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Workflow Management – Organize workflows effectively

Published: · Last updated: · 11 min reading time

In today’s business world, they are part of everyday work: workflows. In every company, workflows are more or less pronounced, depending on the size of the company. To ensure that the company’s workflows are not unstructured and end in chaos, companies make use of what is known as workflow management. Workflow management is also referred to as business process management. In this article, we show why your company should also use workflow management.

What is a workflow?

A definition of the term workflow precedes a discussion of the meaning of workflow management. The terms business process and workflow are often used in the same context. However, both differ from each other. The workflow goes one step further than the business process, as a workflow is the automated sequence of a business process.

What is a business process?

The business process has two levels:

1) Level of processes.

The process itself is the generic term and in itself includes several sub-processes. Each process has a starting point and an endpoint. At the end of the process, there is a particular result.

2) Activity level 

For a process to function in itself, it requires various actions or activities. Only in this way can the business process be successfully executed and completed.

For example, a business process consists of order entry, production, delivery, and billing. This process is in turn subdivided into sub-processes such as preparation, production, and control. Resources to handle this business process include, for example, activities, personnel, machines, IT, raw materials, etc. At the end of the business process, output comes out.

Definition Workflow

Workflow refers to all operations within a process that must be carried out for the process itself to be completed. In addition, the workflow determines which person has to file an item at which location so that all persons involved in the process have the information they need at any time. All steps and their sequence within the workflow must be defined beforehand. The workflow also takes care that dependencies within the process are defined. This makes it possible to identify and eliminate bottlenecks and errors. The workflow also determines which technical tools are used so that the business process can be carried out successfully.

What are the steps to create a workflow?

The following steps are necessary so that a workflow can be created:

  • The first step is to get an overview of all the processes taking place in the company. If an overview of the processes within the company is not yet available, one must first be sketched and created.
  • The next step deals with modeling the business processes. In doing so, it must be determined which person does what at which point in time in the process.
  • The following examples show business processes for which modeling is necessary:
  • A customer account is opened.
  • A vacant position within the company must be filled.
  • An invoice has to be created and released.
  • An employee’s vacation request must be processed.
  • After the previous step, the next step is to model the workflow. Here, it is determined which technical tools are necessary to execute and realize the business process. Here, the process is broken down into smaller processes until it is possible to automate these processes.
  • The last step contains the final result: the finished workflow. This must now be checked at regular intervals and adapted if necessary.

How can a workflow be represented visually?

Since it is much easier to imagine an abstract system, in this case, a business process, in concrete terms, it is necessary to visualize it with the help of various tools. There are different software for visualizing business processes. These include event-driven process chains (EPC), Unified Modeling Language (UML) programs, and flowcharts.

What does Workflow Management mean?

The workflow or process is controlled from two sides. On the one hand, by the workflow management and on the other hand by the process management. Process management is responsible for the technical or conceptual level. Process Management analyzes the various workflows and ensures that they are constantly improved.

Workflow Management takes care of the operational area. Process Management and Workflow Management go hand in hand. The results of Process Management serve as the basis for Workflow Management. Workflow Management is used to control the work processes. Workflow Management aims to ensure that the workflow functions optimally. All persons involved in the process and the available technical tools are taken into account in Workflow Management. The great challenge of workflow management is thus to optimally integrate all persons involved in the process, most of whom are spatially distant from each other, into the process. The actual procedure is constantly controlled and adapted by workflow management.

What is a Workflow Management System?

A Workflow Management System (WfMS) is a program that supports workflow management and helps to model workflows. The Workflow Management System software consists of different modules or components. Its core component is the modeling of the business processes with the linked organizations. Furthermore, another module is the workflow engine. With it, the expirations of the processes can be steered. The workflow engine also monitors the individual processes. When the processes are finished, the engine starts the next process. The WfMS also monitors the respective processes. This allows the separate processes to be analyzed. The results of the analyses are then incorporated into the overall business process modeling.
Workflow management systems are designed to simplify complex workflows with their processes.

Workflow management in the factory: this is how it works

As industry and its manufacturing plants become increasingly digitalized, the question arises as to how manufacturing companies can benefit from efficient and automated workflows within their manufacturing processes.

With the help of FORCAM and Microsoft, a new era of smart manufacturing is taking off: With over 400 apps from the Microsoft ecosystem – from Microsoft Office to Trello to Salesforce – employees in manufacturing companies can now organize, automate and digitize all of their factory processes. Even more, with Microsoft Power Automate, manufacturing teams can configure automated and event-driven workflows through simple configuration, with no programming required. This is how workflow management works in the 21st century! Whether tool breakage or missing material – teams organize their work in such a way that they can identify and eliminate errors and downtimes in real time and workflows are triggered and executed in a partially or fully automated manner.

Success Story: FORCAM partner increases efficiency and decreases scrap.   Learn How