How to Create a Workflow (for Standard Operating Procedures)

Most of us want to be productive at work. But that can be challenging when we don’t know exactly what to do. This is where a standard operating procedures (SOPs) workflow comes into play. SOPs refer to documented guidelines that break routine tasks into standardized step-by-step instructions. 

Effective standardization enhances operational efficiency, improves quality control, and increases worker safety. There’s just one problem—SOPs aren’t always as effective as they could be. One simple way to improve SOP fulfillment is to combine them with workflow charts. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss the different types of workflows, their many benefits, and how to create effective workflow charts. Implement the following tips, and you’ll soon find yourself answering fewer questions about work orders and spending more time optimizing processes!  

The Relationship between SOPs and Workflows

First things first—there are no downsides to standardizing business processes. But this doesn’t mean organizations will experience immediate results after implementing SOP programs.

SOPs generally falter for three reasons: 

  1. Employees can’t easily access them (written documents remain in file cabinets). 
  2. Managers don’t write them in clear, concise, and jargon-free language.  
  3. Complex procedures require more explanation than simple checklists can provide. 

Beyond using mobile work order software to circulate well-written SOPs, managers can provide workers with illustrated SOP workflows to reduce confusion.

A simple way to understand the importance of workflows is to consider a vehicle’s navigation system. Nowadays, if a driver runs into an unexpected roadblock, the driver usually consults the virtual roadmap for alternative routes. Similarly, good workflows make it easier to execute assigned tasks and change directions as needed. So, what exactly is a standard operating procedure workflow process? 

What Is a Workflow Process?

Standard operating processes workflows are visual representations of predetermined actions. They help workers execute tasks as efficiently as possible from start to finish. 

Workflows can involve one employee or several, depending on the work at hand. They include the necessary steps, resources, and instructions to get work done.

Manufacturing project managers, for example, often divide workflows into the categories of sequential and parallel. Sequential workflows direct employees to complete steps in a numbered order. Parallel workflows allow for executing multiple stages simultaneously. 

Following either format should lead to the same result every time, regardless of who completes the task. You can assign workflows alone or as a supplement to a comprehensive SOP. 

Six Benefits of Using Workflows

As mentioned above, workflows help employees complete tasks with less confusion. Several additional benefits to visually outlining processes, include: 

1. Increased Consistency

Consistency is the hallmark of longstanding organizations, regardless of industry. Workflows enable managers to standardize routine processes. These processes lead to the consistent output. This is especially vital to manufacturers, warehouses, and sectors that follow stringent quality-control regulations. 

2. Enhanced Productivity

Standardizing workflow processes relieves employees from the burden of making difficult decisions under pressure. Instead of wavering over how to resolve unexpected problems, they can quickly identify an approved course of action. 

3. Increased Transparency

Many facility management companies are subject to strict penalties in the event of noncompliance. Documented workflows act as “cheat sheets” to help operational managers monitor activities for oversights, mistakes, and violations. Instead of racking their brains to remember complex regulatory details, managers can quickly reference visual aides within automated workflows. In addition, established workflows can act as audit trails for proof of compliance during third-party inspections. 

4. Increased Autonomy

Good workflows empower employees to make good decisions without management input. They ensure that everyone understands their unique responsibilities and how they relate to comprehensive processes. The more autonomy workers have, the more time managers have to optimize operations for greater efficiency.

5. Streamlined Training

Companies spend significant time, money, and energy training new hires. Workflow streamline the process by removing the necessity to walk employees through every procedural step in real-time. Furthermore, existing employees can transition into new roles more quickly. 

6. Minimized Delays

Workflow management systems enable organizational leaders to identify better project timelines, potential bottlenecks, and necessary resources for completion. Workflow automation further ensures everyone understands their roles. 

Other incentives to use workflows include enabling businesses to establish employee ground rules, supporting quality improvement programs, and enhancing company cultures. Before creating your first workflow, it’s helpful to break the document down into its essential elements. 

3 Elements of Standard Operating Procedure Workflows

All workflows share the following three components: 

  1. Input: These are the resources needed to perform the given steps. Examples of input include team members, assets, and other workflow tools. 
  2. Transformation: Also referred to as processes, this workflow aspect refers to the workflow steps that illustrate how to apply the input. Predefined rules are the building blocks that lead to the third element—output. 
  3. Output: This includes the planned service or desired outcome. It’s worth emphasizing that output isn’t limited to deliverables. For example, an onboarding workflow would result in a skilled employee who is now an asset to the organization. 
Put simply, Purbly is the best in class when it comes to mobile work order management in facility management.

Simplify SOP Workflows with Purbly

Perhaps, the easiest place to dip your toes into workflow creation is with your facility’s preventive maintenance (PM) procedures. Critical pieces of equipment come with manufacturer’s guidelines that outline routine maintenance procedures to ensure asset reliability, decrease downtime, and extend equipment life cycles. 

Visual task representations can reduce technician oversights when reading exceptionally complex SOP checklists and work instructions. If you’re ready to streamline your maintenance project management efforts, do >>REACH<<them for more details.


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