What Is a Workflow Management System

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How an organization manages its workflow can make or break its success both on a short-term and long-term basis.

While the term ‘workflow’ might be a relatively new buzzword in the business world, actually virtually all businesses throughout the world’s history have utilized the concept of workflow management ever since people began trading things. All companies have objectives, and workflows are there to guide the business in achieving these objectives.

However, implementing workflow management can be a complicated task, especially as your business grows bigger and involves more employees and stakeholders in each business process. Keeping track of how each employee works towards your business objective can be very difficult, especially if you have hundreds if not thousands of employees with a wide variety of different roles and purposes.

This is where a workflow management system can help streamline the process.

What Is a Workflow Management System?

A workflow management system is a software solution designed to help your business monitor, analyze, and optimize your business workflows.

In practice, this software solution allows managers and supervisors to keep track of everyone’s progress on different tasks. To fully understand this concept, we have first to discuss the term ‘workflow’, and ‘workflow management’ just so that we are on the same page.

Workflowis a sequence of tasks that are part of a business process that must be performed (typically, in the correct order/sequence) to achieve a specific business objective.

Workflow management coordinates these tasks to ensure the organization can achieve this objective as efficiently as possible. Workflow management is primarily concerned with the work performed by human employees, but nowadays, tasks can be fully automated without any human intervention. Thus, modern workflow management also considers IT automation systems integration as part of it.

Thus, a workflow management system provides a single app where everyone can track others’ progress on tasks. This, in turn, will improve the whole business processes’ efficiency and streamline the workflows.

A proper workflow management solution can help you manage and oversee every process in your business from a single dashboard. It also provides a place where everyone in your team can communicate with each other, promoting a more efficient collaboration process.

Why Automated Workflow Management is Important for Your Company?

Manual workflow management is a lot slower, and it is more prone to human errors, creating inefficiencies, and various issues. Effective communication and documentation are vital for any organization in implementing workflow management. When documentation is performed manually, time is often wasted on repetitive tasks prone to human errors.

A widespread issue caused by ineffective workflow management is for your employees to waste their time in miscommunication and inefficient bureaucracy. On the other hand, supervisors and managers can spend their valuable time inputting data rather than analyzing information for better decision-making. 

In general, there are two main solutions in implementing workflow automation:

  1. Creating your in-house automation platform
  2. Investing in an existing workflow management software

Unless you possess a capable IT/development team that can promptly create an in-house system and maintain it, the second option is typically more viable. Solutions like Approve can provide an affordable way to implement your workflow automation right away so you can:

  • Map out the tasks of each team member to achieve each objective
  • Assign roles and tasks to the right people
  • Ensure your team members fully understand what is expected of them
  • Promoting transparency and accountability in every step of the project

Top Features Your Workflow Management Software Should Have

  1. The ability to manage basic workflow patterns

It’s essential for the workflow management system to be able to manage basic workflow patterns such as:

  • Sequential tasks: tasks that are performed in a sequence where the latter task cannot be executed before the previous task is finished. We should be able to implement this rule quite easily with the workflow management system.
  • Optional tasks: the software must support optional branches and tasks that might not always be performed in each process
  • Parallel tasks: the capability to manage tasks that are performed by different people in different departments
  • Loops: for example, in the approval process when the stakeholder might request multiple revisions or changes to submitted work results
  1. Managing and automating approvals

A proper workflow management system needs to have built-in support for managing online approval processes including multi-stage approvals. 

  1. Agile workflow support

A modern workflow management system should support the ability to change running processes, tasks, decisions, and process data (i.e., data entry mistakes) on the go—the more flexibility offered by the workflow management system, the better.

  1. Built-in communications

The standard for today’s workflow management system is to have a built-in communication feature (i.e., chat messaging or @mention) so users can directly communicate over tasks in real-time. So, users no longer need to rely on emails and phone calls to discuss any issues around business processes and tasks. 

  1. Control features

A proper workflow management system should at least support the necessary control and security features:

  • Defining who can edit, view, and share files
  • Define which form fields are accessible by certain users. For example, the “approved/not approved” field should only be available for authorized approvers
  • Define allowed actions with each task and process. For example, a designer might have different allowed actions compared to a project manager
  1. Reporting

Obviously, it’s very important that managers can easily access all data stored inside the workflow management system.

  1. Customization

The workflow management system should be customizable to accommodate the different needs of various teams, and team members, including but not limited to:

  • Custom branding for your company logo, website address, etc.
  • Support personal tasks
  • Customizable according to your local conditions (custom holidays, currency, etc.)
  1. Mobile-friendly

With how most employees and stakeholders are now doing 50% of their work on the go, the workflow management system must be easily accessible on any standard smartphone/tablet.

End Words

Workflow automation can provide many different benefits to your business processes, from improving efficiency and effectiveness, keeping your staff happy and satisfied, and ultimately saving money and maximizing ROI.

Using workflow automation software by Aproove can make the process of implementing workflow automation much easier than ever. It has a simple but intuitive interface so everyone in your team can start building their workflows seamlessly while also offering powerful automation features to help you create an effective and efficient workflow.