Looking for a workflow management system?
Project management is part art and part knack. Thankfully we have distanced ourselves from the obsolete systems of project management which have been rather costly, inefficient, confusing and frankly too cumbersome to deal with all together.
The biggest problem has been the generality of the solution that used to be offered to all through these hardware-bound systems. ‘One size fit all’ tendency has never really worked, and evidently fails to acknowledge organizational scale and scope. But thankfully the world of project management solutions underwent a positive transition. Software applications have come a long way to offer a lot more customization and ease of use, making them a much better fit for different sized organizations than before — be it startups or MNCs.
Much of the credit can be extended to the openness of the internet which has shored up many prodigious undertakings from the project management circle, including some exciting propositions from the world of apps.
The premise hasn’t changed in all these years. Organizations still flock to project management solutions for improving work productivity, building structure for a wide scope process and bringing clarity to the whole undertaking in general. However, the means of achieving it has undergone quite a bit of renovation.
Here’s how you understand a modern day project workflow management system (WMS):
Most modern day workflow systems are typically based on ‘petri net’ modeling technique for a distributed system of work. In simple words, it is a workflow system which helps clearly enlist all the events that occur in a project, the places at which they occur, and flow of movement people and tasks. So, given access to a tool like this, an organization stands to gain a lot in terms of designing efficient operational capabilities that help boost productivity across functional verticals.
For example, you can put in place a workflow that automates an entire process or aspects of a business process, say, the quarterly marketing campaign planning activity — taking into accounts aspects like sending notifications to team members, creating task lists, scheduling legal approvals etc.
But before you embark on a Google search looking for a workflow management system for yourself, pay attention to the key specs of the service to determine how best you can leverage the capabilities of the said WMS.
What to look for in a workflow management tool
If a workflow can help you capture entire activity chain and represent the entire flow of a project visually, that’s half the job done right there. A simple visual representation of a workflow — say for a recurring marketing campaign project — helps roll out the project seamlessly in the fraction of a time it would take for you roll out the scheme of things manually.
The whole idea of a workflow system is to allow everyone involved in the process clearly understand their roles and KPIs. A good WMS should provide for role based access, flexibility in modification of tasks without disturbing the scheme of events themselves.
Are you familiar with the concept of Gantt Chart? It is basically a system of scheduling and mapping the flow of events. Quite often more than one task must function in tandem, for; other tasks may depend on the outcomes of these simultaneously occurring efforts. A powerful workflow should allow you to account parallel processes so as to not limit the functionality on any level.
A good workflow tool should allow you to assign a role and modify these allocations seamlessly. Especially if you are working on a project that stands to last for a pretty long duration, it is likely you will have new people join the team and have some leave the team as well. An agile workflow is, therefore, essential to the cause — one which allows you to amend roles as per the requirements of the day.
The day when emails will be obsolete is still pretty far away. Until then, you would want to deploy a system that allows you to receive notifications about the progress of a task, pending activities, or changes in the flow of the events. After all, no wants to wake up to changes they never saw coming.
The whole and sole purpose of a workflow is to allow seamless functioning capability and more often than not multiple outfits get deployed to achieve the end — endless streams of documents, sheets, images and what not. It is advisable to seek a WMS that allows you to integrate file sharing capabilities so that less time is spent going and back forth between multiple applications.
This is the age of free work culture — where teams are dispersed geographically, often across different countries. When you have a system that can be accessed from anywhere and on any device — desktop or tablet — it becomes so much easier to collaborate despite time and space constraints. More so, it is cost effective to invest in a cloud-based project management system that is easy to set-up, easy to scale across an n number of teams and team members.
These are just baseline specifications that need to be kept in mind when looking for a workflow management system for your company or team. Ensure you opt for a tool that can be scaled and stretched, so that you can grow without worrying about the malleability of the system itself.
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