Manage Workflow Risks

I had a great discussion with a senior leader wherein he was ready to unfurl a flag of new workflow over a variety of departments and units. His excitement over the first few steps involved in describing his current state of business process was infectious. Therein lies the problem.

Pause and Reflect on Risk
When we stopped the discussion long enough to share candidly what we each viewed as the risks inherent in NOT making changes AS WELL AS in making even the best changes/improvements, his tone changed considerably. We then started into a Risk Log. Now, experienced software developers and engineers are well-versed in the use of Issues and Risk Logs. Small business and non-IT folks who are working on business process improvements for the first time need a thoughtful introduction.

Risk Logs (and Issue Logs)
Articulating the risks and issues associated with the current state as well as future state is crucial. Spend some solid time on this aspect of the work you’re doing. Consider your risks along these lines:

  1. What are the legal risks? What are the consequences of making/not making changes?
  2. What are the financial risks? Budget issues?
  3. What are the training issues?
  4. What are the time constraints?
  5. What are the quality issues? What are the consequences of failing to address them?
  6. What are the political risks? This is especially true for government agencies.
  7. What are the risks associated with the organization’s reputation? PR risks?
  8. What are the physical risks? Dangers? Accidents?
  9. What are the Human Resource and Personnel risks?
  10. What are the cultural and social risks?
  11. Are you considering the perspective of leaders, investors, managers, line-staff, the public and the all-important Customer?
  12. What are the interdepartmental and resource allocation risks?
  13. What are the infrastructure and IT/IS risks?

The list goes on. Risk Management and planning (contingency) for crisis and business continuation is a critical step for anyone managing workflow changes. No matter how cool you think the changes are!

Outside Perspective

Reviewing these and other issues is best accomplished when the perspective includes an outsider. Consider hiring a consultant or bringing a professional in from another department or company. An attorney can be a big (although expensive) help as well.

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