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What is a Workflow?
Workflow is the definition, execution and automation of business processes where tasks, information or documents are passed from one participant to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules.
Organizations use workflows to coordinate tasks between people and synchronize data between systems, with the ultimate goal of improving organizational efficiency, responsiveness and profitability.
Video – What is a Workflow?
The following 3 minute video explains the concept a workflow using visual examples:
Workflows automate the flow of employee tasks and activities, reducing the time the process took to complete as well as potential errors caused by human interaction.Workflows makes processes more efficient, compliant, agile, and visible by ensuring that every process step is explicitly defined, monitored over time, and optimized for maximum productivity. Given optimal, up-to-the-minute process data, managers and employees can take quicker action and make smarter decisions.Workflows empower business users and IT to work together to rapidly modify systems and processes to reflect changes in the business.
There are three different types of Workflows:
Sequential Workflow (Typically Flow Chart based, progresses from one stage to next and does not step back)
State Machine Workflow (Progress from ‘State’ to ‘State’, these workflows are more complex and return to a previous point if required)
Rules-driven Workflow (Implemented based on a sequential workflow. The rules dictate the progress of the workflow)
Workflow Software – Best Practices
To be successful, organizations are required to adapt and customize their IT environment to meet various customer demands. These demands often arise from the need to improve collaboration, communication and coordination. Addressing these issues usually always involves process analysis and change. IT departments are thus challenged to provide solutions that enable the business users to retain control of their business logic. Meeting the combination of these challenges cost-effectively ultimately requires BPM functionality.
Workflow software provides organizations with strategic technology capable of creating and executing cross-enterprise business processes. Workflows can be deployed, monitored and continuously optimize cross-enterprise functionality within a mixed environment of people, content and systems.
During the years, workflow technology has evolved from just workflow automation, which has been focused on automating human centric processes, through Enterprise Application Integration, which is focused on the exchange of information between heterogeneous systems, through Business Process Modelling and Analysis, which is focused on gaining a detailed understanding of business processes and the potential impact of changes to those processes, through Business Activity Monitoring, which is focused on analyzing the efficiency and effectiveness of business processes and activities, to BPM that supports the complete process improvement cycle, from definition to implementation, monitoring and analysis, and through ongoing optimization.
The following examples demonstrate workflows in various industries:
• HR: Workflows which govern HR-related procedures such as Starter, Leaver, Annual Review.
• Banking: A workflow for a new client account, an approval cycle for an investment decision, an approval cycle for a mortgage or loan request.
• Manufacturing: Quality Assurance workflows such as non-conformities, complains, preventive maintenance.
• Customer Service: A workflow which assigns tasks to agents who handle customer requests.
• Defence/Emergency: A workflow which manages a situation in a situation room.
• Travel: A workflow which manages a client vacation, hotel reservation, flight reservation, etc. for a travel agency.