August 30

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What Is Workflow Analysis And How Can It Help Your Business?

By Hanson Cheng

August 30, 2022


Productivity and efficiency are major issues for any employer. There are various strategies for improving the operational efficiency of a business, and among them, workflow analysis has become a staple at all levels of management. It doesn’t matter whether your organization is big or small, whether you’re trying to set up an online business or opening a new branch or franchise, there are many benefits to applying workflow analysis. 

In this article, you will learn what workflow analysis is, see some examples and templates of workflow analysis, get to know the steps and benefits of workflow analysis, and get an idea of when workflow analysis is appropriate in an organization and why companies perform workflow analysis.

What Is Workflow Analysis?

The definition of workflow analysis is: the process of examining an organization’s workflows to improve its operational efficiency. It helps to identify bottlenecks, remove unnecessary processes and tasks and optimize the workplace for optimal efficiency. It is also helpful to know what workflow itself means. 

According to Wikipedia, the workflow analysis definition is:

“A workflow consists of an orchestrated and repeatable pattern of activity, enabled by the systematic organization of resources into processes that transform materials, provide services, or process information. It can be depicted as a sequence of operations, the work of a person or group, the work of an organization of staff, or one or more simple or complex mechanisms.”

Generally speaking, a workflow has three basic components: input, transformation, and output. It’s pretty intuitive – work comes in, gets done, and the result is then sent onward to the next process. In practice, workflows often come in the form of diagrams, schematics, flowcharts and various other graphical forms. If you are trying to figure out how to make money online, chances are that getting a good grasp of your workflows is something you should get started on immediately after you do your market research.

Example Of Workflow Analysis

Let’s take a look at a simple workflow analysis example chart for a writer.

Example Of Workflow Analysis

[Credit: https://monday.com/blog/productivity/workflow/]

Of course, workflows are rarely so simple in sectors like IT, banking or telecommunications, but this one is a good place to start. The workflow itself is fairly straightforward, but what exactly does analysis entail?

First of all, depending on the specific workflow under analysis, some metrics may be needed. For example, in the workflow shown above, how long does it take the writer to compose a first draft? If the writing process fails, at what point in the workflow does it fail most often? What is the relationship between the time it takes for the writer to do his or her work and the time it takes to review the work? Is there a bottleneck anywhere? Remember that the goal of workflow analysis is to make a workflow more efficient. In your own workflow analysis, you should try to collect as much relevant data as possible to shave off valuable working hours from the process you are studying.

Workflow Analysis Template

Workflow analysis templates can help to create and modify workflows. Here is an example of a workflow analysis template.

Workflow Analysis Template

[Credit: smartsheet.com]

In the example above, we see that the document management workflow has been separated into four distinct subprocesses. This should go without saying, but depending on the nature of your business, workflow analysis templates will vary. One of the benefits of having a template is that it can easily be modified as changes to the process are made. You can make your own or find free templates online.

There are even specific templates for those that want to learn how to create a website, so it’s good to consider that someone might have already created a workflow for a process you want to undertake.

Workflow Analysis In 4 Steps

Here are the four workflow analysis steps to consider when going through a workflow.

As you go through the steps consider this question:

“Why do companies perform a workflow analysis every so often?” 

This question will really frame the following four steps and allow you to identify ways to use these steps in your business.

Identify, Understand And Document All Subprocesses In The Workflow

This is the foundation of workflow analysis. Identifying and understanding all subprocesses is essential for success. On top of that, however, all subprocesses must be documented in meticulous detail. This, in turn, will make the next step much easier.

Collect Data

Once all subprocesses in the workflow have been identified and documented thoroughly, data from all of them can be collected. The data that can be gleaned from subprocesses over the course of day-to-day operations is two-fold: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data tends to involve time (although workflows can vary greatly between different businesses) and is used to simply count the time required for each subprocess. Other workflow data analysis techniques include comparing differences between minimum and maximum values in a subprocess. It should be readily apparent which subprocesses have the greatest impact on efficiency following analysis.

Qualitative data can allow for a deeper dive into the workings of your business, but it is a bit trickier to sift through. After all, it is typically obtained by talking to the people responsible for handling specific subprocesses. However, qualitative data may be the best way to perform rapid workflow analysis and identify bottlenecks in the workflow.

Analyze The Data

Analyzing workflow data entails merging quantitative and qualitative data and identifying subprocesses causing the biggest disruptions in the workflow. Another workflow analysis technique is to determine which subprocesses generate the highest cost or time exposure. There is no one-size-fits-all way to analyze workflow data, so discernment is required when applying workflow analysis principles to your own business.

Work Out Potential Improvements

Having analyzed the data, you should have a good picture of the subprocesses that can be removed or optimized. This is the step where you achieve the goals of the whole workflow analysis process. Optimizing workflow efficiency by removing subprocesses or modifying the workflow will have long-term benefits for your company.

Tools For Workflow Analysis

Once you have strong workflows in place, the next logical step would be to automate them using workflow analysis tools. There are multiple platforms for analysis workflow management available on the market, including HubSpot workflows. HubSpot offers marketing automation software that enables the creation and rapid analysis of workflows.

Some other companies offering Workflow Management Software are: Smartsheet, Monday.com, Hive, Kintone, and Next Matter. Most workflow management solutions enable data analysis in addition to operational features.

When Is Business Workflow Analysis Appropriate?

You don’t want to be analyzing your workflow every day. The entire point of automating workflows is to have an efficient system in place, reducing the cost of completing each task. However, a data analysis workflow is very useful when validating a business idea or when you have newly-created workflows. For example, it may reveal if you have enough employees to handle every role in every subprocess. Maybe it will even show you are planning to hire too many people in the first place. The earlier you start trimming down on the time and cost exposure of subprocesses in your workflows and optimizing costs, the better.

Once you have already established strong workflows in your organization, you may still be able to make improvements after you analyze data collected over a long period of time. Also, if workflows undergo change over time, periodic analysis can’t hurt either; just keep in mind that there is a limit to how lean a workflow can be.

What Is Workflow Analysis  - FAQ

When Is Workflow Analysis Appropriate?

Workflow analysis is appropriate when you want to validate a business idea, or when you have newly-created workflows. It can help you determine if you have enough employees to handle every role in every subprocess, and may even show you are planning to hire too many people in the first place.

What Is A Workflow Analysis Chart?

A workflow analysis chart is a graphical representation of a workflow that shows the sequence of steps involved in completing a task.

What Are The Best Workflow Analysis Techniques?

The best workflow analysis techniques vary depending on the type of data you are working with, but some common methods include process mapping, process mining, and data flow diagrams.

What Does The Workflow Of Data Analysis Look Like?

The workflow of data analysis typically includes four main steps: data collection, data cleaning, data analysis, and data visualization. These steps can be further broken down into more specific tasks, but these are the main steps that should be followed in order to complete a data analysis project.

Conclusion: Why Is Workflow Analysis Important?

Ultimately, answering  “What is a workflow analysis?” comes down to understanding what results your organization attempts to get out of this exercise. 

Typical, workflow analysis brings multiple benefits to an organization. Its main goal is to reduce the time taken between the input and output of a workflow. This is typically done by eliminating or optimizing subprocesses. Given that data analysis is conducted by software, which also collects data on an ongoing basis, it is actually possible for an organization to quantify the time- and cost-savings afforded by workflow analysis. 

Aside from that, the workflow of data analysis allows employees to generally be more productive as they have clearly defined roles in efficient and automated workflow management systems. When you lump all of that together, the benefits of workflow analysis seem pretty clear.

Last Updated on August 30, 2022 by Hanson Cheng

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Hanson Cheng

About the author

Living in Bali with my Fiancee and puppy, (Alina and Pickles).
Scaling online businesses and sharing lessons learned on this website and in our email newsletter.

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