If employees are replacing an official process with their own workarounds, there’s an underlying reason that deserves a closer look. When you dig into an informal bypass of a process, you often find that it’s the path of least resistance. A workaround makes that person’s job easier, at least in the short term, but it disrupts the collaborative flow for those around them.
Why do workarounds evolve?
- A department has outgrown existing processes: If your business is growing, a process that worked for five people may no longer meet the needs of 50 people. In this scenario, workarounds arise as ad hoc solutions to meet changing needs.
- Employee turnover: If someone is stepping into a former employee’s shoes, they often must quickly get up to speed on a process that wasn’t clearly documented or was itself a workaround. To keep the process moving, they fall back on their own assumptions about how the business works. The new employee may end up creating a stopgap measure because they don’t know about or understand an existing process.
- Lack of trust: People also create workarounds when they don’t trust other employees to do their jobs. For example, they might copy documents from a shared drive and work on it locally to feel more control over the outcome instead of working directly with their colleagues.
- Habits are hard to break: Employees may be using Outlook to store documents, Excel to track projects and PowerPoint to create graphics. They may feel that they don’t have time to learn how to use new tools and that their quick fix is better. They may not want to change. Even if the new solution is clearly more suited to the job.
How DocuWare Workflow Manager Makes Automation Easy
Workarounds seek to avoid an obstacle rather than trying to address it. Automated solutions tackle these underlying issues. DocuWare Workflow Manager is a tool that enables you to identify process steps then connect them with actions. These digital processes are predictable and consistent. Any deviations are clearly defined and resulting exceptions are flagged and sent to on for further review.
The workflows are fully customizable at any point to optimize the flow of information throughout your team. A workflow controller oversees the tasks of all users and can be set up to intervene at any time. Also, a workflow history shows which decisions were made by which users within a workflow to help you monitor the process and address bottlenecks and human error. Processes like invoice processing, employee onboarding and contract management that have numerous steps and decision points are ideal candidates for your first digitization effort.
How DocuWare replaced email as a task management tool at an HVAC equipment supplier
Lohmiller & Company/Carrier West provides equipment, parts and supplies to over 5,000 customers who serve the HVAC needs of the residential and business communities throughout the region. With 200 employees and four locations, the company has been honored with Regional and National Best Workplace Recognition honors, going above and beyond in winning the hearts and minds of employees. Part of that achievement is based on introducing advanced technology.
Lohmiller relies heavily on email communications, and task-oriented requests were sometimes overlooked in the sea of electronic information. DocuWare was implemented in 2018, and automatic workflows solved this problem by allowing the use of task notifications with embedded email reminders. Now managers receive task notifications and promptly take action. There is also an audit trail of what requests are sent to whom and when. As a result, emails are no longer used as a task management tool. The company also significantly reduced paper use and reclaimed space that was once taken up by file cabinets.
According to Credit Manager Brenda Erickson, “Once people overcome their natural fear of change, and with the training assistance of our DocuWare Partner, adaptation is quick, and using DocuWare is actually fun!”
Automated workflow reduces risk
Without automation, employees are overloaded with routine tasks. Information for decision-making is not quickly or easily accessible. And security, data privacy and compliance are permanently at stake.
So, the next time you notice that that an employee is using a temporary fix, take a closer look and try to understand the reasoning behind it. Then consider how implementing a workflow automation solution can simplify, speed up, standardize the process and eliminate the need for a makeshift solution.
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