Work, in any industry, is defined as the tasks and actions that drive a business from day-to-day operations through long-term goals.
Trying to learn more about the work in your company being performed is a must - successful companies everywhere understand this. Most businesses will never succeed with a set-it-and-forget-it mentality towards their employees.
This has resulted in a new wave of consultants and industry specialists looking for more creative ways to glean insight regarding the tasks being accomplished. Managers, executives, and analysts have a tendency to quantify work immediately: x tasks/hr, x dollars/task, etc.
There is a crucial step that is missing from this quantitative analysis, however, that can often be easily overlooked.
The need for metrics and accurate empirical data is critical, however it means very little without understanding what work is being done, how it is being done, and why in both regards.
The "what" aspect is usually rather easy - if an analyst can't determine what work is being done, there are some serious problems in the organization!
If you're having a hard time determining what work is actually being done on a day to day basis - consider a split approach to the problem. Look at whatever the finished product is that has been quantified, and start moving backwards. How did it get into that particular spot, with that particular detail? Questions like this will start working you back through your own processes.
To double-check yourself, talk to employees and work forwards from the onset of a single order, task, or instruction. Whatever it is that triggers work and workflow from the worker, that's going to be your jumping-on point for where the process begins, and how it begins as well.
Which is the other critical point of the quality analysis of the work in your company - how is the work being done? You may know how many of "X" task was accomplished each weak, but do you know exactly how those tasks are being accomplished?
If there are complex business rules and parameters for completion set up, how do you ensure that employees are following them?
This is where workflow automation becomes critical - by tracking the tasks in a process and giving them values such as the time completed, time spent on a task, and others at every step of the process you now have an accurate and deep representation of how the employees are working in a process.
An especially important part of this wide-angle view is that you can now see how work is being done BETWEEN employees - that intangible part of the process where work has ended for one employee, and not yet begun for another - where is the task or document? How does it move and how are employees notified?
Often, this is a huge time and resource waste in large companies without some kind of document and process automation system. Implementing a system and improving process is a fast-track to overal improvement throughout the company.