Workflows: What, Why, And How To Get Started
This workflows article was written based on a series of internal interviews with Radial Path’s process expert, Alan Moses. And yes, we followed a workflow.
Workflows processes put in place to ensure things get done; a workflow can be illustrated in many different ways but is simply a set of steps that must be followed successively to achieve the end goal.
Sounds easy, right?
Having a process in place ensures consistency while different people may carry out the same task, and having a physical checklist will decrease the likelihood of steps being missed.
Our workflow for writing blog posts
- Topic ideation
- Topic Research
- Write blog post
- Visual formatting
- Spelling and grammar checks
- SEO optimisation
Tick, tick, tick… For example, this makes it hard for the writer to miss out SEO because it is included in the process.
TIP: When creating workflows, always refer to the role of the person responsible - not the actual person. People leave, get fired, and promoted. Re-working workflows every time a different person fills a different role is inefficient.
Sure, that looks simple. But don’t be fooled. Workflows in industry are a lot more complicated. Especially when there is constant to and fro with clients.
Even a seemingly simple task like a blog post will have significantly more steps in a business case; meetings to decide topics, client approval, social media promotion, and engagement reports.
This is why businesses need workflows; you can properly monitor, manage and optimize everything from content and client discovery to new employee onboarding.
How to get started and what to include
Creating workflow templates as and when you need them is more efficient than stock-piling processes for tasks your company may never undertake. It also means that the process can be instantly implemented and you can adapt and make changes by seeing it in practice.
What should your workflows tell you?
- The exact tasks/subtasks that need to be done, in order
- Which role is responsible for which task
- How long each task should take
Alan Moses, Radial Path’s workflow expert said: “It’s better to create the processes as you go - and tailor them. Build up a library and then you’ll have a good reflection on reality, and then you can continue to adapt as they’re used more. Some tasks may become redundant. It also means you’re not starting afresh every time.”
Benefits of creating workflows:
- Aids scalability and makes frequently repeated tasks less of a burden
- Ensures no cross-departmental duplication of efforts
- Consolidates tasks
- Keeps timelines realistic
- Helps improve ROI due to increased efficiency
Alan added: “Processes shouldn’t be seen as ‘micromanagement’ and they definitely shouldn’t stifle creativity, they allow your team to be flexible within a rigid structure. What they do ensure is that timelines are realistic and everyone knows what’s expected of them. For us, that means we can give the client a clear timeline too.”
“The team has a better understanding of the task they’re undertaking, which in itself helps across the board; budgeting is improved, expectations are more accurate and forward planning is easier.”
Bear in mind: Flexibility is important because tasks may take longer than expected, more (or fewer) people may get involved or there might simply be more research than originally thought. So, continuously adapt your workflow until it’s just right.
Things to consider: Don’t fall into the trap of making things too generic or vague. Try to come at it from a SMART goal mindset:
You can use just about anything to make a great workflow, be it a diagram or a simple checklist. At Radial Path, we use Asana and Lucid Chart for hands on project management and flowchart creation, as well as to map campaigns and customer journeys.
Asana focuses on production. We use it to lay out everything from personal content creation and social media posts to comprehensive marketing strategies for clients.
Benefits of using Asana
- Acts like a library; file-sharing capabilities and links
- Tasks can be rated by priority
- Create ‘dependencies’, mirroring your flowchart
- Tasks have sub-tasks meaning it’s great for processes
- Assign tasks to people; even clients.
- Sub-tasks can be assigned to anyone too
- Tasks reflect metrics and campaign measurement, making it great for reporting back and not just production
- Single tasks can feature in more than one project
Tip: The tool offers priority ranking which color coordinates your task cards. If you’re not using this feature, color coordinate based on another factor, but remember to keep a key!
Of course, there are thousands of project management tools out there. If you’d like to see a comprehensive list, here's over 40 great suggestions.
Lucid Chart is particularly effective as it visualizes the starting point and goal, with every small step in between. Using this strategy also means that you can account for different outcomes and have your steps loop back onto each other. This is handy for multiple rounds of amends to a piece of content, for example.
Benefits of flowcharts
- A good overview of the project
- Allows you to see tasks from more than just a production perspective
- A good reminder of where to add lists and direct actions within the whole project management workflow rather than within content and production only
- Means you’re able to marry up steps in production with buyer journey phases
- Helps you pinpoint where content and efforts can be repurposed at different stages
“Workflows also lend themselves well to marketing automation. They let you touch base with key points and areas when you’re trying to work out the activity to carry out a campaign in Hubspot, or whichever tool you use. This reinforces workflow benefits like efficiency, forward planning, and managing expectations,” Alan finalized.