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3 Reasons Communication Teams Don't Document Workflows (But Should!)

POSTED ON 
May 4, 2022

I’ve been having a not-so-secret love affair with documenting workflows for a while now. To me, they’re intriguing and exciting – like every good affair. But when I start talking about workflows or if I dare to bring up automation, I get pushback.  

Here are three common sentiments I hear (and two tools worth checking out!):  

1. Documenting a workflow sounds like extra work!

I’m a team of one and I know my own workflow. That’s probably true! But does everyone else in your organization know your workflow? Does anyone else? As a leader in the age of the great resignation, I’d sleep better at night knowing my team’s workflows were documented and distributed.  

2. I don’t want to be overly prescriptive.

I have a small team. I'd be careful not to conflate directive and micro-management with setting clear expectations on roles and responsibilities. If teams can’t easily articulate when a handoff happens and to whom, which they likely can’t without an agreed-upon and up-to-date workflow, inefficiencies and preventable mistakes will follow.  

3. I don’t want to be constantly updating a document.

My team is large, and we see frequent changes in roles. A documented workflow could aid in onboarding new or recently promoted employees. It can help people visualize whom they’ll be collaborating with and how their day-to-day job contributes to the bigger picture.  

Tools to Make Workflows Flow

If you’re new to workflows, don’t worry! Several affordable tools make workflow creation quick, painless, and – I might even say – fun! Here are two I recommend looking into:

LucidChart

LucidChart is one of my favorites. It’s visually appealing, collaborative and beginner-user friendly with over 800 templates that are easy to customize. Whether it's a process flow, roles and responsibilities framework, or even a stakeholder map, LucidChart has got you covered.

Take this contractor pipeline process for example. Let's say your content team relies on contractors to make some of the magic happen. This pipeline can help anyone looking at bringing contractor support easily view all that's required to bring them onboard and eventually offboard.

SMARTSHEET

Ready to take your workflow to the next level? Explore tools that help you automate repeatable tasks and processes. For editorial workflows and intake requests, I’d highly suggest diving into all the wonders that Smartsheet has to offer.  

When it comes to automation, we’re not trying to remove humans from the process. Instead, our goal is to eliminate human error.

We recently partnered with a certified Smartsheet Professional Services Partner and certified Smartsheet user, Melissa McDonald, to help us optimize our current implementation of Smartsheet and offer up solutions for improvement. Melissa is helping us understand that the true benefit of automating tasks is allowing teams to better manage expectations by standardizing ways of communication.

An automation could be as simple as setting up an email or Slack notification when something changes status. Say an article for the newsletter is now ready for review? Once the user changes the status, an automated email will go out to notify the reviewer. You can even get more advanced and build out dashboards or reports that pull what you need, when you need them.

Ready to get started?

If you’re beginning your own love affair with workflows, start small by documenting a simple process and share it with your colleagues. If you’re a pro, dig into automation and see how it can help you and your teams free up crucial time and brain space. And if workflows and automation still freak you out, you can always call Brilliant Ink. Our team is here to help!

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.

Lindsay McCleary
HEAD OF OPERATIONS

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