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What is Workflow Management?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated May 16, 2024
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Workflow management is a system of overseeing the process of passing information, documents, and tasks from one employee or machine within a business to another. Through the proper use of this system, each of these employees or machines will pass the work on according to a predetermined procedure. As technology advances, much workflow management has become automated and takes advantage of special software to make the process much smoother.

Managing workflow appropriately is an important component of a business for a variety of reasons. The primary advantage to workflow management is improved efficiency within the business. By automating many of the processes within a business and establishing a procedure that is consistently followed, unnecessary steps are eliminated, and every member of the team is fully aware of his or her responsibilities.

This method also makes it easier to track employee and machine performance. When a link in the chain is broken, it is simple to go back and determine where this occurred. In addition, workflow management serves to standardize working methods, ensuring that every employee working on the same level is performing the same function.

It also improves customer service. By providing a consistent product or service that is predictable at every level, workflow management allows the customer to feel completely involved in the entire process and capable of getting answers to important questions in a timely fashion. In turn, this can increase company profits, as happy customers come back for repeat business.

Workflow management also helps businesses find ways to improve their production or service process. By streamlining the responsibilities of each employee and clarifying the roles of every employee and machine within the process, the company can more easily determine where improvements can be made to increase efficiency and to improve the quality of the product or service.

By using specialized workflow software, businesses also enjoy increased flexibility. By tracking processes with software and inputting various alternative scenarios, the company can more easily determine viable options for improvement. In addition, the software can be used to examine one small component of workflow or workflow at the company-wide level. This is particularly helpful to large businesses that may have several plants or offices spread throughout the country or the world.

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Discussion Comments

By anon302067 — On Nov 07, 2012

Can anyone please clarify if workflow is a system, technology, technique or concept, or all of that?

By gray12 — On May 29, 2012

Well, I like what is said about workflow management and have dabbled some using the software.

What is ugly is when the workflow is very bad when others think it is good, and then this becomes automated in the software. In software development, there is something called verification and validation. Before workflows are automated, clients need to verify and validate their own work flow.

One good way to do this is with the use of discrete event simulation followed by comparisons of what are predicted by what is actually achieved. Then, looking at the results using a collaborative team, figure out the work flow that needs to be automated. Then work with the software vendor or expert in the field to come up with the best software solution overlaying the efficient validated work process.

By MCom — On Mar 15, 2010

As a vendor of Workflow Management software, I can say that in this description, you hit most of the high points we see with our customers. However, one point that is often missed is the reduction of errors through efficient workflow management.

A solid workflow management system also includes a real-time project information system, so in the "Who does What, When" model of workflow management, the "What" part is always up to date with the latest data from any part of the organization. (Customer requirement changes, change orders, just about anything, really.) When your workflow system allows you to share one, always-up-to-date view of what needs to be done, there is less opportunity for mistakes arising from outdated specs, etc.

This becomes especially important as efficiency improves, as an efficient workflow can amplify mistakes and the consequences of not communicating updates/changes clearly across the organization.


By anon38735 — On Jul 28, 2009

when a user sends a report by workflow management to another user, the user can only see the report output only once. when he again wants to view the report, it genarates a warning that "authentication denied."

can you help me regarding this problem?

By anon38171 — On Jul 24, 2009

Can you provide me the details on trends in offshore software outsourcing?

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