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5 workflow management tips to get ahead

All of us at monday.com

    You just finished planning an iteration, but more tasks are already knocking on your door.

    If each item seems more urgent than the one before it, it’s time to improve your workflow management.

    Whether you’ve realized it or not, every project your team works on has a workflow.

    Like a room full of spinning tops, your team members can either spin in sync, or bump into each other, setting each other off-course.

    A good manager will be able to coordinate and arrange workflows so that they each stay on path and work together smoothly.

    What is a workflow?

    A workflow is essentially the set of actions and tasks required to get an assignment or projects done. 

    Think of workflows like a recipe. Recipes tell you what ingredients and steps you need to take, but they don’t guarantee delicious results.

    But not all automated workflows are intentional, organized, and agreed upon.

    What is workflow management?

    Workflow management involves organizing and tracking your team’s workflows to make sure they produced the desired results as smoothly and effectively as possible. Management is the planning and delegating of each of these actions to achieve the best end results.

    In general, components of a workflow are details like:

    • What needs to be done
    • When it needs to be done
    • How it needs to be done
    • Who needs to do it

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    What is a workflow management system?

    A workflow management system provides a blueprint for the set-up, tracking, and monitoring of an outlined sequence of tasks, arranged as an organized workflow.

    Workflow management software offers a centralized, visual approach to managing business processes and task management. We’re here to help you find the right workflow management tool for you!

    To keep your work running smoothly, there is nothing quite like leaving behind your notepad and transitioning to an agile workflow management system.

    While there are many solutions on the market, we are big fans of what monday.com’s cloud-based Work OS has to offer, mainly because of the capability to customize workflow, its user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, and the many tools and features within, like time-tracking. Here are a few of the essential elements of a powerful workflow software:

    1. Workflow automation: why waste time doing mundane tasks when automated processes exist? Workflow management software takes automation to the next level.

    There is no need for team members to waste time on repeatable, menial tasks. Automation increases project efficiency ensuring employees can save energy to focus on the stuff that matters.

    Your HR team can use automation to make employee onboarding a breeze, with automatic emails and file submissions. In an editorial team, a content writer can submit a piece for approval, and workflow automation will send them a message that it was received, as well as what stage of the process it’s in.

    monday.com doesn’t just offer powerful workflow management and automation features. We also have ready-made templates for many different workflows.

    2. Collaboration: workflow management software allows your management team, or team as a whole, to collaborate and communicate in real-time.

    Whether through integrating an online chat function or tagging coworkers within a project, alerting team members in context saves all those inefficient back-and-forths (and often reply all!) emails.

    Workflow management software should also make it easy to share and create plans and documents across teams and stakeholders.

    3. Various view options: sometimes you want to visualize your workflows and processes in a list. Other times, a Gantt chart or Kanban board makes more sense.

    Workflow management software empowers users to see whatever view best suits their style — whenever. If you are using monday.com, you’ll be able to change up your view on the fly.

    The above are just a few examples of what makes for a powerful workflow management software, like monday.com!

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    Why does workflow management matter?

    All teams have workflows, whether they’re established or not. This is because even without an organized system around it, work gets done. But with that approach, both you and your team can only do so much.

    To lead your employees to do their best work, you need to carefully consider your workflows.

    When you first start doing so, the first thing you’ll likely notice is that confusion and mistakes are replaced by clarity and accuracy. When you’ve documented how different tasks need to be completed, there’s team-wide clarity around what work is being done, how, and by whom.

    Second, managing workflows more actively creates ownership, transparency, and accountability among your team. People know what they need to do, when, and how, so they can go off and independently do what’s needed. With strong workflows, you shouldn’t need to find yourself micromanaging.

    And finally, once your workflows are documented, you can easily adjust and optimize them.

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    The 5 workflow management tips you need

    So, ready to go from spinning top bumper cars to more of a synchronized symphony? To take control of your workflows and use them to empower your team to do better work, remember the following tips.

    1. Document everything

    Taking control of your workflows starts with creating a “single source of truth” around what they are in the first place. This means documenting them, writing them down to have on record. Start simple, and as you get more of a hold on things, you can add in details.

    When documenting your workflows, the most important details to nail down first are the specific tasks required, like:

    • Who will complete them: will there be multiple task owners? Are there any bottlenecks or dependencies to consider between owners?
    • When: what are the hard deadlines and will you be working in iterations?

    As you build out your workflow documentation more, you can add more information about the tasks like best practices, useful templates or resources, or anything else that helps your team complete the work at hand.

    split screen showing both a timeline view and Kanban board view within monday.com

    Once this is done, make sure your whole team has access to it regularly so they can reference information relevant to them as they complete their part of the workflow.

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    2. Consider relationships

    Once you’ve started documenting your workflows with your team, you’ll want to start considering the relationships and dependencies involved, both between the tasks and the team members completing them.

    This is where a poorly managed workflow creates a lot of confusion and stress.

    Sometimes, workflows will contain a series of tasks that can be completed in almost any order, or at least in a few stages. In others, everything needs to be performed in a very particular order.

    Going back to the podcast example, if an editor is ready to edit a podcast before the host has recorded it, that can create a bottleneck in the workflow.

    You might also have assets that need to be “carried” from one step to the next. From the same example, consider the podcast outline mentioned earlier that’s used in both the script and the show notes.

    These relationships are known as dependencies, where one stage of the workflow can’t “begin” until others have ended, they can’t be worked on at the same time. And when such dependencies exist, they’re crucial to make note of.

    3. Audit and adjust regularly

    The way your team works can and should change as you take on new projects, grow or shrink in size, start using new tools, and more. And as mentioned before, your workflow documentation should be your team’s “single source of truth.”

    That means it needs to be updated as steps, plans, and team members change. While you don’t need to tweak and edit your documentation every time a small detail is adjusted, you don’t want it to get so out of date that your team members can’t rely on it as a guide.

    A good goal to aim for is to perform a quarterly workflow audit, where you and your team discuss the current workflows and any updates, changes, or optimizations that should be made.

    4. Optimize

    Once you and your team start thinking about and following your workflows more, you’ll all continue to improve your skills.

    Both the skills required for the work itself, and your workflow management skills.

    Improvements will continue to become easier to find until your workflows are smoothly running machines, transporting your projects to completion and your team to success.

    5. Repeat

    Keep on iterating and save time by automating repetitive processes with monday.com!

    Try our platform now, the first two weeks are on us.

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