Meaning of Workflow Management, Benefits & Types

Workflow Management is the process of identifying, managing and synchronizing a specific set of tasks that result in a specific outcome.

10 min
Meaning of Workflow Management, Benefits & Types

Simplifying processes and using automated workflows is a crucial part of supporting productivity, efficiency, and profit margins in today's growing businesses. That's why workflow applications have become a valuable part of the modern tech stack. 

The purpose of these apps is to automate certain tasks within business processes while streamlining any necessary human interaction, such as data upload, approvals, or transfers. To help you decide if it's time to find a tool to give your workflow meaning, here's a closer look at how they work. 

Meaning of Workflow management?

If you feel like workflow management is just the buzzword of the day, think again; workflow management tools have long helped organizations improve efficiency, but with the rise of automation, they're also allowing businesses to minimize human involvement.

Workflow process refers to the series of stages required in moving from the beginning to the completion of a working process, whereas Workflow Management refers to the identification, administration, and synchronization of a specified set of tasks that create a given outcome.

While process automation might be a key focus for your chosen solution, there are some other fundamental tasks it must also handle to give your workflow meaning.

Ideally, your business process management engine or tool of choice supports workflow mapping with visual tools like flowcharts to help your team identify areas for improvement, support onboarding processes, and understand the series of steps in complex workflows.

This helps you figure out the meaning of your workflows and offers direct benefits.

For example, by mapping entire workflows, you can more easily spot bottlenecks in processes that slow down labor along with repetitive tasks that could be condensed to save on time and paperwork.

Simply asking about what the meaning of your workflows is can help your business along. From that point forward, you can tap into the other automation tools and features your solution offers to make an impact on your key metrics. 

When trying to give your workflow meaning and measure the success of your solution, some of the metrics you might track include how long it takes to complete certain processes, the number of errors, and the amount of human involvement necessary for any given workflow.

The best workflow management software, when implemented properly, will reduce all of these metrics. 

Benefits of using Workflow management

Before you assume that automation and artificial intelligence are the best features of a workflow management tool, it's important to evaluate all the other elements that you could leverage.

While automation is extremely powerful, there are many benefits of using a workflow management tool that goes beyond the ability to save time or reduce human input.

1. Clear up communication

Before you even work to optimize or automate anything, a workflow management tool can reveal valuable insights into your business.

Once processes are entered into your workflow management system, team members will begin to have a better understanding of the meaning of workflow. They'll also begin to know where they stand in complex processes.

Additionally, they will know who to go to when they need help or information about a specific step.

Sharing the "big picture" view of the meaning of your workflows clears up communication for those involved and it also leads to greater transparency and trust amongst your team.

By powering collaboration and helping each individual understand where they fit into the overall plan or goal, you can reap immeasurable rewards in areas like workplace morale. 

2. Support compliance goals

Regulatory compliance, especially when it comes to how data is accessed and utilized, has become a major point of focus for businesses of all sizes. Unfortunately, it does put an administrative burden on smaller organizations, which is why having a tool that can support compliance is highly valuable.

Workflow management tools help to provide transparency into your organization's processes along with who is involved in each area.

In turn, this can support your compliance goals by creating accountability. Additionally, the opportunity to reduce human error can support data quality initiatives, which is foundational to good data governance. 

3. Reduce operational costs

Automating tasks using your workflow management tool can directly reduce costs by eliminating some human labor and allowing your team members to focus their efforts elsewhere.

However, that is far from the only way that the right system can help reduce operational costs. By finding the meaning of your workflows, you can step back to ensure they are not redundant or counterintuitive in the grand scheme of things. 

Leveraging a management tool gives you a better understanding of the meaning of your workflows, which means better insights into the underlying business processes and the chance to identify redundancies, bottlenecks, and room for improvement.

That's how you can reduce costs by finding the meaning of your workflows.

Types of Workflow applications

Given that there are so many different types of workflows, it makes sense that there are many different types of workflow management tools designed to help manage each one. To follow are examples of workflow types you may need help managing. 

1. Process Workflows

Process workflows are the most familiar to the average person and they're also the most predictable. A process workflow illustrates how a given task is completed.

For instance, it can demonstrate all the steps involved in publishing a new article on the company blog or paying a supplier's invoice.

Since they are generally unchanging, process workflows tend to be the simplest to illustrate (and the simplest to solve using even a basic workflow management tool).

There can be variables that change the process slightly from one scenario to the next, but it's usually nothing too complicated compared to the variables in some other types of workflows. 

2. Case Workflows

Case workflows can be the most difficult to illustrate because it's possible that no two are exactly the same. You can imagine that a case workflow illustrates how a specific problem should be solved.

For example, if you're looking for a workflow app to manage customer support tickets, you'd want a case workflow.

Since every support ticket that comes through your support department may require a different process to resolve it, case workflows help move things along even though the exact path is not known from the beginning.

In other words, case workflows determine the next steps as moves are made. So, finding meaning in case workflows is one of the more difficult tasks for you to conquer.

3. Project Workflows

Project workflows are designed for the management of a given project, be it short-term or long-term. Oftentimes, the creation of a project workflow begins with a list of all the deliverables that the project manager wants to see upon the project's completion.

From there, they work backward to determine the steps and personnel involved.

Exceptions, changes, and delays happen over the course of a project, which requires the project workflow to be altered slightly.

However, any known alternative or additional steps should be noted in the workflow from the beginning to provide the most transparency. These workflows are typically easy to manage since they're constrained by the needs of a single project. 

Find the best solution for your business

Ultimately, workflow management tools have always been valuable to businesses, but with the rise of automation, they're only becoming more desirable.

Whether or not you have attempted to automate business processes for your organization, finding a workflow automation tool that works for your team can offer a myriad of other benefits — including better collaboration, communication, and compliance.

So, if you're looking for the right workflow management solution to help your organization tap into the latest best practices in efficiency and control, it might be time to partner with an industry expert that can help you find and implement it.

After all, there are so many options on the market that it's important to take a step back and evaluate your organization's needs before investing in a new tool's implementation and adoption.

Reach us and let Adservio's team of experts help you find and implement the right workflow solution that fits best your business needs.

Published on
May 19, 2022

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