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 for accomplishing a task. A workaround makes that person’s job easier, at least in the short term, but it disrupts the collaborative flow for those around them.
Digital workflow, if it is designed with document management best practices in mind, offers several ways to discourage these workarounds. The first step is to identify what the workaround is and why an employee is using it.
Here are a few of the reasons why 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 300 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. They might take documents from a shared drive
to feel more control over the outcome instead of working with their colleagues.
Understanding these workarounds offers valuable insights when you’re designing automated workflows. Stand back and look at how content flows before it reaches the workaround, and then redesign the digital workflow and create documentation to cut out the need for a makeshift solution.
Use the DocuWare Planner to test drive your ideas
In a recent webinar that is part of our Business Continuity and Mobile Workforce series, DocuWare Regional Sales Director Patrick Mello used the DocuWare Process Planner to explain how a digital mailroom could work in our current business environment. Since many employees are working from home, organizations need an efficient system for distributing mail. Having one person who goes into the office to distribute important paper documents, like checks, invoices and contracts is safer and more convenient for everyone.
When Patrick used the Process Planner to design a digital mailroom workflow, he asked these questions:
- What happens when a piece of mail leaves the mailroom?
- Can indexing mail can start advanced workflow processes?
- How can the solution send mail to any recipient in the organization?
This Process Planner diagram helped him begin to visualize the process:
The Process Planner is a free tool that enables you to diagram and better understand a process. You can replace time-consuming workarounds with logically ordered processes that remove unnecessary steps. You don't need a technical background to use the Process Planner – it's simple and intuitive. Using the Process Planner, it’s easier to automate everything from employee records to invoice processing.
We present sample workflow diagrams for common processes including contract management, invoice processing, and employee recruitment to get you started. Your email address and a password are all you need to register.
Refine your understanding of how to overcome bottlenecks
When you design a digital workflow correctly, it allows for better collaboration, and increases visibility and transparency into the process. A digital workflow improves collaboration through more efficient tools for notification and escalation. Automated notifications allow you to quickly see when there’s a task waiting for you in your queue.
The greater transparency makes it easy to keep processes moving forward through escalation. If an employee is out of the office for a few days, waiting for that person to complete a step could bring the entire process to a standstill. With digital workflows, it’s easy to escalate a request and re-route tasks, improving efficiency and collaboration.
By allowing for more transparency, visibility and feedback, digital workflows help organizations avoid inefficient workarounds and improve knowledge sharing across the entire organization. So, the next time you notice that that an employee is using a workaround, take a closer look and try to understand the reasoning behind it. What you learn could help you to improve how your company collaborates in a variety of contexts.