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Workflow process management is a term used in information technology (IT) and business process management to describe all the steps and infrastructure required to create and operate an electronic workflow process. A workflow process is a series of steps or tasks that must be completed by different areas of the organization. Ideally, this process is accomplished by using computer software tools to increase efficiency, transparency, and turnaround time.
Although the term is quite long, most people are very familiar with the concept of a workflow. A simple example is an expense reimbursement request. The employee who incurred the expense completes a form with all the information he or she has and then submits it to his or her manager. The manager reviews the details, adds additional information, and indicates approval or denial of the request. If the request is approved, it is submitted to the accounts department for processing and payment. If denied, it is returned to the employee, typically with a note of explanation.
Workflow process management refers to the tools and computer software used to create, implement, and support this process. This typically is a combination of hardware, infrastructure, and software. The actual tools and equipment required depend on the size of the organization and the method of delivery. Traditionally, these tools were restricted to specific users, but changes in technology have made it possible to provide workflow tools via the Internet.
The hardware and infrastructure required for workflow process management is primarily dependent upon the software selected. An Internet-based tool will require installation on a Web server, access to the Internet, storage capacity, and security. The amount of hardware required usually depends on the number of users, volume of transactions, and system availability.
There are a wide range of workflow process management software tools available, as this is a well-known product category. A vast majority of businesses usually can save time and money using electronic workflow. Additional benefits include improved transparency and reporting capacity, as well as accountability for all participants in the process.
When selecting a workflow process management solution, it usually is important to remember that skilled staff will be required to implement and support this solution. Required skills include business analysis, project management, software support, and administration. It can be important to take the time to review the product specifications in detail to ensure a full understanding of the project requirements. A cost and benefit analysis is another way to ensure that all layers of the organization are committed to the project before it begins.