Goods acceptance, goods entry checks, approval or non-approval, goods receipt posting, goods storage: the term workflow describes repeated work processes that are precisely defined.
You can think of a precisely described workflow as being similar to a recipe for a dish: first you need specific ingredients, followed by various preparatory steps, like washing vegetables or coating meat in breadcrumbs, and in the end, the meal is ready to be served.
Workflow management for a productive future
In the business world, clearly defined workflows have the advantages of advancing productivity by saving time and reducing the risk of errors. At the same time, they can help to rationalise production and provide business partners, as well as customers, with transparent, tested processes.
The way various workflows are administered within a company is described as workflow management, which is closely related to project management. From an IT point of view, a workflow is a fixed chain of conditions and actions. Just like any recipe, each workflow has a clearly defined start, a well-structured middle and a set result.
If workflow management is implemented with the help of specially developed software, this is described as a digital workflow management system. Business process management, BPM for short, is closely related to workflow management.
Whereas workflows and workflow management are targeted at the detailed description of work steps, BPM is more of a collective term for various methods that assist with the strategy, analysis and optimisation of business processes.
Important future trends: robotic process automation and workflow management
In the future, more and more companies will use automated workflows, robotic process automation (RPA for short) and workflow management solutions in parallel. Tasks and work will be performed by robots, bots or humans. However, task assignment and workflows will be managed by a workflow management system.
In this way, people and machines will work together. It is useful when workflow management software has an open API for easy integration with RPA systems, supporting the teamwork between humans and robots or bots. API is the abbreviation for application programming interface. This is a specific part of a program in a software system, to connect and integrate other programs or IT systems.
Four Tips for your workflow management
The following conditions and tips will help you build and use a workflow management system:
- Good, smart workflow management creates the basis for optimal business processes and offers the opportunity to save time and costs.
- Digital know-how and the appropriate tools help firstly to define workflows and then to implement them in your enterprise with the support of workflow management software.
- However, you should keep in mind: if day-to-day work or a project is programmed down to the smallest detail with different activities, people can quickly feel patronised and alienated.
- It is therefore a good idea to involve your team leaders, and potentially also affected employees, in the development, construction and implementation of future-proof workflow management to streamline the processes that are central to your business.