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Anatomy of Workflows - What are they, really?

25th Apr 2022
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Logical Office replaces manual effort and streamlines client service.

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Every business uses workflows, whether they know it or not!

A workflow is a procedure to process work, so everybody does it.

However methods vary dramatically.

HUMAN WORKFLOWS

Employees usually develop their own procedures to get the job done.

This might be a combination of software like Excel and other manual techniques.

It’s their personal system.

One thing is certain: no two employees will get the same job done in the same way.

Does it matter?

There are flaws.

What happens when they’re not working? Can deadlines get missed? It’s unlikely that everybody uses the “perfect” system. Staff expenses are usually the biggest overhead.

COMPUTER WORKFLOWS

Computer workflows stick to a system with clockwork efficiency. They’re cheap.

They don’t get bored, sick or go on holiday.

The problem is - they’re dumb.

Artificial intelligence isn’t here yet.

So workflows need to be programmed.

One programmer’s design may suit one firm, but be totally unsuitable for another.

ANATOMY OF COMPUTER WORKFLOWS

All work is at a certain stage, or status.

Every job is either waiting to begin, in progress, or finished.

Within these three simple statuses there are many more.

An Audit job for a 50 user firm may have more than 30 statuses.

At each status (or stage of the job) action must be taken e.g. “Request the books”.

Sending an email requesting the books at a certain time before or after a date is easy.

Why waste employee time with such a simple task when software can do it?

To achieve this simple task several things are essential:

  1. A database of jobs with dates and statuses;
  2. Templates for workflows to send;
  3. Actions to be taken.
  4. Business logic for different circumstances e.g. sending a tax liability advice might need a different email for zero and negative liabilities.

Defining all this for all your jobs is a good reason to avoid it!

It takes time.

It’s faster to use “off-the-shelf” workflows to process regular endlessly recurring jobs.

Such workflows might not fit your staff structures and methods.

A larger firm my send accounts to the tax manager to review, whereas a smaller firm may not have a tax manager.

So smaller firms need fewer statuses.

The solution: a workflow for every status.

If statuses, don’t apply then just delete them, leaving the perfect set of statuses for your firm.

A pre-written workflow comes with templates which you use “out of the box” or tailor to suit yourself.

User actions appear automatically for every status, but only to fit your requirements.

When the status becomes “Books Received” the action to process the job appears in the action list of the person assigned to the job.

Completing the action can move the status on.

Real-time workflows do work immediately.

If your preference is to send an email acknowledging receipt, then this gets done in a split second without users having to lift a finger.

“I don’t want emails going out automatically before I’ve checked them” is a common mantra.

Draft emails appear in action lists to be edited before clicking send.

REDUCING THE LOAD ON STAFF

So what jobs can workflows do?

They check lists and when the time is exactly right, request periodical information.

If the status doesn’t change from “Records Requested” and time passes, they chase.

If more time passes, they eventually (at a time specified by you) create actions to chase personally.

Workflows also:

  • Send acknowledgement receipts
  • Update key dates on every job
  • Send documents to be e-signed
  • Encrypt and send files
  • Upload sets of accounts to client portals
  • Send emails with attachments
  • Create next period jobs
  • Check for accurate data
  • Raise invoices and send them to clients
  • Auto-Bill clients periodically

At Logical Office we’ve spent years perfecting flexible workflows.

They release staff to do more rewarding, interesting and profitable work.

They form a system for all users.

They streamline boring, repetitive administration.

Which is why some of your competitors are using them.

Shouldn’t you?

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Contact us at [email protected]