How Quality Workflow Is Measured : Client vs. Worker’s Side

March 15, 2015 2:42 pm0 commentsViews: 97

By : Jeff Shuey

workflow1There are always two ways to look at work. One is just to know it’s done. Another is to know how, why, where and who was involved throughout the workflow management process.

Knowing when and how to provide the right level of detail is both an art and a science. Providing the right information at the right time and on the right device is highly dependent upon the needs of both the client and worker sides of any workflow software solution.

Ensuring the right level of information is provided, while not exposing too much information, is both a business and technical challenge for workflow management software. There are rules involved, systems of record to connect, and data management needs that must be met. All of these aspects must be considered from both the client and worker side of the experience.

Data Privacy, Security and Sovereignty 

From the start to the finish of any workflow software process, there needs to be a focus on ensuring that the information being processed is protected and managed according to the business needs. Workflow software management must also meet any regulatory approval needs. This is all weighed and measured by the workflow software solution’s ability to take on tasks and to process them in a timely manner.

The people that need to access the workflow software are typically split between internal and external users: the client and the worker. Access to the workflow software on the device of their choice, the place of their choosing, and in the format they prefer, will ultimately determine the quality and overall satisfaction of the workflow management software. How well the workflow software is adopted also plays a role.

User Interface and User Experiences Matter : a poorly designed interface, a slow experience, or a non-responsive solution can significantly decrease the desire to use, support and engage with the workflow management software.

workflow2For example, if I want to know about the status of a specific invoice I have submitted for payment, I may just want to know if it has been paid or when it’s scheduled to be paid. This is the client side of the equation. However, if I am managing the accounting department at a company, I may want to know a lot more about the status and details related to how this specific invoice is being processed. This is the worker or manager side of the workflow software equation.

There is no wrong answer here, but there is a level of expectation on both sides of this conversation. If I am the client, especially in these modern days of smartphones, I may want to check the status of an invoice from my mobile device.

The same may be said for the workers and managers. Depending upon the nature of the documents and the need for access to other Line-of-Business (LOB) systems, some of these tasks may need to be done from a traditional desktop application. But this is changing…rapidly. With the rise of smartphones, the concept of desktop computing is shifting.

I used the example of accounting, but there are a myriad of other examples of business processes that have both a client and worker experience. Others include inputting a sale, managing a customer service request, and processing expense reports. Many of these have elements that impact every business of every type.

Forms – Online and Offline 

In each of these examples, there is an increasing need to be able to capture, process and manage information in forms. Businesses are starting to request the ability to manage their business processes when their employees and other users may not have access to internet or wireless carriers. In these cases, they still need the ability to capture information via workflow management software.

Depending upon how they have configured their mobile solutions, there may still be the need to be able to do simulated “online” calculations by loading some of their workflows onto their mobile devices.

Seamless, Adaptive Workflow Software 

workflow3Being able to find work is not a problem in a well-designed workflow software solution. When built correctly, the system will work seamlessly for both the client and the worker. Well-designed workflow management software will push the right task to the right person at the right time.

In small workflow software solutions, there may be very little need for specialization in roles and skills. However, in large departments, there are often specialized skills and subsets of knowledge that are more adept at processing specific steps in the workflow management software process. The workflow software solution should adapt to these skill sets and provide the right content, in the right context and at the right time.  

“Question: What’s the first thing that happens when someone deploys a workflow?

Answer: Someone wants to change it.” 

Olaf Wagner, K2 Co-Founder and SVP of Product Management, has stated this for years and uses it as a model for creating a business process automation (BPA) platform that adapts to the needs of the business. 

A properly designed BPA solution makes it easy to adapt, adjust and include these changes into the process.

Search / Find Work / Find Supporting Content 

As part of the process, most people won’t want to see older tasks that have already been completed…until they do. To remedy this, there is a need to include a search capability within the workflow software solution. Providing access to older information can save time with access to the information that they need to get their job done faster and with more accuracy. In a similar way, providing access to the client side of the workflow software solution to historical information can help reduce calls, frustration and wasted effort. A well-designed, robust workflow software solution will enable you to see past orders from your mobile device, right now.

Wrapping It All Together

Almost everyone has had experiences with workflow software solutions that didn’t quite work right. Usually, we let these things slide, especially if we have to work with the workflow management software system every day. However, the level of expectation for workflow management software systems is on the rise. People expect their workflow management software to behave like BPA systems, whether they are a worker, a manager, or a client.

The ultimate goal is to empower both the client and the worker with the information they need when they want it, where they want it, and in the format they prefer.  When this happens, all sides will be able to agree that this is how they measure the quality of their workflow.


Jeff_ShueyJeff Shuey is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He is an international speaker and writer on the Intersection of People and Process in Social, Mobile and Cloud Computing. Over the past 20 years, he has worked with customers and partners to design, develop and deploy solutions around the world. He has worked for Microsoft, FileNet (IBM), Captaris, Open Text, Kofax, Kodak and Gimmal and is currently the Chief Evangelist at K2.


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