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Mastering your product delivery: a guide on workflow management

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Workflow is a managed flow in which your work goes from its inception all the way to its creation. This may sound easy at face value, but there are many moving parts that come in and out of the workflow process and before the workflow is even devised yet, there are many steps that come before it, for example devising the workflow strategy.

Mastering the delivery of a product is at its core most effective when workflow management is well structured and planned out. It can however provide to be challenging with so many moving parts and elements.

Read on and find some tips on how to master your product delivery through workflow management.

Consider holistic flows

Holistic workflows are used as tools to conceptualize the process of getting an idea off the ground and to its completion. They allow you to create roadmaps with a defined direction you want your product to take.

This approach is organised in various parts, starting with concept mapping, where the team are able to juxtapose different ideas and concepts to see how they link and intertwine with each other. After, the value chain process assigns value to those concepts so the overall goal of the product can be understood in monetary value.

The Lean Model Canvas and User Story Mapping are both processes where concepts and their applied value are defined within potential features of the product. The final step is Product Mapping, where the general timeline is mapped out and the approach is defined on how to complete the features of your tool.

Leona Klein, business writer at Essay Roo and State of writing tells us “Holistic workflows are all a little different from each other, but it’s designed to have transparency amongst your team and encourage input, so make the most of it if you have a quick-on-their-feet team ready to feed you ideas”.

Use a workflow management system

A workflow management system (WfMS) is a software programme that manages and optimizes workflows. Most workflow management systems come within packages of project management programmes, but they can be very useful too. These systems allow to create multiple workflows based on circumstances, roles and needs. They also tend to have automatization features that maximize the efficiency of each workflow. Tools like these not only make it easier to keep track of workflows but also creates a structure of prioritization and collaboration amongst different workflows.

Know when and where to use workflow management

You may not need workflow management for every single activity. Workflow management tends to work best when you’re dealing with fixed, repeated and predictable activities.

If you have a one-off, unique activity, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to use workflow management as the breakdown of workflows won’t be able to be used for other projects which will be essentially a waste of time.

Examples of repeatable activities that are good candidates for workflow management include gathering requirements, creating communication plans, onboarding employees and any other process within your business that requires a process with little variation throughout time.

Discover what type of workflow will be best for you

There are two main types of workflows broadly divided into two categories — sequential and state machine workflows. Knowing which workflow to use for which task will save you a lot of headaches and generally improve your efficiency!

Generally speaking, linear processes with fixed deadlines and predictable paths to completion are best defined in sequential workflows. Since the order of activities and their schedule is known, it is easy to map out the workflow as a sequence.

Chris Kad, a recruiter at Paper Fellows and Lia Help tells us- “ The two most commonly used sequential workflows are Waterfall and Critical Path. Workamajig supports both.”

Identify stakeholders and their roles

Once you’ve identified the activity and assigned it a workflow, the next step is to identify the stakeholders that will be participating in the activity. These can then be given functions within the workflow to optimize it. For example, you can have executive stakeholders, collaborative stakeholders and decision making stakeholders, all of whom should seamlessly work together within their roles to ensure effective workflow.

Collaborate with your stakeholders

Not only is it important to identify them and assign them to a workflow, but opening the table up for collaboration is important too. Don’t be afraid to bring in external stakeholders such as your clients, as they may offer useful insights in what they envision the project to be. With regards to internal stakeholders, it’s important to create a collaborative atmosphere so if there are any disagreements or mistakes, they can be swiftly discussed and dealt with without interrupting the workflow chain.

Spot redundancies within your workflows

This is a very common issue even the best agencies struggle with. Redundancies in the workflow are instances where they lead to nowhere. Alternatively, redundancies may create duplicates of another workflow or create activities that could be done simultaneously but are somehow done separately, consuming time and resources. Sifting through your workflows regularly will help you spot these inconsistencies and increase the productivity of your workflow overall.

Be sure to also communicate with your stakeholders as they’re your best and fastest chance of spotting redundancies. Don’t be scared to take their advice if they notice a certain process seems clunky or unnecessary. After all, stakeholders want their workflow to run as smoothly as you do!

In summary

Workflows are such an incredible tool to keep in your toolbelt knowledge. They can make processes transparent and help ensure products are built in a way that works best for the whole team. Even though the world of workflows may seem daunting and perhaps a little complicated at times, be sure to follow this guide to get your foot in the door and start implementing effective workflow management for product delivery in your business!

Discover more content on product delivery. For even more content on a range of product management topics, see our Content A-Z.

Workflow is a managed flow in which your work goes from its inception all the way to its creation. This may sound easy at face value, but there are many moving parts that come in and out of the workflow process and before the workflow is even devised yet, there are many steps that come before it, for example devising the workflow strategy. Mastering the delivery of a product is at its core most effective when workflow management is well structured and planned out. It can however provide to be challenging with so many moving parts and elements. Read on and find some tips on how to master your product delivery through workflow management.

Consider holistic flows

Holistic workflows are used as tools to conceptualize the process of getting an idea off the ground and to its completion. They allow you to create roadmaps with a defined direction you want your product to take. This approach is organised in various parts, starting with concept mapping, where the team are able to juxtapose different ideas and concepts to see how they link and intertwine with each other. After, the value chain process assigns value to those concepts so the overall goal of the product can be understood in monetary value. The Lean Model Canvas and User Story Mapping are both processes where concepts and their applied value are defined within potential features of the product. The final step is Product Mapping, where the general timeline is mapped out and the approach is defined on how to complete the features of your tool. Leona Klein, business writer at Essay Roo and State of writing tells us “Holistic workflows are all a little different from each other, but it’s designed to have transparency amongst your team and encourage input, so make the most of it if you have a quick-on-their-feet team ready to feed you ideas”.

Use a workflow management system

A workflow management system (WfMS) is a software programme that manages and optimizes workflows. Most workflow management systems come within packages of project management programmes, but they can be very useful too. These systems allow to create multiple workflows based on circumstances, roles and needs. They also tend to have automatization features that maximize the efficiency of each workflow. Tools like these not only make it easier to keep track of workflows but also creates a structure of prioritization and collaboration amongst different workflows.

Know when and where to use workflow management

You may not need workflow management for every single activity. Workflow management tends to work best when you’re dealing with fixed, repeated and predictable activities. If you have a one-off, unique activity, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to use workflow management as the breakdown of workflows won’t be able to be used for other projects which will be essentially a waste of time. Examples of repeatable activities that are good candidates for workflow management include gathering requirements, creating communication plans, onboarding employees and any other process within your business that requires a process with little variation throughout time.

Discover what type of workflow will be best for you

There are two main types of workflows broadly divided into two categories — sequential and state machine workflows. Knowing which workflow to use for which task will save you a lot of headaches and generally improve your efficiency! Generally speaking, linear processes with fixed deadlines and predictable paths to completion are best defined in sequential workflows. Since the order of activities and their schedule is known, it is easy to map out the workflow as a sequence. Chris Kad, a recruiter at Paper Fellows and Lia Help tells us- “ The two most commonly used sequential workflows are Waterfall and Critical Path. Workamajig supports both.”

Identify stakeholders and their roles

Once you’ve identified the activity and assigned it a workflow, the next step is to identify the stakeholders that will be participating in the activity. These can then be given functions within the workflow to optimize it. For example, you can have executive stakeholders, collaborative stakeholders and decision making stakeholders, all of whom should seamlessly work together within their roles to ensure effective workflow.

Collaborate with your stakeholders

Not only is it important to identify them and assign them to a workflow, but opening the table up for collaboration is important too. Don’t be afraid to bring in external stakeholders such as your clients, as they may offer useful insights in what they envision the project to be. With regards to internal stakeholders, it’s important to create a collaborative atmosphere so if there are any disagreements or mistakes, they can be swiftly discussed and dealt with without interrupting the workflow chain.

Spot redundancies within your workflows

This is a very common issue even the best agencies struggle with. Redundancies in the workflow are instances where they lead to nowhere. Alternatively, redundancies may create duplicates of another workflow or create activities that could be done simultaneously but are somehow done separately, consuming time and resources. Sifting through your workflows regularly will help you spot these inconsistencies and increase the productivity of your workflow overall. Be sure to also communicate with your stakeholders as they’re your best and fastest chance of spotting redundancies. Don’t be scared to take their advice if they notice a certain process seems clunky or unnecessary. After all, stakeholders want their workflow to run as smoothly as you do!

In summary

Workflows are such an incredible tool to keep in your toolbelt knowledge. They can make processes transparent and help ensure products are built in a way that works best for the whole team. Even though the world of workflows may seem daunting and perhaps a little complicated at times, be sure to follow this guide to get your foot in the door and start implementing effective workflow management for product delivery in your business! Discover more content on product delivery. For even more content on a range of product management topics, see our Content A-Z.