Use Digital Workflows To Stop Workarounds That Kill Collaboration

Use Digital Workflows To Stop Workarounds That Kill CollaborationIf you find that employees are replacing an official process with their own workarounds, there’s probably an underlying reason that deserves a closer look.

When you dig into a workaround (a bypass of a recognized problem in a system), you often find that it’s the path of least resistance to accomplishing a task. A workaround probably makes that person’s job easier, at least in the short term, but it disrupts the collaborative flow for those around them.

Digital workflows offer a number of ways to discourage or eliminate these workarounds. The first step is to identify what the workaround is and why the user is doing it. Sometimes the solution is just to explain the negative impact it has on the department as a whole.

Here are a few of the reasons why workarounds arise:

  1. A department has outgrown existing processes: If your business is growing, a process that worked for five people may no longer meet the collaboration needs of 300 people. In this scenario, workarounds arise as ad-hoc solutions to meet your company’s changing needs.

  2. 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 tend to fall back on their own assumptions about how the business works, and often end up creating a workaround because they don’t know about or understand an existing process.

  3. 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 or repository into their own silos where they feel more control over the final outcome, instead of following the collaborative process.

Some of these workarounds offer valuable insights when you’re designing digital workflows in conjunction with an enterprise content management (ECM) system. Pull back and look at how content flows before it reaches the workaround, and then redesign the process or digital workflow in a way that makes the workaround more difficult or less appealing for users.

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 reroute 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.

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Topics: Efficiency, User Adoption, Workflow