How to vastly improve workflow auditing
Part 1 of 2: Addressing common historical challenges
By Grant Bifolchi
As document management platforms continue to evolve, so must the workflows and processes within them. After all, workflows represent people, requirements, and outcomes—aspects of business that never remain static.
The question now becomes, “Where does one start?”
For the sake of this article, let’s look at workflow auditing pragmatically—breaking it into the parts that represent the human element, as well as the platform and subsequent automations.
First, the most critical factor is to account for all interconnected workflows. This confluence will expose areas of strength and weakness within the workflows themselves. For instance, as workflows interconnect, do they adequately “speak” to one another? Do they disrupt aspects of other workflows, or duplicate efforts or assets? This list will be the beginning of the road to improvement, by providing a list of what works and what requires attention.
Step two—correlate the workflows mentioned above to departments and people. Though many may see this as an obvious step, far too many organizations forget about the human element. The “flow” in workflow becomes the key to understanding the human side of the process. As workflows are audited, and the intersections become apparent, how do those connections ultimately affect users?
In this audit step, it is critical to garner honest user input. In fact, one of the best ways to promote transparency is to start via a survey. Ask users questions regarding ease-of-use, ease-of-augmentation, speed, potential system integration challenges, and so on—all designed to add clarity to the real-life aspects of workflow and automation.
For the next step, run what many refer to as “tabletop exercises.” This term is used frequently in the cybersecurity world—in short, it’s simply a test of people and systems in a controlled environment to assess real-world interaction.
In this case, organizations can run real-time experiments with users to validate inputs from previous steps and better understand how suggested changes may affect the organization, systems, etc. The best part is that controlled environment testing can force systems and processes to “break,” highlighting potential unforeseen issues, all without impacting live systems. This again adds to the list of improvements to be taken live at one’s own leisure.
Lastly, workflows and processes shouldn’t ever be viewed as something that operates in a vacuum. Concepts such as digital transformation, system integrations and data growth are all factors that will continue to impact all types of work environments.
Systems will change, data types will evolve, and the need for better analytics will always be front of mind. All these pressures have one thing in common—they are relentless. The vital lesson is embracing that change and making things better for everyone.