Tip Toeing Through Your Workflow

Pat McGrew
Oct 26, 2016

Efficiency Straight AheadIn this series we are looking at the world of workflow. Based on your feedback it is a hot topic, especially during the budgeting season. One thing that emerged from the conversations is that we are all using the word workflow, but we don’t all mean the same thing. For some of us it refers to a tightly defined set of processes, while for others it covers the business and production processes within a specific application set, like commercial print or packaging. All of these definitions are accurate, but to have the conversation we need to be able to share our expectations about all of the things that workflow covers.
One way to identify what you mean by workflow is to look at how the term is used in your organization, and to review your documentation of the workflow components. This is the next item in the Workflow Quiz. Start with the workflow documentation you have.

Workflow: The repeatable and auditable tasks, events, and processes used to consistently move work from job onboarding through to completion. Some or all tasks may be automated toward the goal of super-efficiency and predictability in production and supply chain management.

You may have discovered that there is not much documentation available. Don’t panic! Working together we can get you on the road to a well-documented workflow. The first step is to locate what you have available. That may be in the form of vendor manuals, internal strategy documents, workflow diagrams, internal system architecture presentations, or even an assortment of internal emails. This might sound odd, but print out anything you have in email form, and at least the opening pages of any longer documents.

Find a long table and lay the documents out in the order they occur in your process along a continuous line, and lay out any diagrams or architectures so you can see them. With this world view you should be able to see all the touchpoints and all the software used to manage your production. Where are the holes? Is some of the vendor documentation missing? Is what you have up-to-date? Can you identify written procedures for moving a job through the business from beginning to end? In addition to using them for this exercise they will help as you add new staff members.

If the answer is yes, congratulations! You are going to be ready to take the next step which will be covered in the next blog post.

If the answer is no, there is some work to do. It is worthwhile work that will lead to the optimization of the business so put in time and effort.

Take a picture of that long table. You’ll want it! Next time we take the leap into identifying some of the more granular touch points.

The workflow quiz is in full swing! If you have stories to share reach out to me! @PatMcGrew on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or Pat.McGrew@InfoTrends.com all reach me.

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