7 Indispensable Features of Any Modern Workflow Management Platform
When choosing a workflow management platform, you’ll have no shortage of choices. Today’s software environment is saturated with competitors, so it’s hard to tell which platform will be the best fit for your team. If you already have a solution in place, you may be tempted to stick with it, even if it’s not the most efficient or universal solution for your business—an unfortunate byproduct of status quo bias. And if you’re in the market for a new solution, you might be too preoccupied with factors like budget and integration potential that you overlook some of the fundamentals that make a workflow management platform great.
So what features and decision factors should you be looking for?
Key Features for Workflow Management
In a streamlined, modern system, these are some of the most important features to look for:
1. Cloud hosting and remote access. Workflow management won’t do you much good if it’s not accessible to the majority of your team. Most modern workflow management solutions are available on multiple devices, including both desktop and mobile devices, and rely on cloud hosting to ensure that up-to-date data are available across all devices. In other words, when a manager updates the status of a deliverable from their laptop in the office, employees in the field will see that deliverable update in real-time. Cloud hosting also gives your data more stability and more reliability; with the right provider, you can rest assured that your data is protected by backup upon backup, and secured so no prying eyes can attain it.
2. Offline access. Today’s cloud-hosted apps are innovative and can boost your team’s productivity, but they often come with a glaring weakness—they’re unavailable without an internet connection. Your team may be on a remote worksite without internet access, or may be dealing with an unreliable connection—and that’s why you need a workflow management platform that allows offline access with mobile data capturing. The ideal solution will allow users to access the most recent data gathered, and allow them to make changes, then sync those changes the next time a user encounters an internet connection. That way, your workers can stay connected even when they’re away from a wireless network.
3. User collaboration. Your team is just that—a team. And while individuals may be able to work independently to an extent, you won’t get far unless your workflow management platform offers some degree of user collaboration. Ideally, you’ll be able to create custom roles within your organization, with admins able to create new roles and edit practically anything, managers to edit workflows and assign low-level users, employees who can change tasks and deliverable statuses, and read-only users who can only see what others have done. That way, your team can collaborate precisely in the ways they need to without jeopardizing any higher-level information.
4. Mobile-focused optimization. Let’s face it. We spend most of our time on mobile devices. Your team will be relying on smartphones and tablets more than desktops and laptops, so you need a solution that was designed with a mobile interface in mind. Your team members need to be able to click things conveniently with their fingers (rather than a mouse) and read content without zooming in and distorting the dimensions of the app. Platforms that were designed with mobile users in mind are much easier to access and manipulate, resulting in much more productive work—and less frustrated workers.
5. Accessible data. What’s a workflow management platform if you can’t use it to learn more about your workflows? Most modern workflow management solutions do the effort of collecting and storing data—but the real secret lies in making that data accessible. Ideally, a user should be able to access data as deeply and fully as they want, learning all the ins and outs of their organization, or be able to view a handful of data at a high level. The right platform will allow users to quickly and easily generate almost any report they can think of—without overloading them with too much raw information.
6. Learnability. Your workflow management platform will be used throughout your entire organization, from the managers who create and oversee new workflows to the employees who call upon them to do their core work. When you’re integrating this system for the first time, you’ll need to make sure it’s easily learnable for all those employees—otherwise, you’ll spend needless extra hours, and take several extra weeks to get everyone up to speed (dropping communications in the meantime). Plus, the simpler and more intuitive the system is, the faster your new employees will be able to get up to speed.
7. Customization. Finally, you’ll need a solution with some degree of customizability. Off-the-shelf workflow management apps might work for some small teams, but businesses tend to have very different goals, visions, and demands—which means a default system probably won’t work. Some apps may allow you to build your own features, or tweak features that already exist, before you integrate the app, while others let you customize your layouts, roles, and interfaces after you’ve adopted them. In any case, you should have at least some say in how your platform functions within your team.
Knowing When to Switch
The second part of the equation is knowing when it’s appropriate to make the switch. If you’re still using old-school, paper-based workflows, you should know the answer to your question is “as soon as possible.” Digital workflows provide much more flexibility and convenience, as well as lower costs and greater capabilities. If you’re already using a digital workflow system, ask yourself if it contains all the features listed above to a satisfactory degree, and whether it adds more value to your organization than it costs in upkeep.
Drawing from a decades-long foundation of field work experience, these 7 features are core components of every Sequel workflow platform. If you’re interested in learning more about how a purpose-built Sequel workflow platform can modernize and improve your workflow management capabilities, contact us today! We’ll work with your team to build the right solution for your organization.
Chris Bartlett / About the Author
Serving as Sequel’s CTO, Chris specializes in technologies that bring superior quality and maximized reliability to field operations, with a focus on building, integrating, and deploying more efficient, cost-effective field data collection and reporting solutions.
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