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Friday, October 19, 2018

New to Copier Sales: Workflow Diagrams

"Workflow, that hot, new thing in the New Managed print Services." It's deja vu all over again.

The latest thing in MpS, not necessarily the newest thing, is "Workflow". You should be picking up  more chatter about workflow - you may even hear, "if you don't get into workflow, your dealership will die..." (Insert grain of salt, here.)

No doubt 2013 will see a BIG push of "workflow solutions": workflow software from providers  & workflow consultations from...consultants.

What does this all mean? What impact will this movement have upon the imaging industry, if at all?  Is this more hype, like color, digital, connected, and MpS?  Weren't we just evangelizing "managed network services"? (there is no such thing in the IT world, BTW)

For me, workflow/BPO has always been part of managed print services - part of the evolution, inevitable as the "p" in Managed print Services fades.

As we did so many years ago learning the ways of MpS, let's start with the basics: a standard, run of the mill, definition of 'workflow' -

"Workflow is a term used to describe the tasks, procedural steps, organizations or people involved, required input and output information, and tools needed for each step in a business process." - SearchCIO

Notice this does not specifically, or exclusively, refer to production printing workflow - Job submission can be represented as a workflow, but it is NOT the only example of workflow.

To some, the idea of defining how one does their job and daily business functions may sound complicated. Throw in the notion that workflow is usually expressed in the form of flowcharts, and the concept seems even more unreachable.

But it's not all that difficult to figure out.

All one does is determine how a process is completed, document the observed steps, and investigate bottlenecks.  As a matter of fact, if you've been selling copiers or printers or even MpS for any amount of time, I'm guessing you've embarked on the beginnings of workflow.

Let's take a look at an example, a purchase requisition (yawwwwwn). The following chart reflects a very basic process from requisition to purchase order:

This is a pretty straightforward flow with no deviation. Notice how the arrows suggest a motion or flow from one rectangle to the next.  All flowchart shapes carry specific meaning - rectangles are processes, diamonds decision points, and so on.

Of course, workflow diagrams can become pretty complex and detailed.  Below is a workflow chart for a system relating to data entry.

You can imagine how detailed a workflow diagram can get.

For me, it was always easier to jot down a quick workflow on the clipboard, binder, or today, on the tablet.

Here is an illustration of the decision process involved in installing a DCA, outlined on the Pad:
It makes sense to me so converting to Visio is a snap:

Approximate time to create, 12 minutes.
This isn't rocket surgery, scratching out drawings is just the beginning.  Apply your business acumen, a little software, and professional consultation into the equation, ultimately exchanging your knowledge for value.

How do you develop the ability to recommend and provide workflow systems to your existing MpS clients?   Is it too much to get into?  Can be. One thing is for sure, this isn't "hype" or "noise" - those who say so, do not get it - fain attention, then go back to work.

Welcome to the beginnings of Workflow. You won't get this stuff at the Monday morning sales meeting.

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