You want your business to be efficient, cost-effective and scalable. For this to happen, you need to lay a strong foundation for your operations. This strength lies in your business processes. A business process is as strong as the workflow designed to support its implementation.
So what is the difference between a process and a workflow? Think of building a house. You need bricks to build the walls. However, these bricks must have something holding them together and in place otherwise, your wall will not stay put for very long (unless you have some pyramid technology going on). The bricks are the business processes and the mortar your workflows.
> Example: Inbound Sales
Let’s take the example of inbound sales. The house is inbound sales. That is what you are building. The back wall is one of the inputs that will support the house. The back wall can represent inbound marketing. The process for inbound marketing may look like this:
> Marketing team acquires leads list
> Creates email campaign
> Email campaign approval by manager
> Campaign upload on email marketing tool
> Emails sent to leads
> Team monitors campaign performance
> Team does lead scoring
> Team forwards any MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to Sales team
But how do you actually implement this process in an efficient, cost-effective and scalable way?
> Workflows: The mortar holding your campaign together
This is where the mortar comes in, the workflows. Let’s take Marketing team acquires leads list (Brick 1) and Campaign uploaded on email marketing tool (Brick 2). The mortar would be:
- A workflow that shows how the leads are acquired in the first place. Are you using a web crawler to obtain contact information from websites? Does the marketing team have a research function to look into leads and acquire contact information? How long is this supposed to take?
- A workflow that shows how the leads database is being managed. Where are the acquired leads stored? Are these accessible to the entire marketing team? Is someone confirming the accuracy of the data collected to avoid a high bounce rate for your campaign? How often is the database updated? Is the information available up to date or have some emails changed?
- A workflow that shows how the email campaign is created. Is the campaign content targeted to the type of leads on the leads database? Is the content targeting the entire leads database or are the leads separated into specific lists? Are you creating content specific to each list? What tool is being used to create the images?
- A workflow that shows how the content and the leads lists are uploaded onto the marketing tool. Is the content creation tool integrated with the email marketing tool. How quickly can we load the list and content onto the tool? How manual is the process and can the leads list be automatically uploaded into the email marketing tool?
Analyse. Optimize. Repeat
This is just the beginning. You will need to constantly review the set workflows. This will involve checking if the activities, the actors (people and tools), the results and the state (the flow of the process) are all aligned to provide you with the efficiency, cost reduction and scalability you are after. Without continuous application of the right amount of mortar to the bricks making up your back wall, the bricks would not hold and your back wall would crumble. Without the back wall, the house would be incomplete.
Most businesses concentrate on creating processes but forget to think about the workflows i.e. how the processes will be implemented. Workflows are an important part of keeping a lean, mean business machine that is efficient, cost-effective and scalable. They must therefore not be ignored.