Workflow Management

Mastering your workflow management system: a complete guide

A strong workflow management system automates tasks and streamlines processes so your team can focus on what’s most important.

El equipo de Slack19 de febrero de 2024

At work, some tedious tasks are just inevitable. But wasting your time on them? That’s optional.

Adding the right tools to your team’s workflow management system can boost productivity, save time and free up your team members for more important work, like building relationships or brainstorming. Automation software simplifies workflows by taking care of repetitive tasks, letting employees focus on the most important parts of their job. The result: work becomes less tedious, and your team becomes more efficient.

Let’s explore how to get the most out of your workflow management system.

What is workflow management?

Before you can streamline your team’s projects with workflow automation tools, you need to understand the basics of workflow management. Managing a workflow entails optimizing the tasks involved in a process to reach a specific outcome.

Let’s take the process of making breakfast as an example. The required steps are:

  • Wash and cut fruit
  • Brew coffee
  • Toast bread
  • Cook eggs

How can you complete these steps to get to your desired outcome—breakfast—as efficiently as possible? How about:

  • Start the coffee
  • Put your bread in the toaster
  • While the bread is toasting, crack the eggs into a bowl and pour them into a pan
  • While the eggs cook, wash and cut the fruit
  • By the time your fruit is cut, the coffee, toast and eggs should be ready

You completed those steps in a logical, effective order, which let you prep breakfast quickly before any ingredients could get cold. So there you go: you just managed a workflow.

Workflow management vs. project management

Workflow management optimizes the distinct steps involved within a broader project. Project management takes a bird’s-eye view of the project as a whole.

A project manager might be responsible for a project’s timeline, budget and allocation of resources. A workflow manager, on the other hand, focuses on the individual, day-to-day tasks to ensure they’re completed efficiently and effectively.

Business process management—or the organization and optimization of tasks related to growing a business—adds another layer. A business process manager may oversee new employee hiring, order processing and new product development.

How workflow management tools fit into your business

The right workflow management system can simplify your processes, reduce errors and give your team more time to focus on its most important tasks.

Benefits of a workflow management system

  • Streamlined operations: Products like Slack Workflow Builder can automate tasks for maximum efficiency—directly in the intelligent productivity platform your team already knows and loves.
  • Enhanced collaboration: A good workflow management system facilitates collaborative task lists and file sharing. It also provides real-time updates on your team’s workflows to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Adapting to scale: As your company grows and adds more employees, your processes will need to adapt. Choose a workflow management program that’s compatible with a growing team.

Types of workflow management tools

Given all of the options available on the market, how do you pick the best workflow software for your team? The right solution for you depends on your industry, company and projects.

Your workflow management system should integrate with your team’s communication platform to support collaboration every step of the way. Consider these popular apps for workflow management:

  • Asana: A visual project management program that makes it easy to coordinate and manage workflows
  • Slack Sales Elevate: Integrates Salesforce Sales Cloud with Slack, empowering sales teams to simplify tasks and centralize processes right in the Slack platform
  • Slack: The intelligent productivity platform that supports robust communication and collaboration for remote and hybrid teams, offering workflow automation via Workflow Builder
  • Trello: A list-making application that keeps track of daily to-dos as you manage larger projects
  • Zapier: An online platform that connects your apps and services to automate repetitive tasks in a user-friendly interface

Leveraging Slack for workflow optimization

How can a business messaging platform help with workflow management? Well, Slack goes above and beyond your basic team chat app. Let’s take a look.

Slack’s Workflow Builder

You can build custom workflows in Workflow Builder to automate routine tasks and processes, like those involved in kicking off a project or onboarding a new hire.

Some repetitive tasks can become tedious and time-consuming when done manually—think: drawing up contracts, contacting project owners and creating meeting schedules. Workflow Builder saves you time by taking care of those to-do items automatically.

You can use Workflow Builder to:

  • Create a new project Slack channel for your team to collaborate in
  • Invite the right people to the channel
  • Start a new project in Asana to track tasks and milestones
  • Schedule a call in Zoom for the kickoff meeting

Also, once you publish a workflow, others in your company’s Slack workspace can use it too. This helps standardize unstructured processes across your organization to boost productivity and keep everyone in sync.

Use cases: automating processes with Slack

Don’t take our word for it. Some of Slack’s biggest customers, like DocuSign, Noom and Verizon, have benefited from Slack’s automation tools.

DocuSign: As DocuSign’s workforce grew, the company needed to expedite its onboarding process. The IT team made it happen by consolidating all onboarding documentation into a single space and using Workflow Builder to set up a two-step onboarding workflow:

  1. When new hires are set up with Slack accounts, they are automatically invited to join a set of main channels. Slackbot automatically sends them critical information, including the purpose of each main channel and where new employees can locate important documents.
  2. Upon joining their team channel, each new hire is automatically prompted to complete a workflow that includes a form requesting details on their role, whom they report to and a fun personal fact. Their responses are automatically sent to the team channel as an intro message, allowing other members to welcome their new teammates.

Noom: Noom’s manual onboarding process was time-consuming and became unsustainable as the company onboarded up to 100 new coaches at a time. Noom used Workflow Builder to implement a three-step onboarding workflow. The shift ultimately shaved 30 minutes off new-hire orientation and saved the coaching operations team around two hours per month.

  1. A week before their scheduled start date, the new hires are automatically added as single-channel guests to the #pre-start-noombies channel in the company’s workspace. They receive a tour of the workspace and set up their calendars.
  2. When a member joins the pre-start channel, an automatic workflow is triggered, providing each new hire with onboarding content, including tutorials, a tour of resources, and a request for a bio and photo.
  3. On their start date, new employees automatically become full members of Noom’s Slack workspace and are added to their respective cohort-specific channels for new hires.

Verizon: Russell Leader, a director of planning and engineering at Verizon, encourages employees across the organization to use Workflow Builder to speed up lengthy processes and alleviate pain points. Each department at Verizon determines how to apply Slack’s workflow solutions to its team’s unique roadblocks.

“Employees outside of IT know their own problems and can leverage the capabilities of Slack to build their own workflows,” Leader says. “It’s not just IT bringing a tool, but a platform that other people can build upon for their own departmental needs.”

Go forth and automate

A strong workflow management system can help your team reach its full potential. By automating tedious tasks, you can free up your team members to focus on the more complex and productive parts of their job. And by choosing workflow management software that integrates seamlessly with Slack, you can simplify processes, boost collaboration, reduce errors and keep everyone on the same page.

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