WORKFLOW SYSTEM

Workflow Management System Software

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workflow management system wms

WORKFLOW SYSTEM

Workflow Management System Software

workflow management system wms
Get Started for Free

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What is Workflow Management?

Workflows are building blocks of business processes. A workflow is a series of tasks or actions that are performed in a sequential manner to achieve an end goal. For example, the procurement process is made up of workflows for purchase requisition, purchase order, and invoice processing. Each of these individual workflows is made up of several tasks like creation, review, approval, and routing to the following process.

Workflow management is all about managing and streamlining workflows for optimal output. Cutting out redundant tasks, ensuring resource availability for all tasks, and streamlining task sequences are the focus of workflow management.

workflow management system wms

Why Does Your Company Need a Workflow Management System?

In every generation, change is inevitable but hard to accept. The workforce in the 21st century has grown with computers, laptops, and smartphones. They utilize the power of the cloud to access data on any device and are dependent on their smartphones for work and personal tasks. With such a wide exposure to technological advancements, adopting a workflow management system shouldn’t be difficult. It is surprising that several businesses even overlook the need for a BPM tool or workflow software for business operations in their organization.

On the contrary, the industry requires a good workflow management system to manage workflows, monitor, and optimize business operations. A closer look at process workflows reveals redundancies and disconnected tasks. Unorganized tasks result in stacks of files and folders containing documents, receipts, invoices, leave applications, and forms. Even leading high-tech organizations may end up with unorganized documents, unstructured and disconnected tasks when they do not have a workflow management system in place.

What is Workflow Management System?

Processes form the core of business operations. Automating key business process workflows aligns business operations more closely to business goals. Workflows are a sequence of tasks that are executed with a goal in mind. Business processes may be broken down into a sequential path of tasks or workflows that are executed to achieve business goals.

All the problems faced by a manual workflow system are eliminated by automating processes. A workflow management system is a software platform that automates processes efficiently. Streamlined workflows improve key performance metrics and productivity of the business.

Workflow automation organizes and prioritizes a sequence of operations based on specific conditions and rules. Workflow management practices aim at analyzing processes and mapping out tasks to detect bottlenecks, delays, and design a more efficient and streamlined workflow process. Several discrete workflow software tools are combined into a single application that automates human and machine-driven tasks in a pre-defined path. Workflow management systems also help in connecting humans and systems seamlessly to achieve business growth.

The two main workflow types are

  1. Sequential workflows – The completion of a previous step is necessary for the execution of the next step in a sequential workflow
  2. Parallel workflows – Multiple tasks are performed concurrently, each one operating independently in a parallel workflow

From a business perspective, workflows may be categorized as

  • Priority workflows (Finance, HR, IT)
  • Customer-facing workflows (marketing, customer service)
  • Employee-centered workflows (HR)
  • Primary workflows (sales and marketing, Finance, HR, IT)
  • Subsidiary workflows
business process mapping

All the problems faced by a manual workflow system are eliminated by automating processes. A workflow management system is a software platform that automates processes efficiently. Streamlined workflows improve key performance metrics and productivity of the business.

Workflow automation organizes and prioritizes a sequence of operations based on specific conditions and rules. Workflow management practices aim at analyzing processes and mapping out tasks to detect bottlenecks, delays, and design a more efficient and streamlined workflow process. Several discrete workflow software tools are combined into a single application that automates human and machine-driven tasks in a pre-defined path. Workflow management systems also help in connecting humans and systems seamlessly to achieve business growth.

Why Should You Consider Using Workflow Management?

According to a recent survey, 31% percent of businesses fully automated at least one operation in their organization in 2020 (from 29% in 2018). In enterprise companies, 94% of professionals believe that they should use a centralized platform to integrate with their program and building workflow automation than rely on several applications.

If any of the following conditions are encountered in your business, you require a workflow management system to improve and streamline workflows.

1. Annoyingly Long Email Chains That Waste Precious Time

The most common and repeated mistake in every organization is that people try to use email as a communication medium for work. It’s meant to transfer information but should be used for short messages. Important work files often disappear in long email trails.

Besides, emails thread all related messages together but your employees will still find themselves with threads that run into 100s of messages, making the communication process inefficient. A workflow program can avoid this by maintaining a single source of truth, keeping track of all changes, displaying the latest version of a conversation thread, and save precious time spent going through a bunch of emails.

2. Manual Transactions Involving Too Many Spreadsheets and Excel Files

Another common scenario is where too many spreadsheets or Excel files are being exchanged between employees and teams. While GSuite and Microsoft Office 365 try to streamline the process by moving files to the cloud, it still doesn’t sync with an organizational scenario unless you have customizable workflow management software to keep track of the approval hierarchy.

Typically, every shared file folder will have over a dozen Excel sheets and your employees may not know the latest version that they need to work on. A workflow management system could put an end to all this by providing notifications, focusing on the latest version, and reducing the time spent by your employees to have their spreadsheets approved by managers.

3. If Your Workflow is Dominated By Legacy Systems

A majority of the organizations still rely on legacy systems that handle their files and documents and audit-related storage. Technology-driven employees, however, prefer modern-day cloud-based architecture to simplify work.

Businesses looking to migrate old data to a new system are haunted by the risk of loss or corrupt files. A cloud-based workflow management system ensures the security and safety of data while businesses transition from legacy to new-aged technologies.

4. When You Feel Your Workforce is Working Suboptimally

At some point, most managers, team leaders, and even CEOs might have felt that their workforce is not performing to its optimal capacity. They may have some reasons ranging from the manual way of working to lack of motivation from their employees. The biggest hurdle often is the technical aspects and it is mandatory to support your employees to deliver the best.

Train your employees on new technologies and give them more freedom by using workflow automation software. When important processes like leave management, document management, and the need to wait for the manager’s approval are automated, employees get more time to focus on their most important work. It also works well with vendors and suppliers through processes like purchase approval and invoice automation that result in faster approvals and an efficient supply chain.

5. If You Are Facing Privacy, Compliance, and Audit-Related Problems

Every start-up and established brand is worried about privacy and audit, especially in the current world of social media. Organizations are forced to answer to the government and public at large when any controversy related to users’ privacy erupts. It is paramount to maintain and audit all changes to memos and documents and store them securely for later use.

It comes as a great relief to organizations when a workflow management system does it all – from tracking every change to a document to generating/approving invoices. It simplifies audits, enforces compliance, and improves privacy, thereby ensuring that all laws of the land are followed strictly.

Features of a Workflow Management System

A workflow management system supports the management of workflows by automating tasks in a workflow for an optimized sequence of operations. An automated workflow system must include the following features:

process flow builder

Process Builder

An automated process flow is built using a process builder. A business process proceeds in a pre-defined task sequence that is governed by predefined business rules and conditions. A process builder illustrates these tasks & rules and identifies whether the task is repetitive, automated, human-centric, or from another system. You can create a custom workflow by using the drag and drop option to streamline workflows and replace manual steps with automated tasks.

rules engine

Workflow Engines

The decision-making component of the workflow system is the workflow engine. It makes decisions based on preset business rules. The decisions include actions such as routing requests to a specific user, sending an email notification, calling an external system via an API, or triggering an entirely new workflow.

reporting tools

Reporting Tools

A workflow system stores all the data and metrics captured during the process execution. Data and reports can be displayed on dashboards and can be made available to users. Real-time tracking and monitoring of process flow, request status, bottlenecks becomes easy with the reporting tools provided by a workflow management system.

third party integration

Integration with third-party applications

A good workflow management system ought to seamlessly integrate with third-party applications. APIs or webhooks or direct connects can be used to integrate the automated workflow with third-party applications.

formbuilder

Form Designer

Sophisticated, dynamic forms are built using a form designer to gather input from users. The input from the form builder is fed into the process for further workflow processing. Ideally, the visual form designer should provide a wide toolbox of field and data types to be added and customized.

self-service interface

Self-service interface

The workflow management system must provide a user-friendly interface for employees to log, monitor, manage, and track requests. Once the request is logged, it is routed automatically to Admin, IT, HR, Finance team, or Operations based on the workflow routing rules.

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workflow checklist

Checklists and Workflows

If you are thinking that checklists and workflows have similar functions, you are in for a surprise.

  • Workflow: It is a structured set of tasks that are executed in a pre-set sequence. Every time a workflow is run, a checklist is created. For example: consider the employee onboarding workflow. Each time you run the onboarding workflow for a new employee, a checklist is generated.
  • Checklists: They are dynamic. Running a checklist creates accountability within your department and empowers you with insight into task statuses.

You can implement conditional tasks in a workflow. Workflows can be easily backtracked to an earlier stage, while it is difficult to backtrack in a checklist.

Understanding Human-Centric, System Centric, and Document Centric Workflows

This section highlights the differences between human-centric, system-centric, and document-centric workflows.

  • Human-centric workflows are those that are run by humans. Tasks like data approval, request creation, and validating information are examples of human-centric workflows.
  • In the case of system-centric workflows, most of the tasks are handled by machines. These workflows require minimal or no human intervention. Tasks like the creation of financial reports, threshold-based and time-based workflows, etc. are examples of system-centric workflows.
  • Task management that revolves around documents or data is called document-centric workflows. Creating contracts for leasing workspace is an example of document-centric workflows. The events of a workflow need to be modified on the document and the end result, which is the lease contract captures all the workflow information including digital signatures.
what is a process
business process workflow mapping

Automated versus Manual workflows

Manual workflows are labor-intensive and ridden with inaccuracies and bottlenecks. Excessive paperwork is another drawback of manual workflows. Humans control the flow of tasks in a manual workflow and it is entirely dependant on the task owner to remember and complete the task.

For example, in the expense reimbursement process, the first step is the submission of the expense claim by the employee to the line manager. The follow-up of the claim is completely dependant on the employee and is done through email. Once approved, the claim details are submitted manually to the finance department for review and approval.

In the case of an automated approval workflow, the reimbursement form is submitted by the employee. This triggers notifications to the appropriate manager for approval. Once approved by the manager, the claim is automatically directed to the Finance team members for review and approval. Once the approval is done, the claim is paid out and an email is sent to the employee on the status of the claim. Tracking claim status is much easier in an automated process and the entire cycle time is significantly reduced.

The use of excel sheets or spreadsheets is minimal in an automated system. The time and effort spent by the employee in an automated workflow can be measured and improved.

Advantages of Workflow Management System

Apart from the obvious advantage of saving time and effort by automating process workflows, using workflow tools for your business has many advantages. Here are the advantages of automating process workflows:

  • Improves compliance of processes for audit trails
  • Improves process productivity and efficiency
  • Streamlines and speeds up internal processes
  • Mitigates the risk of fraudulent practices and improper approval of a request
  • Reduces the paperwork and the associated costs significantly
  • Reduces human bias and errors
  • Ensures efficient tracking of requests
  • Help identify process bottlenecks and rectify them

Questions to Ask Before You Choose a Workflow System

Choosing the right workflow software is an important business decision. The success of the implementation depends wholly on your choice of the workflow management system. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself before choosing the workflow solution.

  1. What are your business needs?
  2. What are the must-have features you expect from the software?
  3. How many users will be using the software?
  4. When would you be implementing the software?
  5. To what extent would you require support?
  6. What are the pricing plan options provided?

Having clarity on these questions will help you choose the right workflow management system that puts your business on the fast track to success.

Cflow is a workflow management system that eliminates all the issues that you would face in an organization while bringing about a drastic improvement in performance and efficiency. You can motivate your employees while streamlining tasks and paving the way for the growth of your organization.

When your employees can work comfortably using workflow management software, it improves accountability and reduces errors. It’s the stepping stone to successfully build brand value and a strong customer base.

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