Engineering and design teams often have a multitude of people working on any given project at the same time. Coordinating the tasks of multiple teams across departments within a company is hard enough, but many of today’s teams are spread out across the world and aren’t working in the same office. Having team members spread out makes it even harder to manage projects and keep them on track.

The best way to get a handle on project management is through optimizing and automating workflow processes.

Why Project Workflow Management is Important

Project workflow management ensures that all tasks and processes are run under the most productive circumstances possible. To accomplish this, processes are set up according to procedural rules designed to maximize efficiency and minimize errors and wasted time. 

In the past, workflows were managed manually. However, today’s technology allows for automating a majority of the workflow process. Automation makes workflow management exponentially more efficient.

An efficiently managed automated workflow results in:

  • Efficient and productive employees
  • Effective team collaboration
  • Reliable management of large files
  • Projects completed on time and to clients’ satisfaction
  • Better communication that results in fewer errors
  • Less time and money spent redoing work
  • Long-term client relationships
  • Client referrals
  • More revenue

What Project Workflow Management Involves

Engineering and design project workflow management is all about systems, and some of those systems include:

  • Cloud platform integration. Collaboration in the cloud is a critical component in managing project workflow. Cloud platforms – like Azure, AWS, and BIM360 – can be accessed from anywhere and any device with an internet connection. Many cloud platforms provide integrations to create seamless collaboration between internal and external team members working on a project.

    With cloud integration, there is no need for teams to worry about overloading the system, running out of storage, internet problems, having to be onsite for access, or losing track of data.

  • File/document management.
  • Project management.
  • Retention.
  • Versioning.
  • Documentation.
  • Project scheduling controls.
  • Data collection and interpretation.

  • Automation. Any part of a workflow that can be automated will be beneficial to the team. Some examples of automation include automating project information folder structure creation, consolidating files and data, and archiving that data. Another important form of automation includes automated scheduling for tasks and meetings, 

How Workflows are Created and Automated

Each team member has their own workflow designed to systematically move their portion of the project forward. Just like goal setting, a workflow is designed from the end result, working backwards to determine what’s required to meet the goal. For example, broad end goals are defined first, then milestones are created that, when reached, indicate the project is on track. Individual tasks are then created by asking the question, “what tasks are required to meet this milestone?”

Automating workflow processes requires the following steps:

  • Identify all repetitive processes. What tasks and processes do team members perform repetitively that could be automated? A simple example would be responding to emails asking for general information. Chat bot replies are easy to automate by programming responses according to keywords. For example, if a customer asks, “do you accept returns?” you can easily program an automated response that answers the question and provides a link to the company’s return/exchange policy.
  • Define automation goals. What do you want to achieve from automation? Are you trying to save time? Reduce the burden on a certain set of employees?
  • Train team members. Whatever automation you come up with will require training to implement successfully. To train people to use new automation tools requires explaining the benefits, not just how the new processes will benefit the company, but how they’ll benefit the individual.
  • Design the actual workflow. Workflows are created by using a workflow management tool like Microsoft Teams.
  • Measure results via KPIs and company ROI. Unless you measure KPIs and ROI, you won’t know if your automated workflows are helping. Make sure to define strong KPIs before implementing a new workflow system so you can identify where you are, where you want to be, and measure progress along the way.

3 Strategies to Develop an Efficient Engineering and Design Workflow Process

1. Use strong workflow management software

Software designed to automate workflow processes will keep teams on track better than any other manual process you can come up with. For example, when a deadline is approaching, an automated message can be sent to all team members to remind them at any interval of time you set. 

Also, workflow management software allows for real-time status updates so everyone can see where the project is at any given moment. When a task is completed, the entire team is notified. This makes teams exceptionally efficient.

Another benefit to using strong workflow management software is having access to the add-ons and features all in one spot. For example, using Microsoft Teams gives you access to a host of useful tools that increase team productivity like real-time chat, video conferencing, and the ability to start a conversation on a laptop and then pick it up on a mobile device on the go.

2. Use industry foundation applications

Using applications considered to be the “gold standard” in your industry is imperative for a successfully automated workflow that gets results. Some of those applications include AutoCAD, Revit, Bluebeam, and Bentley, just to name a few.

You can experiment with other applications, but you probably won’t find many that perform as well as what’s standard in your industry.

3. Get support from a managed IT service

Automating workflows for engineering and design projects can be confusing when you’ve always managed workflows manually. 

If you’re new to workflow automation, you’ll benefit from the managed IT services provided by Bluetowne. We have extensive experience with implementing, maintaining, and customizing IT infrastructure for engineering, design, and architecture firm leaders in industrial, civil, mechanical, electrical, architectural, and design industries.

If you’re ready to improve the efficiency of your team, contact us today to find out how we can help you automate your workflow to get the results you want.