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The Workflow Analysis Guide: Benefits, Tips, and Tools

It's normal to get frustrated with how long it takes to get things done in a team. Let's imagine you work in the marketing department, and it takes two days for the design team to acknowledge receipt of a new design request and three to five days for them to deliver the completed work, which may need rounds of revisions, delaying the entire process even further.

Conducting a workflow analysis on this process would help uncover the inefficiencies in the workflow process, cut off unnecessary tasks and redundancies, and create a more efficient and effective workflow.

Let’s go over all you need to know about conducting workflow analysis: key benefits, how to improve and ensure your analysis is efficient, and tools you can use.

What Is Workflow Analysis?

Let's define workflows before delving into all things analysis-related: A workflow is a series of steps and actions required to complete a project or business process.

Building on this definition, workflow analysis is the process of examining team and organizational workflows and business processes to improve and make them more efficient and cost-effective. 

The workflow analysis process requires going through each step in a workflow and identifying areas in need of process improvements, such as obsolete legacy systems, redundant tasks, inefficient workstations, and recurring bottlenecks that hinder efficiency. 

4 Benefits of Conducting a Workflow Analysis

Workflow analysis: team putting their hands together

The main purpose of conducting workflow analysis is to improve existing business processes and design automated workflows to support team members in fulfilling their responsibilities. Offloading manual, redundant, or repetitive tasks creates more time for the team to work on critical aspects of the business. There are many other significant benefits of workflow analysis.

1. Improves Operational Efficiency

Every business process management (BPM) practice, including workflow management, aims to improve operational efficiency in an organization. This means planning, tracking, and adjusting aspects of the work process that need improvement to make all work and project management highly efficient.

Workflow analysis helps spot tasks and business processes in need of optimization or automation to create more improved workflows and greater team and organizational efficiency. Workflow automation also handles tasks like data entry, updates, and handoffs, minimizing human error as much as possible.

2. Aligns Company Goals With Operational Tasks

Conducting regular workflow analysis ensures the organization's larger goals align with the day-to-day operational activities. It makes sure plans, projects, and programs are executed as intended.

Leadership and management teams can easily use visual communication tools like flowcharts and workflow diagrams to illustrate and communicate big ideas and company goals. Project managers and team leads can further break those down into actionable tasks and steps to be completed on a timeline leading up to achieving the eventual company-wide goals.

3. Saves Costs

Inefficient workflows can easily cost your company and stakeholders a lot of money. Workflow analysis helps save costs by making business processes more efficient, reducing the cost of completing each task. Minor improvements in a business workflow can save significant operational costs, especially when it's a recurring task that is often performed in the course of business operations. 

Workflow automation takes care of manual and repetitive tasks, freeing employee time and resources. An example of an avoidable operational cost is staff members taking hours every week to create and distribute a report stakeholders rarely glance through. 

Workflow analysis would reveal this waste, and business process automation would help create automated workflows that can extract and compile the necessary data to create and distribute this report on a schedule without human effort.

4. Creates Competitive Advantage

Workflow management systems generate and compile massive amounts of hard data on an organization's core tasks and business operations. This data, both real-time and historical, provides a rich archive of insights that can serve as benchmarks and metrics with which to measure future performance.

If analyzed and utilized well, operational data may also reveal patterns and ideas to create more efficient workflows and innovative systems that can set a team or organization apart from its competitors. The advancements that come from regular workflow analysis can significantly increase a company's revenues and the overall customer experience.

3 Steps to Conduct Efficient Workflow Analysis

Group of managers working together

Follow the steps below to conduct an efficient workflow analysis:

1. Evaluate Existing Workflows

When you analyze workflows, your goal is to find new approaches to streamline and optimize your organization's business processes by looking at the hard data and work performance results. You can start by asking the following questions:

  • Which are the critical tasks, and which are support functions?
  • How long does each take to be completed?
  • What is the minimum and maximum amount of time for the entire process to be done?

Talk to staff members who perform specific tasks. Ask about their experience and if recurring bottlenecks or workflow inefficiencies hinder their step-by-step progress. Confirm each team member understands their duties and how to perform them to the required standard. 

Also, check that they use the organization's workflow software systems to ensure you're automatically gathering valuable data and insights about how work and projects actually progress.

2. Analyze Data and Feedback You've Gathered

Study the data you've gathered about the different business workflows and processes:

  • Why is each step and action in the business process necessary?
  • Which workflow software systems are used, and which ones have been ignored?
  • How are KPIs and metrics measured?
  • How many handoffs are required to complete a business process? Can you use automation software to handle the handoffs?
  • Where do the bottlenecks occur in the workflow? Bottlenecks could be caused by team members, your workflow management system, or specific workflow software.

This stage forms the crux of your workflow analysis. Here, you review past BPM initiatives to ensure they still support new workflows, business processes, and systems. Are the old business rules creating obstacles and inefficiencies in your new workflows? If so, how can you eliminate them without breaking the new process?

Document your current workflows and the feedback you've gathered from team members. This is called the “As-Is” state of your workflows and business processes. Review every step and task. Remove those that do not add value, automate the ones that take up time and give low value, and streamline or combine interdepartmental teamwork.

3. Test and Continuously Improve Workflows

At this point, you have enough information to develop improved, efficient workflows. But the workflow analysis process is never completely over.

For continuously improving business results, it is wise to conduct regular workflow analysis reviews. Also, update your business tools and processes to keep up with technological advancements and delight your customers.

Conduct Workflow Analysis and Improve Business Processes With Pulpstream 

Want a platform that will do all of this for you? Pulpstream's business process management software simplifies the entire workflow management process, offering easily customizable no-code workflow software and analysis tools that fit into your existing systems.

Using Pulpstream, you can schedule regular workflow analysis and improve business processes using Pulpstream's "pop-in" functionality, making it easy to edit, create, and deploy improved workflows without code. You can also set dynamic logic, triggers, and business rules and take advantage of editable templates to avoid reworking entire workflows and business processes.

Are you ready to streamline, optimize, and transform your organization's processes? Get started today with a free demo of Pulpstream.