Organization has been one of the key factors in business successes for millennia; this is why subjects such as business process management made their way into various college class curriculum. And well thought out, strategic workflows are being placed into companies growing from very small to large. But the journey into productivity never ends! The next step in this never-ending search for optimum organization is the workflow app.
Workflow applications have been surging up over the last decade, and it would seem they are here to stay, because they work. Workflow apps are an online, mobile or in-browser software that employees can access from anywhere in the world. What it does, is it takes all delegation out of emails and verbal communication and puts tasks into a list for each employee to work from. Leaving the desirables clear, the due dates unambiguous, and it creates a platform where managers can speak with employees about every single task individually without the hassle of sifting through emails and chat logs.
But, let’s take a look at some of the big reasons why workflow apps are taking the field in helping managers get better control over delivery dates, and task completion.
1. A workflow app keeps workflows truly in check!
The great things about business process management is that it gets everything in order. Or does it? After business processes are put into place, creating workflows, everything seems to be going to plan, managers are delegating tasks through the right processes, and employees are following what needs to be done. However, just like everything else in the world, it’s always better on paper.
What becomes a one-time exception of a “special request” from a manager in another department, disturbing the workflow becomes common place. People who were originally in charge of parts of the workflow get promoted or move on to other opportunities and are replaced with people who are unsure what to do in respects to the broken workflow, if they are informed of it at all.
Allow me to share an example from my personal life. Some time ago I used to work in operations and I had many things going on all at once. One day one of the directors of the company I worked for came up to me and made the request that I stitch together all of his sales information into a PowerPoint and print copies (in a very confusing/time consuming method I might add) for a presentation later that day. Well, the first time he asked I saw his assistant was out and I didn’t have much to do so I obliged. This one time request became a common occurrence when his assistant was busy doing other things. Only this time I wasn’t free, and my own boss had more pressing things for me to take care of. Needless to say, workflows got very crisscrossed and tempers were raised and I felt overwhelmed, the simplification of work processes was just not there anymore.
Workflow apps change all of that. By putting workflows onto a physical platform, not only can new managers get a better overview of the system. But, by breaking down the workflow and getting the physically installed into the running’s of the company, will stop other managers from simply sidestepping the workflows that everyone should be following, and instead have to go through the processes i.e. asking a team members manager if an additional task can be assigned.
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2. Priorities are sorted out and stress goes down.
Ever found yourself in a situation where you didn’t know which of your many tasks holds the highest precedence? Maybe you have emails coming in left and right from multiple people all marked with “High priority!!” This is another one the large problems facing standard workflows.
Even if workflows are running at optimum efficiency there are rarely fail-safes put in place for an employee’s manager to show them where their priorities and abilities should be focused. Rather, more often than not the tasks run rampant, deliverable start becoming more and more substandard
Using a workflow app like Runrun.it takes the pressure of putting what priorities actually come first from the hands of the employee and put back into the hands of the management. Management can go into each employee’s tasks lists and order out in what order tasks need to be done. If priorities change, then the manager can get back in there and change the priorities accordingly. After all, they know where the priorities really lie. “From an information standpoint, your boss knows more about upper management priorities so is in a better position to decide this.” Writes Caroline Ceniza-Levine from Forbes.com
3. Workflow apps help in eliminating bottlenecks.
In a factory setting, bottlenecks create a big problem with production, but they can be spotted easily, only two questions need to be answered, where is production stopping?, and why (usually a machine or person)? Although bottlenecks can also be a more complex issue when it comes to project management. Bottlenecks are often the thorn in the side of many projects, even more so in larger companies. All too often tasks lists get filled with many prerequisite tasks for many different projects. This causes multiple projects to get snared in their progress, and then come all the setbacks. What is possibly the largest headache associated with these bottlenecks is that they are at times very difficult to track down.
The problem that workflows cannot solve is that, bottlenecks are more a human error than a workflow error. “Many workflow bottlenecks are human-error rather than procedural mistakes; all too often, the actions of our coworkers (or lack thereof) cause the process to spring a leak. We frequently need data, additional materials, or approval from another person before we can proceed with our piece of a project.” Says Laura Stack from Productivemag.com
The best way to solve these bottleneck issues is being able to get a physical, birds eye view of all tasks in the flow, and where they are stuck. Manager urgently need this view more and more as demands are increasing. Workflow apps can offer this power to project manager with ease.
For example in Runrun.it managers have a constant overview of all projects at all times, getting live updates if projects are going to delay, or if they have already passed the deadline. With these alerts, in an instant, managers can scan over all of their team’s tasks one-by-one or by using the built in Gantt chart view of all projects. See where the bottlenecks are and redistribute tasks accordingly.
4. A Workflow app keep teams focused on where it matters most, and not follow-up
Oh how much I used to have to constantly follow up with my managers in order to get onto the next task in my project. Constant following-up with management consumes more time than you think. Company workflows are nice but there are often times when employees get stuck up on a task and seek out management for an issue, or write a swift email and wait for a response. When it seems that emails are the most effective way to follow up they can actually be counter productive.
Alice Default from Entrepreneur.com adds‘’ Spending a lot of time in your inbox is necessary if your job is specifically to answer emails. However, if it isn’t, dealing with messages should take as little time as possible. Maybe checking your email every five minutes, writing the same replies over and over again and organizing your inbox manually just isn’t the best way to do that.”
The trick is simplify everything. While workflows in general were meant for this purpose, there are still hang-ups that can really put pressure on productivity.
For example, let say you are finishing a task but your boss needs to approve the work because it is going to be used in the next part of the project. You think it looks good but you end up taking some time sending emails to your boss to get approval. Now maybe your boss is busy with another task or following up with someone else. So you end up having to wait, unsure about the progress into your next task. In the end you lose time writing emails and asking for approval from your boss, and your manager loses time writing and email back saying what needs to be done.
By using a workflow app following up is as easy as pressing a button, and moving onto your next task in the list while waiting for approval. And when using a workflow app like Runrun.it there is no need to put so many emails out there in the air. Each task inside the software has an area where files can be uploaded and chats are live and recorded.
5. Increased hiring accuracy
One of the biggest problems managers face, is knowing when and if they need to get more employees in certain departments or if they don’t need to. It is at time a very cost/time sensitive issue and presenting it to upper management can get a little awkward if the only thing we have in hand is the mere statement of “we need more programmers”. Another great reason to get a workflow app built in over your current workflows is that it helps managers know exactly where more hiring needs to be done. There are so many things that can attribute to unnecessary hiring, such as: to stop procrastination, priorities in the wrong tasks, etc.
A workflow app helps managers solve this problem and puts solid information right into their hands. By taking all the tasks necessary and spreading them out across the team managers it is possible to see things from a few different aspects. They can see how much time these set of tasks are going to take vs. how much time each employee has to work on the item inside of the projects given time. If there is a pattern of delays due to raw unavailable manpower, this would be evidence needed to justify hiring the right amount of people.
Managers can also track how much employees of a certain team spend working on each task, if each task is taking longer than expected managers can decide to dig in a bit deeper to discover what is going on. It could be a need of more training, re-evaluation of how long these tasks should take, or maybe the employee simply had issues getting motivated. Not knowing these answers before making a new hire can cause problems for your department, especially if there are more people than necessary on the team.
The best workflow app to have in the workplace
I mentioned a few of its features above in this post, but Runrun.it is a workflow app that generates a foundation for effective communication. It allows for managers to keep track of project and tasks through just a few simple clicks. Attach files to tasks, spell out the details, get reports, the whole 9 yards – Gantt included. By streamlining paperwork, Runrun.it increases productivity and provides a home base for employees and supervisors to apply their business conversations. It’s great for managers who want to have a live feed of their projects and overall business.
Runrun.it, the best way to automate your workflows
Check out Runrun.it – the software that dispenses email for internal communication because it centralizes the tasks of all teams and reduces the number of follow-up meetings and the friction between leaders and teams by producing automatic activity reports. Try it free here.