how to use the tricks from the best workflow tools out there to set up a system for any project.
Listen to the podcast below to find out how.
What is Workflow Management?
Workflow management is a structured way to coordinate and monitor tasks in organizations within teams and between team members. It can be synonymous with a business process in a way that it describes how smaller tasks combine into a larger task that consequently constitute a complete project.
To be good at managing teams across projects and tasks, you must be excellent at creating clear, optimized, and comprehensive workflows.
Workflow is an industrial term that finds its origin in automated manufacturing and administrative processes.
It is the sequence of steps that you use to take something — input, change it in some way, and create a new thing with improved characteristics or new benefits — output.
Sprints in the agile team structure are one example of a workflow system.
Types of Workflows
Simple workflows can be linear or circular.
In linear workflows, the last step indicates a complete process. In circular workflows, the last step precedes the first step in a continuous process.
Complex workflows can branch off in multiple directions, requiring you to keep an eye on many interactions that are not obvious at first glance. Sometimes, the only way to create a complex functional workflow is to use sophisticated workflow management software.
Characteristics of a Good Workflow
Before you get completely bored with workflow management, let us cover three key characteristics every effective workflow system must have:
- Clear. The sequence of workflow steps must identify the order of steps in the process in an unmistakable way. Anyone who encounters it for the first time (a new team member, for example) must understand the order and the direction of the process.
- Optimized. The workflow should have exactly the number of steps that complete the task in the most efficient way. Missing steps stop projects. Unnecessary steps create delays and chip away at your resources.
- Comprehensive. The workflow should include all necessary resources — time, people, and tools — to run smoothly and actually work for rather than against you.
Workflows can be but aren’t necessarily strictly hierarchical. Virtual team hierarchies require flexibility that works across time zones and for various teams. However, they still need to hold a firm structure that lets you monitor the workflow efficiently.
Why You need a Workflow Management System
A workflow management system provides the infrastructure you need to set up goals, monitor tasks, and track performance goals. To manage your organization’s workflows, you can use a self-developed template or sign up for many of the workflow management tools, depending on your work priorities.
Workflow tools can be project-related, team-related, customer-related. They can have multifold benefits. Many workflow management platforms are expensive and can pour money down the drain.
If you need help with setting up productive and efficient self-made workflows to work with freelance remote trams — give us a shout — we are happy to help!
Workflow Management Tools for Virtual Teams
Almost any popular software platform has some workflow management system.
Something as widespread as the Google Workspace (G Suite) lets you manage workflows and collaborate across the board, regardless of the size of your business.
- Jira. Project management tool for software teams that helps with efficient bug and issue tracking, and working on software issues from an organized dashboard.
- Salesforce. Customer journey workflow management tool for managing customer relationships with sales, marketing, and IT features.
- Zapier. Workflow integration tool that lets you create workflows among apps.
- Trello. Freemium workflow management and team collaboration tool with a dominant visibility component of specific tasks and deadlines.
- Microsoft Visio. Flowchart and diagram creation tool to organize elaborate datasets into manageable workflows
There are hundreds of workflow automation tools that can suit your individual team’s needs. However, it is not always easy and cost-effective to narrow down the choice to several essential ones. How can you make this decision quickly? By learning what makes an excellent workflow management system!
Benefits of Creating Custom Workflows for Virtual Teams
The disadvantages of poor workflow systems become painfully obvious when deadlines are missed, miscommunication happens, or no one knows the responsible person for a task.
Custom workflow systems have the following benefits:
1. Reduce specific errors.
When you generate a self-made workflow management template, you are a few steps ahead for your team; you can personalize steps, especially when quick changes happen in the disruptive virtual environment.
2. Eliminate redundant and obsolete tasks.
When you have a system, it is easy to see which tasks and steps eat your resources. It is even easier to adjust the workflow to changing requirements and incoming new clients.
3. Increase cross-organizational trust and transparency.
Workflow management systems serve as a binding element for team cohesion. Everyone knows what is happening on team projects and has a clearer picture of how individual efforts contribute to the greater whole.
4. Improve communication.
Missing to view workflow systems as a communication tool is a mistake. You can derive key information about your team, tasks they work on, and project progress from just one look at your custom workflows.
5. Transform work culture.
Finally, explicit workflows elicit culture transformation tools. They propel and drive projects forward, designed to move towards goals and incorporate team values and skills.
How much time do you spend organizing your daily schedule? Do you micromanage your team because you don’t have a functional workflow management system?
Let us help you design functional custom workflows to leave you more time for the sexy stuff—amazing products and services that will grow your team and business!