Is your business still doing things the old-fashioned way? Everyone from business consultants to architects and designers use cloud-based workflows to track time, streamline billing and simplify project management.
Switching to a cloud-based workflow system could save your business some serious cash, not to mention eliminating logistical project reporting and billing nightmares. Workflow management software can help your business collaborate more efficiently, automate redundant tasks and ensure no task falls through the cracks.
For example, WorkflowMax, a cloud-based workflow system, estimates that the company saves each of its customers on average 628 hours of time and $22,000 every year.
Deciding which cloud-based workflow system makes the most sense for your business, however, isn’t always so easy. The following questions will help you narrow your choices:
Does It Include Time Tracking and Automatic Invoicing?
While most workflow systems offer a time tracking feature, some are more complicated to use than others. If billable hours are a big deal for your business (and a big hassle to track), look for a system that makes it easy to set up and report billables. Ideally the system will also offer a streamlined invoicing process for either hour or flat rate charges.
Automatic or bulk invoicing at the end of every billing period can improve cash flow and eliminate the need to mail paper invoices. A workflow system can also bring greater transparency to invoicing with deliverables tracking, so customers know exactly how much time was spent on each task.
Does the System Integrate With Other Software Solutions?
From Salesforce and DropBox to Google Docs and Box, how easy is it to integrate the workflow software with the systems your business already uses? Some workflow software options will also integrate with different accounting and payroll systems, like SmartPayroll and ZenDesk.
If your business has already dedicated time, energy and money into using one of these systems, you’ll want to ensure the workflow software you choose won’t end up complicating your payroll system rather than streamlining it. Conversely, if you’re currently using four different programs right now for everything from file management to time tracking, a workflow system will ideally eliminate redundancies.
How Easy Is It to Manage Users and Workflow Patterns?
No project ever goes as planned. If you need to change directions mid-project, how easy will it be to reassign team members or shift tasks? What about the ability to have a dedicated space for real-time collaboration and discussion? The right workflow system will be agile and flexible enough for successful use across myriad departments, including marketing, communication, product development, and sales.
Is the Platform Agnostic?
The "secure cloud" is no longer an oxymoron; it's a must for today's businesses. Agnostic cloud-based platforms work across platforms, including smartphones, tablets and browsers. This makes it easier to keep track of progress and shifting deadlines. An agnostic platform is especially important for managing more complex multi-phase projects and with less clearly defined workflows.
Across the board, most employees find that starting with a web-based version is easiest. Since a web app is already in the web browser, the workflow system isn’t something “new” that needs to be learned. Instead, employees report that with cloud-based systems, the workflow platform is typically one of the first tabs they open every morning so it’s completely natural to integrate it into daily workflow. A smartphone app can be a plus during meetings for real-time project updates.
Related Article: “Secure Cloud” is No Longer an Oxymoron
What Are the Payment Options?
Unfortunately, the best workflow platforms aren’t free. However, the right one shouldn’t cost your business an arm and a leg, either. Is a free trial subscription available to test out the different features? After this, do you have to be locked into a yearlong contract, or can you pay on a month-to-month subscription basis?
Some businesses may prefer longer contracts especially if these come with greater subscription cost savings. It just depends on how much flexibility your business needs.
Every business has unique workflow needs. Whether your business needs enhanced project collaboration for remote workers, easier time tracking and streamlined billables, flexible payment options, or all of the above, make a list of these needs before evaluating possible solutions. As you try different systems, see which option best aligns with your business’s current needs and has the scalability to grow with your business in the future.