I read an interesting article a while ago that really nailed it when it comes to workflow. I particularly remember one sentence; “Why do we call it workflow when it generally prevents work from flowing?”.
Workflow has become a very wide term that is used for describing the need and/or solution for efficient process support, but too often it delivers quite the opposite. In my opinion this is due to the fact that workflow brings out the wish to get tighter and more detailed control. Detailed control often leads to revoked access rights and creates unnecessary activities for the sake of traceability. So the process, not being primarily designed for efficiency, often ends up preventing users from doing what they want and should be doing. Eventually this forces them to regress to email, Word-documents and Excel spreadsheets faster than any business consultant can spell “workflow orchestration tool”.
When designing a marketing process - and its accompanying workflow - the focus should be simplicity and automation. This means that control and traceability cannot be prioritized over the user’s personal efficiency, nor can it be allowed to limit the ability to automate tasks. This doesn’t mean that I want chaos to reign - quite the opposite, actually. I am a big fan of automation. Automating tasks actually requires an event-based workflow that is controlled by the system. It can help make things easier when managing parallel activities, and the more parallel activities we can have, the shorter our time-to-market will be. I strongly believe that we should be focusing on designing workflows that automates boring and repetitive tasks, allows parallel activities and minimizes the workload for all users so that it actually enables both work and information to really flow.