A workflow is an organized step-by-step process used by a business to complete a particular task or project. According to Investopedia, “ Organizations use workflow to coordinate tasks, improve organizational efficiency, add responsiveness, and drive profitability.”
Workflows sometimes work in a linear fashion, in which each step is dependent on the completion of its predecessor. Workflows can also follow a parallel progression, where the various steps of a project are performed in tandem.
The goal of a workflow is to create an intuitive and streamlined process through which companies can maximize and ensure their productivity.
Workflows in an accessibility context
Workflows can be a useful way for companies to make sure that accessibility is part of their routine practices.
As we’ve come to learn over the past few years, the problem that many companies face is the fact that they don’t think of accessibility as “business as usual.” We’ve also learned that accessibility is more than just achieving a simple end goal.
Accessibility is about creating a broader awareness within a company. If there is a concrete “goal,” its to try to influence the atmosphere of a company to one where accessibility is considered at the onset of all projects and initiatives.
A workflow can help a company ensure that accessibility is consistently implemented.
Creating a workflow
When creating a workflow, it’s important to do so with the project’s end goal in mind. This applies whether creating an accessible product, designing an accessible feature for an app, or even launching a company-wide accessibility initiative. The steps of an efficient workflow have to cohesively work toward a greater end.
According to Kissflow, determining the necessary steps of a workflow isn’t too exhaustive. crafting an accessibility workflow requires the following:
Establish the project goal
Workflows help a team work toward some greater end. In the context of accessibility, this goal may be to design an accessible feature such as screen readers. It may also be for a company-wide accessibility initiative, such as adding subtitles to all company-related video content.
Whatever the goal, the project managers of a workflow team should have an intimate understanding of what it is they’re working toward.
Understand the company’s accessibility standards
When it comes to accessibility projects, the best way for workflow managers to understand their end goal is to pair the steps of their workflow against existing accessibility standards.
Many companies, such as Google, Microsoft, and IBM, have their own set of accessibility standards. Not all companies do, however.
What to do then?
What if the project itself is to create company accessibility standards?
If there are no preexisting accessibility standards in a company, the best course of action would be to follow already-established universal accessibility standards. These are Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Identify your resources
This refers to assessing the landscape of preexisting workflow processes. In other words, identifying recourses puts a spotlight on questions like:
How does our company handle workflows?
Do we usually design workflows digitally or with pen and paper?
Who usually oversees workflows?
By answering questions such as these, you can assess whether or not the current workflow system at your company is conducive to meeting your project goal.
This may seem obvious, but it’s essential nonetheless. Highly structured workflows are the best way to effectively reach the project’s end goal.
Assign roles to relevant team members
After determining which steps should be accomplished in a workflow, it’s time to assign team members to each individual phase of a workflow.
For instance, if your company is creating an accessible feature for an app, you would assign developers to integrate the feature into the app using coding.
Visualize the process with a diagram
Workflow diagrams present a visual trajectory of any workflow process. According to Kissflow, in addition to planning a workflow, diagrams are a useful method to track the workflow’s progress.
Train your team
Now that the team has been assembled, roles have been assigned, and the goal is clear, it’s time for training. In order to keep the machine going, all its parts have to work cohesively. Giving team members proper training gives them the necessary confidence to complete the tasks that they are assigned.
The goal here isn’t to necessarily train members how to do their specific jobs. Rather the focus should be on two things:
Understanding the goal of the project
How to work together to meet that goal
Test the workflow
Before you can launch the workflow, you are going to need to run it through some tests. Having trained all relevant parties, it’s time to actually see how well the workflow actually functions. To do this, you will need to put a dummy project through the new workflow system. Throughout the process, take notes and feedback from your team members
Deploy the new workflow
Once you are finished testing, your workflow is ready to be deployed. If all has gone according to plan, your company should have a streamlined method for deploying accessibility initiatives and creating accessible products.
Workflows are a great way for companies to streamline the way they design, develop, and deploy accessibility. To find out more about cohesively launching accessibility initiatives in a company, be sure to sign up for our upcoming events happening later this spring.