Fundamentals of Workflow Management

Workflow Management

All businesses, big or small, always deal with at least one workflow, and the efficiency of the organization is determined by how efficiently this workflow(s) is executed.

However, optimizing interconnected workflows to ensure they are as efficient as possible can be quite a daunting challenge for many organizations, and this is where workflow management comes in. 

Workflow management is an act of mapping, analyzing, and optimizing workflows, to make sure they are executed efficiently. 

In this guide, we will discuss all you need to know about how to implement workflow e4p management in your organization to improve its productivity, and without further ado, let us start from the beginning. 

What Is Workflow Management?

First, we have to answer, “what is a workflow?”

We can define a workflow as a sequence of tasks in a work environment (i.e. a business), that when executed will achieve a specific objective. 

In a coffee shop business, for example, the process of making the coffee shop’s signature brew is a workflow, and the goal of this workflow is to serve the coffee to a customer. 

Workflow management, on the other hand, is the act of optimizing this workflow to make sure it is executed as efficiently as possible: using fewer resources in achieving its objective. Workflow management is often confused with the related term workflow automation

Workflow automation is an act of automating the tasks within the workflow (or the whole workflow) with technology, and while automation can be a part of workflow management, it is not always the case. There are cases when automation is not necessary (and even not ideal) to ensure the efficiency of the workflow. 

In practice, workflow management involves three main phases:

  1. Workflow mapping: creating a visual representation of the workflow in the form of a workflow diagram. Also involves the documentation of how the workflow is currently executed.
  2. Workflow analysis: analyzing the workflow diagram and the data gathered in the workflow mapping process to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and other issues. Develop an improvement plan based on the results of the analysis. 
  3. Workflow optimization: implementing the changes planned in the workflow analysis phase, and monitoring whether the changes implemented actually produce the desired results. If the workflow is not yet efficient, another round of analysis and optimization may be performed. 

Why Workflow Management Is Important

Proper implementation of workflow management is about ensuring the workflow is as efficient as possible, but it will also produce the following benefits for the organization: 

1. Improved transparency

An important benefit of workflow management is improved transparency into your workflow. 

By mapping your workflow into a workflow diagram and making the diagram accessible to the stakeholders, you can eliminate confusion on how the workflow should be executed, so you can standardize the workflow. 

Also, workflow management can help everyone involved in the workflow to understand what is currently being done, who’s doing the task, and what should happen next. 

Ultimately, transparency can encourage stakeholders to be more active in their work, which will improve productivity. 

2. Improved accountability

Mapping out the workflow appropriately can eliminate miscommunications between employees, which can be a major cause of inefficiency.

Workflow management can help eliminate a large part of this issue. With a standardized workflow diagram, every stakeholder knows what task needs to be completed, who is responsible for the execution, and when the deadline is. 

In turn, this improves the accountability of everyone involved in the workflow, and accountability will ultimately produce better productivity. 

3. Reduced risks of errors

Proper implementation of workflow management will help your organization streamline and standardize the workflow execution, which can mitigate compliance risks by reducing the possibility of human errors. 

The right workflow management software solution can embed compliance into every workflow execution, ensuring all the necessary steps to comply with relevant standards have been taken. The solution can also monitor the workflow execution to ensure information is transmitted correctly. 

4. Improved ROI

By ensuring workflows are optimal and efficient, organizations can use fewer resources to achieve the same objective while also ensuring employees are not spending their valuable time on redundant tasks. 

Optimal workflow execution through workflow management increases efficiency, which in turn will improve your ROI and deliver more value with each executed workflow. 

Choosing a Workflow Management Solution

In the implementation of workflow management, a workflow management solution is a technology solution that provides an infrastructure to help you map your workflow (in a workflow diagram) and create a comprehensive plan to accomplish the tasks within the workflow and track their progress. 

A workflow management solution like Aproove will also offer a centralized platform to facilitate team collaboration and communication in executing the workflow, improving productivity. 

While different workflow management solutions may offer different features and may emphasize different aspects of workflow management, here are some key features you should look for when choosing between different solutions: 

Workflow Builder

Facilitating workflow mapping should be a core feature of any workflow management solution. The best workflow management solution should offer an easy-to-use workflow builder whether you are creating a simple workflow diagram or a complex one. Ideally, the workflow builder should feature a drag-and-drop functionality that won’t require its users to have programming proficiency. 

Automated Notifications

An effective workflow management solution should be able to send you automated and personalized notifications as required to streamline communications and collaborations within workflow execution. The solution should remind stakeholders of upcoming tasks and approvals to ensure efficiency. 

Versatility

Each workflow is unique, thus an effective workflow management solution should be versatile enough in creating and managing workflows. You should be able to define, organize, and modify the workflow diagram so it can best suit each purpose. 

Reporting and Analytics

Clear and easy-to-use analytics and reporting features are must-haves for a workflow management solution to be effective. A comprehensive solution should make it easier to customize and share information as needed, allowing you to make better analytics-based business decisions. 

Integration

It’s crucial for your workflow management solution to easily integrate with your existing tools and apps. The average business can use more than 100 technology solutions across the organization, so ensuring the workflow management solution can work seamlessly with your existing systems is very important. 

Conclusion

An appropriate implementation of workflow management can allow you to standardize business processes and make sure they are executed as efficiently as possible, which in turn will maximize the ROI for each workflow.

Read also: How Business Process Management Transforms Your Business

Fundamentals of Workflow Management
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