One of the most significant innovations in creating and implementing formal processes is the use of “workflow tools.” What does that mean? You ask. That’s a good question. I’ve not talked to many, especially in the church, who are doing anything along these lines.
A “workflow process” is one that is all electronic, notifying and prompting people involved in the process along the way.
Here’s a simple example. Most churches have a purchasing process. You know, you print out the purchase requisition, fill it out, decide on an account number, and submit it to your supervisor for approval. From there, it goes to your purchasing person or otherwise is used to make the approved purchase. Right?
Using a workflow tool (like that provided with Formstack), this process would be “automated.”
First, the purchase requisition form would be built as an electronic form, and the steps in the process would be set up as “queues” or buckets containing forms as they progress through each step in the process. Am I losing you yet? When a completed form is submitted, it would move from the first queue, “Complete and Submit Purchase Requisition,” to the second queue, “Review Purchase Requisition.”
When the completed electronic form is moved into the next queue, whoever is responsible for reviewing the form is notified via an e-mail alert. They receive an e-mail that tells them there’s a form sitting in the queue they manage. The e-mail contains a link that takes them directly to the form for review. They do what they are required to do (whatever that is) and click on “submit” or “save” (depending on the workflow tool or how the form is setup), and the form moves into the next queue. In this example, the next queue would be “Approve or Deny.” Whoever is responsible for approving the purchase is then notified via e-mail with a link. They approve the form and move it into the next queue.
Notice that no paper was printed, and everyone in the process is notified that they have work to do when the form reaches their step in the process.
Imagine the capability this provides. Especially in a multi-site situation or a situation where everyone involved in a process isn’t located in the same place.
The example I use here is a purchasing process using. Even more exciting, especially in the church, is workflow as it applies to “people processes.” Check out this post, Building People Processes.