The terms workflow and process are used interchangeably but there is a distinction. A process is a broader group of actions that usually comprises workflows. A workflow is a set of repeatable steps that produce a specific outcome. Workflow management basically refers to the mapping and management of a particular set of tasks. It is about optimising and systematising work where possible to increase efficiency and eliminate errors. A workflow can include any number of steps and involve a mixture of people, systems, or hardware. Companies who manage workflows well are commonly driven by the opportunity to eliminate bottlenecks and improve overall performance.
Of course, even without an organised system of work, a company can get things done – as it has been happening for millennia. But with an organised approach, backed up by proper workflow management (preferably software), functional or joint teams can evidently become exponentially more collaborative, efficient, empowered, organised, and higher value driven. By mapping and documenting administrative or repeating work, teams and consequently organisations, can improve accuracy of work while reducing execution time. All stakeholders involved in any relevant workflow will know what needs to be completed and by whom.
So, Workflow Management reduces overall workloads while arming the organisation with much needed operational elasticity and easy onboarding. An efficient onboarding process is crucial in ensuring human capital retention and saving a significant amount of company resources. With workflow management, the completion of each task is prompted by automated notifications and approvals which eliminate the need for feedback and managerial attentiveness. At the same time, Workflow Management can help companies become more resilient from human capital fluctuations while increasing quality work. If done well, Workflow Management Systems can offer the following benefits:
- Mapping Work: The ability to define workflows during any work process.
- Predefined Stages: Steps are a predefined framework of tasks in the workflow.
- Automated Onboarding: Customised and automated notifications to stakeholders.
- Systems Integration: All workflows and processes can be connected with other solutions.
- Data Standardization: The ability to create forms to gather structured workflow data.
- Operational Efficiency: Document management capabilities and analyse performance.
- Work Analytics: Advanced reporting features that provide insights into performance.
- Easy Administration: The ability to grant access permissions to external stakeholders.
Occasionally, people might confuse CRMs, ERPs and Workflow management systems. However, Workflow Management Systems strictly focus on the task-level while other solutions can help organisations to improve a sole process or an entire set of business processes. Workflow management involves organising, documenting, tracking, and optimising a company’s team’s tasks to make sure they produce the highest quality of work as easily and effectively as possible. Essentially, workflow management means planning and delegating what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, how it needs to be done and who needs to do it. These are everyday management tasks, but imagine running numerous workflows, with numerous processes for numerous functions without having a way to manage how everything gets done. This is how most companies work today. Maybe the work gets done, but it’s done in a pretty challenging way.