Maximizing productivity with workflow management
Discover the benefits of workflow management and how to choose the right system for your business. Learn how to streamline your work processes, reduce errors, and increase efficiency with expert tips and insights.
Workflows help you get work done by completing a sequence of tasks. Moreover, they’re how you get repetitive tasks done repeatedly. If designed well, workflows can save you and your company time and money.
For the most part, workflows are helpful until they become unruly and take more work than they free up. In this case, implementing a workflow management system is helpful if they become unmanageable.
But what exactly is workflow management?
What is workflow management?
Workflow management controls and coordinates many business processes within a system; it helps companies achieve repeatable goals. Likewise, a workflow is a set of steps your team members go through to complete a specific business goal—repetitive processes regularly. In other words, workflow management is business process automation.
Workflow management vs. project management
Workflow and project management systems share some similarities. For example, they both coordinate completing tasks to achieve goals. However, they differ in the type of goals they attempt to achieve, who completes the specific task, and how tasks are measured.
The lists below compare how workflows and projects relate and contrast.
Why use workflow management software?
Managing a workflow through email or another manual method can leave a team needing clarification about the status of the workflow. In particular, you might recognize these common questions asked during a manual workflow process:
- Who has completed which task?
- Where are we in the workflow, and where’s the document?
- What’s next?
Losing track of the process and missing deadlines leads to losing productivity. But it’s not the team’s fault. The real culprit is the lack of an efficient workflow management system.
It’s one thing to create a policy. It’s another thing for your employees to accept it. For instance, HR teams should work with IT to maintain visibility into the adoption of SaaS adoption. Using automated processes to track SaaS adoption, changes, and high-risk usage will make it easy to identify breaches.
What is a workflow management system?
A workflow management system (WfMS) is a software tool that allows an organization to document its processes, standardize them, and store them in a central location. This optimization allows all stakeholders to access, arrange, control, and track workflows as a team.
Therefore, the process reduces the need for asking fact-finding questions that the system can answer. In other words, no more losing track of email threads.
Another benefit to a WfMS is that it can automate tasks not requiring a human hand. For example, suppose the workflow awaits someone to complete a pending assignment. The tool uses workflow notifications to remind the assignee about the task if they forget and don’t complete it by the due date and time.
WfMS is also known as business process management (BPM). BPM denotes many workflows and processes, supporting the entire business process development cycle.
Workflow management systems can make three different workflows:
- First, sequential workflow: Linear like a flow chart, this workflow moves step by step and never backward.
- State workflow: This workflow might move backward but only for a dependent reason, switching “states” in the process.
- Rules-driven workflow: Non-linear in form; this workflow uses rules or conditions to determine the progression, using expressions such as if, then, or else.
How to choose a workflow management system
Not all workflow management software solutions are alike. So before you choose a WfMS, first conduct internal research. In other words, ask these questions about your company’s needs:
- What does your company need in a workflow solution?
- Are there features your company can’t do without?
- How many users will the WfMS serve?
- How quickly do you need the WfMS?
- Will your company need additional IT support for the WfMS?
About workflow management system features
While asking the previous questions will help you understand your company’s needs, the following will help you choose the right tool and vendor. A proper WfMS will offer the following features:
An easy-to-use interface
The tool should be simple and user-friendly and empower you to design, manage, and track workflows with no-code, drag-and-drop ease.
Cloud app integration
The WfMS should be cloud-based and connect with other cloud apps like CRM, ERP, and HRIS. Integration ensures your workflows accomplish any task on any tool in any cloud.
Key-performance indicator (KPI)-based reporting will take productivity and efficiency to another level using metrics. So choose a WfMS that helps you evaluate your methodologies, measuring and monitoring your KPIs to find and eliminate bottlenecks.
No WfMS is worth it's salt if it can’t automate processes, from automated workflows to automated routing. It should also automate workflows and tasks that don’t need human intervention, like financial reports and approval workflows.
Notification automation and management
One of the better benefits of automation is notification automation, and the WfMS should automate all notifications.
Workflows without dependencies should have the ability to create tasks that happen simultaneously. This ability is called parallel task branching.
Access control management
A WfMS should allow you to grant access and access levels to your team. And as such, access control management should allow you to customize each user’s view and permission level. This way, you share information with only the right people.
Choose a WfMS tool and vendor with transparent and flexible pricing models. Whether it’s a monthly pay-as-you-go on a per-user basis or a flat fee, make sure it meets your company’s needs.
How Vendr can help manage your procurement workflows
Take your team's workflow management to the next level with Vendr's powerful procurement solution, Workflows. Say goodbye to frustration and hello to coordinated approvals and centralized conversation, status, and decision-making. With quick access to essential information and expert SaaS consultants ready to negotiate alongside you, Vendr Workflows streamlines the procurement process for excellent outcomes.