In this article, we will be discussing what workflow management is and how it works. We will also be looking at the different types of workflows and how they differ. Finally, we will compare workflows and processes and explain their differences.
What is Workflow Management?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Workflow Management?
- 2 How Does a Workflow Management System Work?
- 3 What Are The Key Components of Workflows?
- 4 What Are The Different Types of Workflows?
- 5 What Is The Difference Between Workflow and Process?
- 6 When Should You Start Investing in Workflow Automation?
- 7 1. Persistent cash flow issues
- 8 2. Employees constantly indicating they are overworked or burned out
- 9 3. Customers are complaining regularly
Workflow management is a system that helps organisations to manage their business processes. It does this by allowing employees to create, monitor, and modify workflows with the help of software tools. Workflows can be made for sequential and parallel tasks and can be customised to suit the needs of individual businesses.
How Does a Workflow Management System Work?
When an employee wants to start a workflow, they will first need to create a document outlining the steps. This document is known as a workflow template. Once the template has been created, it can create new workflows or modify existing ones.
The workflow management software will then allow employees to track the progress of each task and ensure that all the steps are completed in the correct order. If any changes need to be made, the software will allow employees to make the necessary updates quickly and easily.
What Are The Key Components of Workflows?
Workflows are essential for organisations of all sizes. They allow work to be coordinated and managed more efficiently. Workflows typically have three key components: inputs, transformation, and outputs.
Inputs are the raw materials or data that are input into the workflow. Transformation is the process that transforms the inputs into something else, such as a finished product or a new set of data. Outputs result from the workflow and may include products, data, or other information.
Workflows can be customised to meet the specific needs of an organisation. However, some general steps are usually involved in a workflow. The first step is to gather the inputs and determine what needs to be done with the inputs – what the workflow should look like and how it should be carried out.
The next step is to determine who will be involved in carrying out the workflow, and once they have completed the process, whether their work needs to be reviewed or verified. There may be a quality control or review step as part of the workflow.
Input: The first essential component of workflows is input, which is essentially raw materials put into a system that finds patterns and relationships.
There are three main input types:
- Unstructured data such as text files
- Semi-structured data such as those found in databases
- Structured data such as spreadsheet tables and forms (analytics platform knowledge base)
Organisations also typically seek to improve their understanding of customer sentiment and interactions (CX), employee sentiment and interactions (EX), and the overall public social media landscape.
Transformation: The second key component is transformation, which is the process that changes or transforms the data inputs into something else. The type of transformation will vary depending on the type of data being input into the workflow.
- For example, unstructured data might involve parsing the text to extract specific information or identifying relationships between different words or phrases.
- Structured data can be transformed into a more useful format for analysis, such as a table or spreadsheet.
- And finally, semi-structured data can be transformed into a more usable form by defining specific fields or columns that contain the desired information.
For example, the semi-structured data might come from a customer database that can be transformed into an “analytics ready” format by defining specific fields in a spreadsheet.
Output: The third key component outputs result from a workflow process. This may include a document or report or even some form of structured or unstructured data output. Workflows vary based on their inputs and transformation processes, but generally, they produce something that can be used for analysis.
Workflows are generally carried out by different members of an organisation – whether it’s employees, customers, or another group entirely. There are certain steps that each person involved in the workflow must go through to ensure accuracy and quality. This is known as the quality control or review step.
The final key component of workflows is coordinating and managing all the different steps involved. This is done through experienced workflow management software, which helps ensure that everyone knows their role in the process and what they need to do to complete it.
Workflow management software also helps track the workflow’s progress and identify potential problems.
What Are The Different Types of Workflows?
There are two main types of workflows: sequential and parallel.
Sequential workflows involve a series of tasks that must be completed in a specific order. This workflow is often used for routine tasks that can be achieved easily and quickly.
Parallel workflows involve several tasks that can be completed simultaneously. This type of workflow is often used for complex tasks that require the input of multiple employees.
What Is The Difference Between Workflow and Process?
Workflows and processes are two different ways of managing business tasks. Workflows are a more visual way of managing tasks, while processes are more formal and structured. Workflows allow employees to track the progress of each task, while processes require employees to follow a set of predefined steps.
Workflows are less formal than processes and are better suited for tasks requiring creativity and flexibility. Processes are better suited for tasks that require precision and accuracy.
When Should You Start Investing in Workflow Automation?
“Organisations are losing money every day via inefficiencies that could easily be addressed through workflow automation.”
Unfortunately, not all businesses have adequate processes to navigate their daily workflows. Sometimes, bad habits can develop when companies fail to invest in proper systems and tools. This often results in employees developing inefficient practises or resorting to manual workarounds because the automated solutions aren’t there.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – most organisations can benefit from workflow automation. Here are just a few examples of why process automation is so critical:
Improperly processed orders lead to missed deadlines or even incomplete shipments for customers.
Employees doing repetitive tasks waste time and often make errors.
Inability to find information or access a document in a reasonable amount of time wastes resources and results in lost business opportunities.
Manual processes slow you down and distract you from more important tasks each day.
We live in an age of technology where automation is only getting more manageable, cheaper, and more effective for companies of all sizes – large enterprises are no exception.
And yet, many organisations choose not to take advantage of this fact because they don’t understand the unique benefits workflow automation can bring or how it works within their unique environment or industry.
Does that seem like your company? If so, keep reading to learn about three specific signs that indicate your organisation should invest in workflow automation.
1. Persistent cash flow issues
If you’re constantly struggling to make ends meet, it might be a sign that your organisation is haemorrhaging money due to inefficient workflows.
Research has shown that businesses can lose up to $10,000 per employee per year due to process inefficiencies. That’s a lot of money! Addressing these issues through automation can help get those funds back into your business where they belong.
2. Employees constantly indicating they are overworked or burned out
Overworked employees and burnout are not productive and are more likely to leave if things don’t improve soon. A recent study found that burnout costs U.S. businesses over $300 billion per year, so employers’ stakes are higher than ever to provide a healthy work/life balance for their employees.
Automation can help employees free up time to focus on strategic projects and take some of the burden off their shoulders, which will result in improved morale and lower turnover rates.
3. Customers are complaining regularly
The chances are high that your customers might be enjoying their experience with your business – but if they’re not, you need to know about it (and fix it) ASAP. If customers are making negative comments or routinely pointing out process inefficiencies, this is another clear sign that your organisation needs workflow automation now more than ever.
“Many organisations chose not to take advantage of workflow automation because they don’t understand the unique benefits it can bring or how it works within their unique environment or industry.”
If your company is experiencing any of the above signs, it’s time to invest in workflow automation. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll start to see results in terms of improved efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction.
Not to mention, you’ll be freeing up your employees to focus on more important tasks and taking one less thing off their plate.