Workflow is a series of events, often performed by people or groups of people. Workflow can be as simple as placing a customer's paper order into the next person's in-box or as complex as building an airplane. If Boeing didn't have a sophisticated, computerized workflow system it would be nearly impossible to build its new 777 model airplane.
Proper workflow systems are an organization’s
defined internal processes. Workflow is powerful because each step or person has a clearly defined task, which can be repeated. Workflow systems are a way to measure the operational efficiencies of your organization. They create a transparent operation that can be measured and viewed by everyone within your organization.
Why is workflow so important?
Workflow enforces consistency in the organization’s processes.
Most traditional workflow systems are reliant on the individual to identify and start a workflow process rather than a dynamic, event-driven, integrated system.
The problems caused by traditional approaches to workflow are exacerbated by the number of people and departments the business processes can cross.
When is a workflow system necessary?
If you have a business process where different steps can be completed seperately, a workflow system allows multiple people to work on their own sections at the same time, often speeding up the entire process considerably.
How does it work?
In the most simplistic terms, imagine your email inbox showing a list of all the tasks in a process that you need to complete. Once you complete the step, you simply mark it completed and the task goes away.
The biggest benefits to workflow systems are things don't get misplaced; you can track how long it takes people to complete their tasks; you can create reports or dashboards (like the one on the right) to show statistics of each user and each step; and most importantly, they hold people accountable.