At WizeHive, we talk about workflows all of the time. I had heard of the concept before working here, but never had a clear understanding of its many applications. To me a workflow was a series of steps to complete a process. Seemed pretty straightforward. Turns out there are many types of workflows and some are more complicated than others. Here are two examples to give you an idea:
Having always been on the applicant side of the equation, I felt workflows for hiring, scholarships or any other application form was simple enough. In most cases, applicants first pass a preliminary process. Then, they are interviewed with the process ending in an offer (hopefully).
It isn’t quite so easy.
When setting up an application process, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Managing and organizing all of the applications/applicants through the lifecycle of the process is a massive amount of data. There are resumes from each applicant, emails, supporting documents and recommendations.
- Collaboration and communication on all reviews is time consuming and confusing. It is difficult to sort through applications to assign the right amount to each reviewer, and to standardize the review process across judges.
- Notifications and accurate messaging are time sensitive following a decision. Applicants want instant answers and those answers should be standardized across all messaging.
Everybody hates them.
When I was an IT consultant, I had to fill out expense reports once a week. It sucked. I would print out a spreadsheet with my expenses, attach receipts, and then my project supervisor would sign my sheet along with my coworkers’ sheets and snail mail the bundle into accounting. This is how it worked across the entire company.
The workflow for accounting must have been a nightmare. Processing paper packets once a week from over 100 global consultants would have taken an enormous amount of time, plus manually deciding what expense reports were either approved, questioned or declined. The time it takes means that employees had to wait a few months to be reimbursed for expenses that weren’t standard.
These are just two of many types of workflows. While reading them, you may have thought about what you can do to save time by cutting out steps, or different workarounds. By automating workflows, you save time by telling the computer what to do in specific situations, then having it manage the workflow for you.