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We’re not just a software company. We’re a quality company; and that means we love processes.

When we say “processes,” some people roll their eyes. But it’s really a matter of perspective. Some people see processes as restrictive. We see them as an agreed upon way to get the desired result, a way to ensure the desired result.

Bethany-MaddoxI see them as my pathway to “yes”. For support tickets, I see them as a pathway to the fix. We write processes as they are for a reason: efficiency. We put in steps that work; we remove the steps that aren’t helpful; we make required things that are essential; we make optional things that are just nice to have.

Why then were we skipping steps when escalating support tickets to our software engineering team?

Simple. Because we’re human. When left to our own devices, we’ll choose the path of least resistance. We think we know better than the process … even though we wrote the process ourselves! We think, this step doesn’t apply to this circumstance. There wasn’t anything helpful in that log file; there’s no need to attach it.

And here’s where the punch line of my favorite office joke comes in. “That would be a good workflow!”

It’s fun to joke about when we have trouble keeping the office refrigerator cleaned out …

Yet in the case of our actual business processes, it’s very true. We had been using a simple Word document for this process. We had a form we filled out and attached to an email. Sometimes we forgot to attach the file. Sometimes we skipped steps. Sometimes we lost visibility.

Then someone thought, “if only we had a way to make sure all fields get filled in with the right data. If only we could make sure the logs get attached. If only we had a way to track the progress of the issue.” These thoughts naturally led to a new workflow in Qualtrax!

Our new workflow was created by one of our software engineers. When I saw the first draft of the workflow, it was immediately clear to me what data was important for our engineers. It revealed to me that there were some parts of the process I didn’t understand. It gave our teams a central place to look for information to completely eliminate any need for status updates.

I think I’m in love … with workflows!

Since Qualtrax is our own product, we naturally have a lot of workflows in our system. I’ve used many of them. However, up until now, they’ve just been something I do.

I acquired my love for processes early on in my career. I just hadn’t connected the dots yet that a workflow is a process. But Qualtrax workflows go beyond simple processes because they make sure that I do the process right!Workflow Scheduler_2

Qualtrax workflows force me to enter data in the right format. They give me selection lists so that my data is easier to search and report on. They alert team members when the work is in their court. They track how long workflows have been open and can alert team members when workflows are not progressing.

The end result here is that the answer to our problem was sitting right under our noses. We use our product to have better communication, improve efficiency, and provide quality to our processes.

Now, about that refrigerator workflow … maybe we could integrate with an odor detection device to trigger the workflow initiation?

Categories: Process Management, Product, Quality Managers

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