Workflow Process: Guide to Getting Started

Workflow Process: Guide to Getting Started
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Tasks, processes, and information are passed from one person to another for action.

Businesses depend on workflow processes to ensure tasks are completed smoothly and efficiently from start to finish. However, the logistics of setting up and maintaining a workflow process can be daunting.

The term 'workflow' is a common one in business. It defines the sequence of activities that processes data sets. So, when information passes from humans to systems or vice versa, then that is workflow. Thanks to workflows, tasks go from inception to completion. Every business has workflows. Therefore, an enterprise must understand the concept of a workflow process and its place in daily operations. Learning the various benefits that workflow processes offer allows managers, project leaders and team members to get the most out of them.

So you’ve heard of workflow processes, but you don’t really know what they are and why they’re important. Workflow processes are needed in every industry, whether that industry is accounting or healthcare; essentially any business can benefit from the implementation of workflows into their daily operations. But how do you implement them? What do they entail? How does the workflow process improve the way your company works? That’s what this guide on the workflow process is for!

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What is Workflow Process?

Workflow process is a management process plan designed to facilitate efficient, high-quality work. A well-designed workflow process reduces costs, improves customer service and employee satisfaction, and leads to other business benefits.

A research page on workflow called "Workflow Management: From Process Modeling to Workflow Automation Infrastructure" defines workflow as a collection of tasks organized to accomplish some business process.

It refers to sequential activities that are necessary for the completion of a specific task. Typically, the process is linear and repeatable. It means that before the workflow begins, you know which actions or business rules to follow to achieve the desired goals. Business workflow processes can handle an unlimited number of items. Therefore, you can use a single workflow to process various elements with only a few variations.

Workflow processes differ from business processes in that the latter covers broader objectives. For instance, employee onboarding is a business process that aims to familiarise recruits with a company. This HR practice has various workflow processes, such as assigning an email address to an employee. Workflow processes are usually represented visually using workflow diagrams. This representation can be a stream map, flowchart or whatever is suits the circumstances. You can create workflow diagrams manually, but in most cases, workflow management tools are used.

How do you create a workflow process?

Businesses are complex operations. Having a streamlined workflow can help maintain that operation. Workflows differ from business to business. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. The concept of a workflow process has many advantages.

The first and most obvious advantage to using a workflow process is in terms of work efficiency. By integrating work into systems, employees will be more efficient at getting things done because they won’t waste time on repetitive tasks. And not only does it allow employees to get things done faster but it also saves money on labour costs overall by hiring fewer people to do more with fewer hours spent doing so. Another added benefit to using a good workflow system is accessibility for all users in any department or area within your company.

With a business-wide workflow solution, everyone – management and even customers – have access to important resources seamlessly across multiple departments and locations. Because each workflow task works together with other relevant tasks in order to create an end result if one step of a task fails you don’t have to worry about other steps failing as well.

Creating a workflow process is very similar to creating any other business system. All you need is some good old-fashioned brainstorming, planning and development of your ideas into an easily accessible, workflow process. However, unlike many business systems, workflow processes are meant to be dynamic as well as easy-to-use. They should be able to be used on a daily basis by anyone who may need them to accomplish certain tasks or access certain resources that may be needed.

Why is workflow process important?

The workflow process in a business is so critical that without it, a business could not exist. It’s how day-to-day operations flow from one department to another or even from one company employee to another. Without workflows, organizations are just going with their gut or failing miserably at accomplishing tasks at all. Luckily, almost any workplace can set up a solid workflow process with some guidance and attention.

What are examples of workflow processes? 

An example of a workflow is processing a new hire. This flow might start with sending a request for a new hire; followed by providing the applicant's information, submitting the necessary documents, generating a file, checking the required employment status, verifying the background, and so on until the chosen employee gets an offer and a start day is scheduled. Of course, this process flow varies from one organisation to the next.

Main Components of Workflow

A business process can be defined as a set of actions that are performed to achieve a certain goal. These actions consist of different steps, and these steps can be viewed as individual activities within themselves. Every action or activity is linked with one another in a certain order, and it is along with these linkages where workflow process come into play. The most basic components of any workflow process include 3 elements: Three basic components of workflow are- users, tasks and tools.

Certain elements characterise every process workflow, and you must know how to distinguish them. These are:

  • Input, Trigger or Activity - It refers to the starting point, a single logical stage in a workflow with a beginning and an end. This is a event that starts the workflow. Example: Action, a decision, a scheduled time, or a action to a condition/rule. When activities involve pre-determined rules, they classify as actions, and one activity can contain several.
  • Task, Transition, People or Action- The work is a series of tasks defining how a task/activity is executed and the people or technology that handle a workflow.
  • Output, Outcome and Results - The outcomes that each step produces in the flow.

To streamline business processes, businesses must have an understanding of all three essential elements before designing their own workflows. Businesses must also recognize what functions they wish to perform throughout their day to day operations and create workflows around those functions.

Benefits of Workflow Processes

Companies get value at different levels when they execute workflow processes properly. For one, workflows boost profitability and reduce costs. Since an enterprise establishes a standard approach to handling tasks, employees finish their work faster than usual. Organisations can achieve more with less, which translates to improved revenue.

Putting workflow processes in place negates the need for micromanagement because employees already know what to do in certain situations. Managers don't have to spend every minute checking on their teams, which can be counterproductive due to reduced morale. Instead, managers can dedicate their time and efforts to other critical areas of the business.

An organisation can improve communication between workers dramatically. The established processes indicate which communication channels to use for various needs. Hence, employees can stay on the same page with team members and the management.

When creating workflow processes, you can quickly identify the weaknesses in the system. By evaluating daily activities, you can tell what works and what doesn't, allowing you to eliminate inefficiencies. Removing wastages and redundancies creates room for improvement.

After defining workflows, strive to make them as efficient as possible. Automation is one way to get the best out of various steps in a workflow. For one, automated processes reduce manual entries, thereby saving time. Automation makes it easy to identify performance trends among employees. It also helps track team progress.

Workflow Process Software

With technology evolving so rapidly, it’s important to stay on top of the latest advancements if you want to improve your business and maximize workflow productivity. Workflow process has become more important than ever because it ensures that tasks are completed in an efficient and timely manner.

Every organisation should invest in workflow process tools that help digitise workflows for better management. This hope this guide has offered some tips to help you get started with workflows in your business to make them more efficient, streamlined, and effective.

Still have questions?
We’ve got answers.
What is Workflow?

Workflow refers to the flow of tasks. When you have to complete a series of activities to accomplish certain goals, and that is workflow. Repeatability is the defining factor of this concept. When you only do one unique thing to reach an objective, it doesn’t qualify. 

Read More: What is Workflow? Definition & Implementation

What is Workflow Management?

Workflow management is a way of creating and ultimately optimizing workflows to boost a team’s efficiency and coordination. It plays a crucial part in any organization and the optimization of its projects.

Read More: What is Workflow Management?

Why Standard Operating Procedures can help business?
  • Processes are top of the chain whether as workflows are smaller parts of a process.
  • Workflows are small parts of a process so needs a process to exist.
  • Processes don’t need workflows to exist
    Processes naturally occur within a business, whereas workflows require more planning.

Read More: What is the difference between processes and workflow?

What is Workflow Automation?

Workflow automation aims to simplify these tasks. Through technology and specific tools, a company can reduce the amount of time and effort it takes to complete these processes. A business has to identify the areas that require automation, then settle on the right applications to use.