Depending on the field you are in, there can be many different types of workflows which will be more or less applicable in various situations. At the end of the day however, they all boil down to basically the same thing, workflows are processes of sequential steps or events which see tasks completed and responsibility transmitted forward to the next stage of the project.
As a project manager, workflows can be extremely helpful for developing a set of standardized systems which are easy to implement in new projects and teach to new team members. While many of us will already be implementing workflows whether we realize it or not, it can be very helpful for optimizing productivity and visualizing a project team’s effectiveness to draw up the project in terms of its workflows.
Some of the most common workflows are:
- Sequential Workflow which progresses forward step-by-step
- State Machine Workflow moves from State to State, including repeated iterations if necessary
- Rules-driven Workflow where specific rules govern the progress of task strands
Using project management workflows can help your team and your productivity through:
- Improvements to processes
Once the specific steps of project management workflows are laid out, the individual processes that they involve become clearer. It is therefore easier to identify the role each process plays and how they can be improved to create incremental gains throughout the whole production chain.
- Defining responsibilities
Workflows make it easier to outline and assign areas of responsibility throughout different strands of your project. After you and your team have drawn up and acknowledged the project management workflows in place, let everyone know under whose remit each sequence falls.
- Better deadline prediction
Rather than just giving an estimate of when an overall task strand or indeed project may be completed, with workflows it is possible to break down all the essential components and, using the critical path method, estimate precisely how long everything should take.
- Increased visibility for stakeholders
When it comes to stakeholder management, one of the best ways of keeping them satisfied and supportive of the project is to provide clear and easy to understand information and status updates. This transparent visibility is improved by project management workflows as the effects of each process become more apparent and open to scrutiny.
- Identifying risk
Project risks can come in many forms, such as delays, cost overruns and supply failures. By strategizing your processes through a workflow, risks become easier to identify and get planned for. Though it is impossible to predict and avoid all pitfalls, with more insightful risk assessment and management, their effects can be reduced.
- Enhancing team cohesion and coordination
Workflows provide clearer visualizations to your team about how they are expected to be working together. Knowing the team members which they are depending on or must coordinate with gives your whole team a better picture of how their own individual tasks are interlinked with those around them.
As you can see there are a wide range of advantages to having well-established project management workflows for your team. While the need for flexibility is necessary and you should always be adaptable enough to pivot focus and resources when necessary, project workflows can provide an effective basis up which to plan your project course, identify risks and areas for improvement, as well as to bring your team closer together.