In almost any service-based industry, there can be a high level of repeatability from project to project. Whether that comes in internal processes, documentation, or project initialization, many processes share steps throughout their lifecycles.
How an organization approaches these repeatedly encountered business stages is often referred to as its workflow.
For instance, in the case of Copper Mobile, we have an established, rigorously tested and adapted workflow for the initialization of any mobile solutions project.
We have an integrated workflow for project management once we’ve kicked it off, as well as an equally integrated, crucial workflow for quality assurance throughout every planning, design, development and testing stages.
Establishing predictable, efficient and ultimately successful workflows is the hallmark of a well-run organization.
The enemy of the workflow is unpredictability. Sure, in any project there are curveballs thrown your way, and you have to creatively handle those, but the core of any successful project is a successful workflow.
If things are done differently from project to project, then your account reps don’t know how to manage their clients. Your project managers don’t know how to manage their constituents. Dependencies break down as does communication.
That’s not to say you should become so set in your ways your workflows never change or adapt with the times. It’s the opposite of that, really. You have to have workflow oversight and improvement such that you can make use of newer best practices or technology when they make sense.
Establishing predicable and efficient workflows are just as important as your project at hand, because those workflows will dictate how you tackle every potential future project to come.
So how do you ensure you’re building effective, useful workflows?
Step one, don’t dictate those workflows from the top down. It should be a collaborative effort between management and employees.
For example, if you happen to work as a senior or executive producer in the media industry — and have for a long time — chances are you no longer know the intricacies of editing. Specifically, you’re probably not going to be fluent in the software modern editors are using to cut footage, apply special effects, etc. That’s not necessarily relevant for executive producers because their jobs are predicated upon a strong knack for which stories to pursue, assigning the right staff to pursue it, followed by providing solid direction to the editors once those editors have the story in the edit bay.
But, it wouldn’t be right for the EP to dictate the end-to-end workflow for producing a story from raw video — the EP doesn’t know everything required from the editor’s perspective to make it so, like which video codecs make sense for a given project, how to log and organize the raw footage efficiently and effectively, how to divide labor between editors, associate editors, etc.
When establishing the workflows for such a repeated process, management and their teams have to work together to develop and implement the most efficient, effective and fair protocols possible. This ensures buy in from workers and transparency for management.
This same principle applies to any business, regardless of industry. It is imperative when setting up endemic processes critical to present and future efficiency that you develop those processes with the deliverers in mind, not just the deliverables. They have valuable insight that will help guide the development of those workflows into consistent, repeatable performers. Plus, with the institutional buy in from employees, they’re far more likely to adhere to the workflow if they had a hand in crafting it.