What is a workflow? A simple guide to using workflows
By Steven Bennett
In a nutshell, workflows are a series of steps that are followed in a specific order to complete a task.
In a workflow, steps flow naturally from one to the next, advancing the work towards completion. These steps may require just one person and an application (A designer creating artwork in photoshop) or they could include multiple people and tools (A team working on a website with front and back end developers, UX designers and copywriters).
Workflows in everyday life
Workflows aren’t just for professional environments. Without realising it, you use workflows multiple times throughout the day. A simplified example could be making toast:
- Take a slice of bread
- Place the bread in a toaster
- Remove the toast and place on a plate
- Butter your toast
- Cut your toast into triangles (I do at least)
- Eat your toast (If British like me with a cup of tea)
From making a cake to driving a car, many of the everyday tasks we perform that have sequential set of connected steps, could technically be classed as workflows.
Why do we use workflows?
We use workflows because they make tasks more predictable, efficient and in some cases, are the only practical way of completing a task.
By planning out and using workflows in your business we can turn common tasks, both simple and complex, into efficient predictable routines.
Workflows in a professional environment
Workflows are used heavily in professional environments for the same reason we use them in everyday life. Their practical and efficient nature improves processes used in a variety of areas from sales and marketing through to creative and financial processes.
For example, in a video production environment a basic workflow may include the following steps:
- Decide on a potential topic
- Research the topic
- Write a script
- Shoot the video
- Edit the video
- Render the video
- Post the video to a video hosting site
As you can see in this example, each step needs to be worked through in a specific order for the project to be successfully completed.
If you were to add more details to this process you may even require a workflow within a workflow. Using the example above, it may be required that there is a separate workflow dedicated to the editing stage. in this situation you may decide to dedicate a separate workflow to the editing stage that contains steps for cutting the video, adding effects and colour grading.
Why should you create workflows?
If you run a business and work on projects, jobs or other multistep tasks, workflows can transform the way for you to manage your time, team responsibilities and productivity.
By creating workflows, you can simplify complex tasks into a format that everyone involved understands. This can save you both time and money whilst giving you a blueprint format that can be replicated and measured effectively.
Using workflows can also help you with the task of pricing jobs. Due to the standardised format and relative predictability of a well-designed workflow time, responsibilities and costs can be measured and predicted with more accuracy.
What should not be classed as a workflow?
If you are performing tasks that are unconnected and work in isolation they shouldn’t be bundled together and classed as a workflow. Working with tasks like these sites more in a task management environment.
For a series of tasks to be classed as a workflow the general rule is, they need to be connected and flow together through a sequential order.
You and workflows
As you can see workflows can be extremely valuable for your business. They allow you to save time and money, increase productivity, provide clarity to you, your team and clients and make your jobs and projects much more predictable, efficient and manageable.
Using workflows in Bloom Cube
Bloom cube allows you to create custom workflows that can quickly be assigned to your jobs and projects making them more manageable, transparent and efficient. Once assigned you can see the flow of your workflow through checklist, Gantt chart or calendar views.
Getting the best out of your workflows
To get the most out of your workflows the following steps are recommended:
- Discuss your current and future workflows with your team to make sure they work and are understood by everyone
- Streamline your workflows by removing any unnecessary steps
- Create a separate workflow for each repeating task that follows a common range of steps
If you have any questions about workflows or would like to know more please get in touch today. We would love to hear your comments, suggestion and queries so that we can improve our system and make it better for our community of small business owners and freelancers.