Henry Ford

Henry Ford

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What we’ve been talking about for the last 6 years

Workflow Tag Cloud

By looking at the tag cloud in the side bar of this blog, it was interesting to note the keywords that were frequently being used in the context of workflow.

It got me thinking – apart from ‘workflow’, why do all other tags appear to be of equivalent size, which would indicate they are of equal importance?  I was not convinced because how could ‘random ramblings’ be considered as equally important as ‘business process management’!

If you are not already familiar with tag clouds, the way they work is by grabbing the keywords from within a website to create a visual representation by arranging them according to their importance. It emphasizes the key tags by making them larger and typically darker in color.

Although the existing tag cloud served its functional purpose, could it be improved to make it appear more interesting and the important tags to stand out more noticeably?

I was able to stumble accross Tagxedo, a tag cloud generating website that allowed you to submit your website to generate a tag design. It automatically identifies the key tags and allows you to customise the appearance of the image through various settings. After a few attempts, this is what I was able to come up with.  This appears to be a much more accurate representation for this blog’s content!

As suspected, it identified ‘workflow’ as the largest tag since it can be found in almost all of the blog posts since the the first in 2006. Other closely related tags include business, process, software and web which are agreeably far more valuable than ‘random ramblings’.  Which raises the question – what are we not posting about that we should be?  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts…

On naming software…

As mentioned in previous posts, we’re going through a process of launching a new product specifically designed for SMEs – which has gotten me thinking a lot about naming.  Many of our clients white-label Kontinuum – they develop workflow solutions within the Kontinuum engine, and give the configured solution their own branding which they then use within their organisations, or when re-selling the solution to their clients.  Sometimes, these names are brilliant – concise, catchy, and explain the app well.  So while I’m thinking about it, here are some things we consider when coming up with names for products:

1. Keep it simple – short, easy to remember, and easy to spell

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” – Albert Einstein

2. Make sure your name is unique – particularly in your industry (for all concepts), or across the board for all software.  This will help you to differentiate your offering without confusing the market or redirecting your users elsewhere.  This will also have the benefit of meaning you don’t have to compete with other companies or products for getting to page 1 on search engines, if you’re looking to re-sell your software

3. For the same reason, don’t name your product something too generic like a dictionary word – chances are you’ll need to add additional words (and therefore break rule 1) to explain what you do.  You’re also likely to end up low on any search ranking, at least for a while (notable exception – Amazon)

4. If possible, use the Meg Whitman rule and come up with a name that might be used as a verb (as in, “I’m going to google this”, “Can you xerox this for me”, etc)

“When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable” – Meg Whitman

5. If you can’t get the .com; choose another name.  It’s just going to be too hard for users to find your site.

6. Don’t name your product something too specific that you may need to to change as your product evolves or pivots (Roses Only is a great brand, but I wonder how many of their gift baskets and fruit baskets they sell?  The name would detract anyone looking for those products, as you would assume they don’t sell them)

I’m wondering if anyone has any notable examples of, or exceptions to, the above rules – or any more to add.  Please comment if you do!

Workflow for SMEs

In Australia in June 2011, there were 230,638 business with between 5 and 19 employees; and a further 81,006 employers with 20-199 employees; according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.  Businesses of this size struggle with process – they are large enough to deal with increasing specialisation of work; but the costs of specialised solutions (HRIS systems; Case Managment Solutions; Sales systems) can be prohibitive.  Often, this results in continuing with paper or spreadsheet-based systems well beyond the point at which they are efficient for those businesses.

The economies of scale to build and deploy workflows for an organisation means that it is typically large organisations who have the process knowledge, skills, and time available to undertake a process mapping and development process and to get the full benefit of a workflow automation process.  On the other hand, all organisations use workflow – the nature of work is that any process involving multipe steps or people can benefit from going through review and automation.  In many cases, this means that Small and Medium enterprises don’t get the benefits of workflow… despite being the largest category of employer.

Web and Flo, having worked with large and multinational organisations for over a decade, and an SME ourselves; have decided that enough is enough – and have started developing a library of best practice workflows that we will make available to SMEs for free, or on a subscription-model.  The idea is to consolodate the process information we’ve gathered over many years, and make the available to organisations that until now haven’t been able to benefit from BPM and Workflow Automation.  We’d welcome any input into what processes are the most painful for business as the outgrow their paper and spreadsheet-based systems.  Please feel free to comment in the blog or reach us at the Web and Flo website if you’re interested in learning more, or in registering as a Beta client.

Nice to meet you…

Hi,

It’s been a while between posts here at workflow.wordpress.com, and Craig, who started this blog, has invited some people from Web and Flo to post here.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be introducing some new posts to bring you up-to-date news about the kind of things we’re working on and researching here at Web and Flo.

Feel free to let us know in the comments if there are any topics you’d like to discuss with us!