March 8, 2022

What Is Workflow: The Key To Workplace Improvements In 2022

Understand the difference between workflow and processes to optimize your customer experience  

Many times workflow and process are used interchangeably to describe the same thing, however, process and workflow differ in many key ways. Understanding the differences and how processes and workflow affect the productivity of your organization is a crucial step in making the changes needed to keep up in a fast-moving business world. This is especially true for CX and operations teams, as the difference between a good and great customers experience can make or break a company in 2022. 

What Is Workflow: Definition? 

Workflow is the repeated pattern of activity that begins with a problem or task to be completed, then uses the companies resources, and ends with the desired outcome such as providing a service, processing information, or transforming materials. All sectors of work have their own workflow. All of these activities are necessary to complete the task and each step in a workflow has a specific step before it and a specific step after it, excluding the first.

For example, CX and operations teams may start with a query about the delivery rate of a package. The customer problem is, “when will my package be delivered?”. The workflow will then follow a pattern of activity such as locating the correct packages, identifying the location, and measuring a realistic time frame for the arrival of the package. These tasks will be complicated with various software, such as a CRM or knowledge base.

Workflows are important because a good workflow can be used to streamline and automate repeatable tasks, reducing risk ad minimizing room for errors, and increasing overall efficiency. 

How to recognize a workflow 

Understanding what your CX team's workflow is for completing tasks is the first step to optimizing your workflow. Workflow can look different at times, some being structured while others are unstructured, but workflows exist anytime data moves from one task to another. 

Below are three types of workflows that you may be used within a workspace: 

Process Workflow

Process workflows are predictable. They follow the same structure anytime they are completed with very few or no deviations. Before you begin the workflow process, you understand the exact path it will take. These workflows are easy to understand and therefore, automate. However, remember to review the process workflows for any possible improvements. Because they are predictable, they are also in danger of becoming outdated as new tech emerges. 

Case Workflow

With a case workflow, the workflow is unknown and therefore unpredictable. For example, customer support tickets cannot always be automated as some will need to be investigated for the workflow path to become obvious. Like process workflows, case workflows can handle a high number of items however are reliant on a human to discern the correct path. 

Project Workflow

Project workflows lie somewhere between a case workflow and a process workflow. Like a process workflow, they have a structured path however there may be more flexibility with that path. For example, launching a new website will follow a somewhat-predictable path. However, project workflows are only good for one item, or project, as launching another website may not be done for a long time and will not follow the exact same path as the previous workflow. 

Final note: Workflow is always the same data moving between tasks; unrelated and disconnected tasks (such as your horse chore list: making the bed, washing the dishes, doing the laundry) is not a workflow, but task management. For it to be a workflow, the tasks must be connected in a way to be part of something larger. 

Are Workflows and Processes the Same Thing?

The short answer is no, workflows and processes are not the same things. These terms are often used interchangeably because workflows and processes both exist in the space between problems arising and the problem being solved. However, processes is a broader term that includes the data, reports, notifications, and forms required to get an item from start to finish in a structured environment. For example, the workflow for a customer product return may be Initiator => Manager Approval => Return Processing. The process however also involves proof of purchase, the individual sequential number assigned to the purchase order, credit card information, and many more factors. Workflow often sits within CX and operations processes. 

Should you focus on processes or workflow? 

When deciding on if you should focus on processes or workflow, the first question you need to ask yourself is ‘what is the outcome you’re looking for?’. In many cases, the answer is actually, both. Analysis of both processes and workflows is needed for CX improvements to take place.

Fin’s Work Insights Platform is a turnkey solution that enables you to deep dive into both your processes and workflows to isolate factors within both that may be causing issues. These could be bottlenecks within the workflow due to outdated software or security processes not being implemented correctly which is leading to data breaches. It may very well be that both your workflow and processes are in need of an update as new technologies emerge every year, if not every month. Because Fin is a browser-plugin, it is end-to-end with all Saas applications and actions taking place within your browser, which is crucial for process and workflow analysis 

This information is then gathered in an easy-to-understand dashboard, enabling CX team leaders and operations managers to make decisions backed by data and prove ROI. If you would like to know more about how Fin can help you improve your workflow and your processes, get in touch with our experts or book a free demo today.

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