Improving Your Business Process Efficiency with Agile Workflows

Many organizations are obsessed with the speed of their business processes. But the change in today’s enterprise is more centered around customer expectations, technological advancements and market shifts. Businesses that want to remain competitive need to be able to adapt to these changes. And that requires business process agility over speed.

Think of it as lateral quickness versus straight-line speed. Speed is ultimately about performing the same processes faster than before. Agility is about how quickly you can adapt to your environment to get the best results.

The Agile methodology applies this analogy to business processes. It is famously a project management technique, for an industry where changes must often be made quickly or on-the-fly. But Agile originated from a desire for an alternative to document-driven, heavyweight software development processes—a similar desire that lies at the heart of automated workflows.

In this post, we’re going to look at how Agile methodology, when combined with agile workflows, can increase the speed of your business processes even further.

Why Go Agile?

It’s true that manual, document-driven processes have often plagued software development, as they have plagued many other industries. Agile working looks to stop that. Agile processes are iterative, above all else—breaking down development into smaller, more manageable pieces.

With each iteration, additional features can be added as needed and fixes can be made. This means you only build what you absolutely need to, avoiding requirements that aren’t worth doing and saving time.

Just like Agile working, workflow automation looks to remove (or rather, replace) processes that aren’t worth doing. By freeing up time for workers to spend on more critical or time-dependent tasks, your workforce is better able to adapt to whatever the enterprise throws at them.

Workflows built in the cloud allow users to extend and connect forms, applications, content, and systems of record with decision-makers in the business. These are agile workflows; a perfect tool for agile working. Let’s look at some agile processes you might run in your business, and how agile workflows can further improve the efficiency of those processes.

1.  Scrum

Scrum is one of the most popular frameworks for implementing agile working. Scrum sees a product built in a series of fixed-length iterations, called Sprints. Sprints normally occur daily or weekly; their frequency aims to elicit a feeling a tangible process, helping speed up development and a quick turnover.

Do more with automated agile workflows:

For Sprints to move swiftly from one to the next, agility is everything. The flexibility of cloud-based workflows enable this—removing upfront setup and costs to help businesses get going straight away. Agile workflows often use a drag-and-drop design canvas for building workflows—removing the need for code—so every member of the business can automate and speed up their processes. Considering the fast-paced nature of Scrum Sprints, this is invaluable.

2.  Kanban

Like Scrum, Kanban is another agile framework. With Kanban, work items are represented visually on a Kanban board, so team members can see the state of every piece of work at any time (‘To do’, ‘Work in progress’, ‘Completed work’). The emphasis of Kanban is therefore on continual delivery, rather than the iterative nature of Scrum.

Do more with automated agile workflows:

The ongoing nature of the Kanban framework requires high levels of communication at all times. Automated message notifications can keep business teams on the same page. Rather than dealing with notifications across multiple formats—email, mobile, SMS, etc.—cloud-based workflows can integrate with line of business applications to create a single portal to manage tasks and streamline notifications.

With all workers on the same page, they’re better able to adapt to any changes that come their way.

3.  Six Sigma

Six Sigma is an approach that aims to improve the quality of software through meticulous identification and elimination of product defects. The process continues until there are as close to zero defects as possible. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. So, there is practically no room for error.

Do more with automated agile workflows:

Six Sigma demands product perfection, so fixes need to happen as soon as possible. Any hardware or software issues that need improvement can be automatically captured with cloud-based workflows. Email notifications are then set to routinely remind the development team there is a fix to be made.

Agile Workflows and Nintex Workflow Cloud

At Nintex, we have used the methods mentioned above to improve how our products are planned, built and defined. We have implemented rolling updates with our Nintex solutions, most notably Nintex Workflow Cloud. This was born from daily Sprint meetings with the development team, where we would discuss new features, updates, and fixes. The Agile method worked extremely well—the development team are now able to push new features from internal rollout to production every two weeks. And the agile methodology we use to create and improve Nintex Workflow Cloud, you can use with Nintex Workflow Cloud to empower a more agile workforce.

Nintex Workflow Cloud integrates with the cloud services, applications and content stores you already use to provide a seamless experience. Integrating a Digital Workflow Connector is as easy as building any other workflow—simply drag, and drop. Improve the flexibility of your business processes with cloud-based connectors and agile workflows within Nintex Workflow Cloud, and improve your business agility.

 

Read more about the always-updating nature of the Nintex Workflow Cloud in this post from VP of Product, Ryan Duguid.

 

Phil Ray

Phil Ray has been with Nintex for 5 years as the Business Applications Manager in our IT department. Phil is responsible for implementing and enhancing our internal business applications. He also leads our in-house Nintex practice, using the Nintex Workflow Platform to improve our own internal business processes.