No-Code Workflows Need Walkthroughs

Large orgs in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors all like the workflow approach to custom application development. It isn’t hard to understand why. Here are 3 big benefits:

  1. Dollars are better spent equipping lines of business (LoBs) with the software they need to build their own solutions than would be the case if comparatively high priced consultants are brought in to hard code the deliverable. Simply put: the “teach a man to fish” cliché applies here
  2. Checking quality, debugging, documenting and other related tasks are all much easier when “no-code” tools like Oracle BPM or Microsoft’s Visio play the IDE part for “citizen developers”. Big benefit? The enterprise can recoup its development investment should personnel change.
  3. Custom solutions built with workflows with LoB “citizen developers” leading the charge do a better job of servicing the specific needs of LoBs and other silos within the organization. Who could do a better job of designing departmental solutions than the users themselves?

“Great to hear. So how do we get this going?”

First, a deep breathe is required. Despite all of the benefits of building solutions with workflow tools, users still might not use them. If they don’t use them there is zero return on investment (ROI). Better to learn this sooner, than later (meaning after lots of development hours have been spent building workflows).

Software of all types require adoption campaigns. Get used to it. If users already have a way of getting something done, they will need to be persuaded to adopt a new way of doing it — a fact of life in the enterprise computing world. Orgs considering a decision to implement workflow for custom application development have to include an adoption component.

Enter walkthroughs (meaning 1–2–3 guides designed to onboard users to new procedures). Here is an example of what a walkthrough looks like published into a Microsoft SharePoint 2016 user environment:

Copyright March, 2017 Rehmani Consulting, Inc. dba VisualSP All rights reserved. No reprint without written permission

The walkthrough is the rectangular box (commonly referred to as “bubbles” in the trade), in the screenshot above with the “Add documents” heading. Notice the “Use the Document webpart to add documents right from the team site page” instructions directly below the heading. No need for users to call the support desk to figure out a feature when a walkthrough step can be added to the page as per the image above.

Sequences of walkthrough steps can be used, successfully, to onboard users to the procedures required to use custom applications built with workflow.

The example shown above is built with a Walkthrough Builder tool marketed by VisualSP(R). VisualSP’s Walkthrough Building tool is included in its VisualSP Training Solution for Office 365. If you are interested, you can register to download a 30 day trial.

Please let me know what you think if you decide to test it.