Procedure Checklists and Workflow Automation

You made it! Here in the final installment of our five-part series on management methodologies we look at the micro level: taking the process map we developed from our balanced scorecard and strategy map, and detailing the tasks required to complete each step in each activity in a procedures checklist.

A procedures checklist allows us to organize and prioritize specific tasks, indicate ownership and purpose, and teach and improve a process. Once you have a working procedures checklist, you can also face the boss monster of this level: automation. I’ll touch on that at the end of this post. For now, let’s start with specifying that the tasks required to complete the procedures checklist should be MECE: mutually exclusive and comprehensively exhaustive. Here’s an example that walks through the first four steps of the process map from last month:

A process map and its procedure checklist should have a single owner. This eliminates confusion over who has the responsibility and authority for keeping these critical documents up to date. It also gives a point of contact for other people involved in the process and procedures, so they know where to go if they have issues or ideas for improvement. In the end, continuous improvement is the objective of all main objective of all management methodologies, including of course processes and procedures.

For a high-level map like the Employee Journey, a likely owner would be the head of human resources. If detailed process maps are developed for specific activities within the high-level process map, for example management onboarding, that process map and procedures would likely be owned by the head of that particular department.

The purpose of the employee journey process map and procedures checklist is to capture the complete experience of your company’s most important asset, it’s people, from recruiting to retirement. Throughout this journey the employee should feel challenged, valued and connected. The employee journey process map is designed to show the primary activities and their owners in this journey. This is a high-level process map from which more detailed process maps can be developed to support specific activities, for example onboarding.

Like the overall process, each task in the activity also has an owner and purpose. The exception to this is when the entire process is the responsibility of a single person, in which case there are no swim lanes for different people or departments. Beyond the basics of OPT: owner, purpose, and tasks, you can add additional task-specific attributes such as time, cost, and legal checkpoints.

And finally, as promised, the boss monster: workflow automation, which is a lot simpler than it used to be but still not for the faint of heart. Automating procedures is not necessary for every checklist, just the ones people other than the owner need to check progress on, and of course those that are part of any potential audit trail. Hello healthcare industry! For the employee journey there are going to be many stakeholders who want to know aggregate indicators for recruitment, onboarding, training, etc. For example, the hiring manager may want to see how many applicants are in the pipeline, and what stage they are at.

Workflow automation deserves its own post, but here are a couple of quick pointers: if you use an application like Slack or Microsoft Teams, you may be able to do simple workflow automation just using those applications or perhaps some of their add-ons, which are legion. If you don’t have those apps, check out an online workflow automation vendor like Process StreetKissflow, or Smartsheet. Take advantage of their free demos to see if their solution is right for you.

This post is part 5 of 5:

  1. Macro, meso, and micro management methodologies;
  2. Example of a balanced scorecard for healthcare;
  3. Use a strategy map to show how value is created in a health clinic;
  4. A process map for the employee journey;
  5. Procedure checklists and workflow automation (you’re reading it!).

Thanks for reading, and good luck in all your management methodologies!