Excel is a powerful tool that many business owners like to use. From simple documentation to workflow management, managers seem to find Excel useful. Excel can be a great place to start creating and managing workflows.
But is it the most effective way to streamline and optimize your business processes? That’s what we’re settling today.
A workflow template in Excel typically includes these common features:
You should include a list of all the process steps involved in completing the workflow template. Each of these steps should be clearly defined and labeled.
The workflow template should identify the participants involved in each step of the process, as well as their roles and responsibilities. This can include job titles, names, or other identifying information.
You want your workflow template to include deadlines for each step of the process. This can include start and end dates, as well as any intermediate deadlines.
Any dependencies between process steps should be identified within your workflow template. For example, a particular step may need to be completed before another step can begin.
The workflow template should include a column or field for tracking the status of each process step. This can include information such as whether the step is in progress, complete, or on hold.
You should be able to include notes or comments in a field within the workflow template. This can be used to provide additional context or information about a particular process step.
Excel is highly customizable, which means that you can create a workflow process template tailored to your team’s specific needs.
You can add or remove columns, change the layout, and modify the formatting to suit your team’s preferences.
Excel offers several automation features, such as formulas and macros. This can reduce manual data entry and improve efficiency.
For example, you can use formulas to automatically calculate deadlines or durations. Otherwise, you can use macros to automate repetitive tasks.
Excel offers several collaboration features, such as shared workbooks and co-authoring. This makes it easy to work on a workflow template with other team members. This improves communication and collaboration, which ensures that everyone is on the same page.
Excel offers several reporting features, such as charts and pivot tables.
Using this feature can help team’s visualize data and identify trends or patterns. As a result, leaders improve decision-making and identify opportunities for improvement.
While Excel can be a powerful tool for basic managing workflows, there are various flaws with using Excel workflow templates:
While Excel does offer some collaboration features (co-authoring and shared workbooks), it can still be difficult to communicate effectively with team members who are not familiar with Excel. Additionally, there’s a risk of data errors and conflict if multiple people are working on the same Excel worksheet simultaneously.
Excel workflow templates may not be suitable for larger, more complex workflows that involve many process steps, participants, and dependencies. As the workflow becomes more complex, the Excel worksheet can become cluttered and difficult to manage, making it hard to keep track of all the information.
While Excel does offer some automation features, such as formulas and macros, they may not be sufficient for all workflows. For example, more advanced workflows may require integration with other software applications or the use of specialized workflow management tools.
Excel workflow templates can be prone to errors, especially if they are not set up correctly or if data is entered incorrectly. Small mistakes in one area of the worksheet can have a ripple effect throughout the entire workflow, causing delays and confusion.
While Excel does offer some reporting features, such as charts and pivot tables, they may not be sufficient for all reporting needs. More complex workflows may require customized dashboards that are challenging to create in Excel.
Workflow software is designed to automate many aspects of workflow management, such as routing tasks, triggering notifications and alerts, and generating reports.
Excel, on the other hand, requires more manual effort to achieve the same level of automation.
Workflow software is designed for collaboration, enabling multiple team members to work on the same workflow simultaneously, track changes, and communicate with each other.
Excel can also be used for collaboration, but it is not as well-suited for real-time collaboration as workflow software.
Workflow software can often integrate with other software systems, such as project management tools, customer relationship management (CRM) software, and accounting software.
This can help streamline workflows and improve data accuracy. Excel, while it can be integrated with other systems, may require more effort to set up and maintain these integrations.
Workflow software is often designed to handle complex workflows and large volumes of tasks, which can be challenging to manage in Excel.
Workflow software can also provide more detailed reporting and analytics, which can be useful for identifying bottlenecks and improving workflow efficiency.
Workflow software often provides more robust security features than Excel, such as role-based access control, audit trails, and data encryption.
This is especially important for workflows that involve sensitive or confidential information.
There are many workflow management software options available, each with its own set of features and benefits. Here are five popular workflow management software options:
Asana is a popular project and task management tool that can also be used for workflow management. It offers a range of features, including task assignments, due dates, commenting, and reporting. Asana can be used for team collaboration and is known for its user-friendly interface.
Trello is a visual project management tool that uses boards and cards to represent tasks and workflows. It’s a popular option for teams that prefer a more visual approach to workflow management. Trello offers features such as task assignments, due dates, checklists, and comments.
Jira is a popular software development tool that can also be used for workflow management. It offers a range of features, including issue tracking, project management, and reporting. Jira can be used for team collaboration and is known for its flexibility and customization options.
Wrike is a cloud-based project management tool that offers a range of features, including task assignments, due dates, calendars, and reporting. Wrike can be used for team collaboration and is known for its automation and integration capabilities.
Process Street is a cloud-based workflow management software that enables teams to create, track, and optimize workflows. It offers a range of features that can help teams improve productivity, streamline processes, and increase efficiency.
Some of the key features to look for when picking a workflow management tool: