How to evaluate workflows

Well-thought-out workflows are more important than ever

12. October 2020In ConsultingBy Karsten Risseeuw7 Minutes

Starting signal and continued development

You can look at everyday working life from different angles. One perspective is that of the workflow. Workflows are the routes one takes to achieve a good result with the present challenges. Often workflows are created on the basis of experience. There was once a beginning for this, a starting signal so to speak. Ever since then, the work process needs to prove its worth. Does it? It probably does for a while, but does a workflow also prove itself over a longer period of time?

As an example: There are still companies that create important workflows based on Excel lists. Others, however, have suitable software systems in use. Those who switch from Excel to a database solution, for example, do this to optimize existing workflows. Although both solutions (Excel on the one hand and database solutions on the other) often work, there are big differences. If one relies on database solutions, this often results in considerable time savings and it can also be worked on in a team, for example.

How we work is not set in stone. It was determined at some point, based on the requirements and possibilities at the time. Since then, workflows have to prove themselves in ever new situations until the solution no longer meets the requirements or better methods and approaches become available.

Gaining some distance

Technology is nothing but a means. That is why technology should not be overrated. Work processes can only be illustrated with the help of technology. However, creating good workflows requires analysis and careful consideration. To do this, it is often helpful to take a few steps back and look at the everyday challenges from a distance.

From a distance, you can see processes better. Questions can be asked. Are there known obstacles? Where are the most likely to get stuck? Are there new requirements that are not included? What is done by hand? These and other questions serve to evaluate the existing processes. Concrete requirements simplify the considerations. However, regular evaluation can also be used as an indicator of the health of current systems.

An important question is, for example, where is the experience available? It may lie with the employees, but what happens when employees leave? If this leads to the loss of important expertise, this is a tangible risk for the company. How can such a risk be minimized? Suitable workflows can aim to make essential building blocks of experience available to the entire team – for example, through suitable database systems.

Evaluation is not about starting from current success, but rather to look for possible weaknesses. These can be seen as valuable feedback for the development of better workflows.

Change is the constant

Work processes are usually made possible by technical aids. However, they are not identical. If the technology changes, this can have a very positive influence on the workflows. The prerequisite for this is, of course, that existing workflows are occasionally evaluated. Suggestions can be obtained from colleagues, thanks to a coach or through reflection in the team.

I have been distributing software for over 25 years. It is exciting to see how hardware and software have developed and how completely new workflows have been created because of this.

10 years ago there were still many complex systems. Then came the smartphones with apps, often focused on a few tasks. That was a paradigm shift. It has changed the way we think about software or workflows. Modular approaches, Software As A Service (SAAS) and more and more cloud-based solutions were added.

Technically, many things have become more sophisticated. However, from the perspective of design, some things have been greatly simplified. Google came with a single search field for Internet searches. Apple reduced the complexity by an outstanding design. The English company Serif has so far released three software products for graphic designers that work together seamlessly (in the same interface). They called it StudioLink, a new approach to intuitive workflows.

The expandability of current solutions, through the integration of various web services, is demonstrated, for example, by the Apple subsidiary Claris with the product FileMaker Pro. What was once a database solution is now a development environment with a multitude of options. A single data format  runs on multiple platforms. In addition, there are now add-ons, completely new possibilities for FileMaker developers to integrate complex tools in a most simple way.

Markzware is currently renewing its product range. All the converting solutions were available in the last years only as Plug-In or XTension. Now they are gradually becoming stand-alone software products. To open documents from InDesign or XPress, these software solutions are no longer needed. All products from Markzware become independent software solutions and you can export to various formats.

Many things become easier. Translated with (free version)

Starting your own evaluation

Sometimes it helps to evaluate work processes together. Kursiv offers assistance for self-help. This can be consulting and evaluation of existing workflows, or project support, training or development of concrete solutions. You can find out more about this via the following link:

Further information: Kursiv Services