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.
A fully functional digital workflow provides several key benefits to a company:
- Improved productivity
- Process transparency
- Faster business reaction time
- Improved accountability
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. Digital workflows empower business users and IT to work together to rapidly modify systems and processes to reflect changes in the business.
Types of Workflows
- Typically flow-chart based
- Progresses from one stage to the next
- Does not step back
State Machine Workflow
- Progresses from state to state
- Typically more complex than sequential workflows
- Return to a previous point, when necessary
- Implemented based on a sequential workflow
- Rules dictate the workflow progression
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.
Digital 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, digital 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.
Digital Workflow Examples
The following examples demonstrate digital workflows in various industries:
Workflows which govern HR-related procedures such as Starter, Leaver, Annual Review.
A workflow for a new client account, an approval cycle for an investment decision, an approval cycle for a mortgage or loan request.
Quality Assurance workflows such as non-conformities, complains, preventive maintenance.
A workflow which assigns tasks to agents who handle customer requests.
A workflow which manages a situation in a situation room.
A workflow which manages a client vacation, hotel reservation, flight reservation, etc. for a travel agency.