Workflow Analysis as a Product Management Approach
Recently we explored the strengths and weaknesses inherent in using Capturing the Voice of the Customer as a product management approach. Today, we’re going to consider the second of the three product management approaches: Workflow Analysis
Product Managers Taking a Deep Dive into a Client’s Processes
In thinking about Workflow Analysis, it’s important to remember that what we’re really talking about is analyzing how a client’s business processes can be altered to better meet the company’s business objectives. This can include digging deep into everything from the processes the client uses to pay bills and manage employee benefits to the process for handling customer complaints and beyond.
A Product Manager’s Goals in a Workflow Analysis
As a product manager your goal in conducting a Workflow Analysis is to understand how your customer gets things done. Workflow analysis can also identify problems so you can help solve them.
To successfully achieve this, you’ll need to spend significant time with your customers. Your goal in meeting with customers is to literally map out their work processes in detail. By detail I mean you’ll need to not only capture steps taken to reach the desired outcome, but also the staff and outside players involved in the process and how they interact.
Done thoroughly and correctly, this process will yield new ways to improve products and/or add new products and services. It will also help solve your client’s most vexing business challenges.
Multiple Clients, Increased Benefits for the Product Manager
In working with different clients, you’ll start see patterns emerging. These emerging patterns give product managers insight into hidden marketing opportunities.
Your knowledge of product management coupled with the mapping information you’ve collected has the potential to transform how your customers go about reaching their most important goals.
In addition, the information you gather during the Workflow Analysis is extremely valuable. This knowledge can help you make your company’s marketing and sales operations more effective.
Product Manager Tips for Using Workflow Analysis
When getting started with a Workflow Analysis document every step of your customer’s workflow to set a baseline. With the baseline set, you’ll be ready to help your client reduce inefficiencies and ideally save time and money.
New technologies often spark huge improvements. The adoption of digital technology to replace paper-based processes in the medical field is a case in point. It improved communication, medical record-keeping and patient care – a victory on every level.
Once you’ve fully documented the workflow process, you will likely see redundancies. Identifying these issues may allow you to streamline and shore up the process. The outcome of the Workflow Analysis approach is often a win-win for everyone involved.
The very nature of implementing the Workflow Analysis approach with a client results in you and your company becoming deeply embedded in your client’s business processes. It naturally creates a co-dependent relationship. Such a relationship demands a high level of trust between the two organizations. Otherwise your client will not feel comfortable sharing in-depth information about processes.
To be allowed to pursue the Workflow Analysis, it is vital that you be able to demonstrate significant value to both your own company and your client’s. Otherwise, it’s likely not going to be considered worth the investment.
In my next post, we’ll look at the third and final approach to product management: Outcome-driven Innovation.