Workflow is a technology that allows you to automate processes, rationalizing them and powering them through two implied components: organization and technology. That is the basic workflow definition.
The workflow technology was developed to minimize the problems when coordinating the joint work, bearing in mind that the main issues related to the business processes are the lack of clarity about the definition of activities, the difficulty in coordinate people at the same time and the shortage of visibility of processes.
A second known workflow definition that is widely used among technology professionals is the WfMC – Workflow Management Coalition. It says that Workflow is the automation of a business process, entirely or partial, during which the documents or activities are handed from participant to another, with a purpose to take actions, according to a set of rules and procedures.
A workflow defines the order of execution and the conditions through which the tasks are initiated. An activity can be executed by one or more computing systems, by one or more human agents, or even by a combination of both.
According to the workflow definition, its objectives are:
- To simplify, expedite and make the communication safer;
- Improve the cooperative creation of the work products (documents, specifications, projects and code);
- Perform a more effective labor division, as well as an opportune contribution to its process;
- Warn group members about the happening of significant events or changes;
- Better the decision-making process. See on the video below an example of it:
3 workflow definition types
- Ad hoc Workflow: in which the procedure’s rules can be modified or created during the process operation.
- Production Workflow: in which the majority of procedure’s rules is already defined.
- Administrative Workflow: the middle way between the first two. Involves mildly structured, repeated and predictable activities, with simple rules of task coordination.
BPM definition and Workflow definition – are they the same?
It is clear that Workflow and BPM have a lot in common. They both achieve substantially the same goals: model, automate, monitor and analyze the processes performance, connecting people and systems. This not means, though, that they are identical.
The key point when comparing Workflow and BPM it is not what they do, but how they do it. The purposes and possibilities of these technologies are similar, but the real difference lays on how such purposes and possibilities are achieved.
In a general way, the BPM technology has a wider approach and field of action. It allows more flexibility and sophistication in the process management solutions, speeding up the development, reducing the maintaining effort and preserving the investment in a long term way. To profoundly understand the difference, see BPM definition x workflow definition.
See some of the benefits BPM technology will bring into your company:
- Transparency in all the process stages – with a delivery company, for example, it is crucial that all the steps are clear for the staff and the clients, that can follow everything and thus build a relationship of trust with the organization.
- Higher administrative control – control is an important concept for companies. Administrative control, though, is the more efficient kind, since it provides the company with tools to know all the expenditures, predict costs and allocate well the resources.
- Productivity increase – with the process optimization and automation, the company, can increase up to 50% percent in productivity, in a few months.
- Cost reduction – centralize the needs of the departments and organize all the teams will result in a significant drop in costs for your company.
- Processes automation and evidences – with the automation of processes the standardization becomes a rule in an organization. It brings many benefits, among them the generation of reliable and complete reports and evidences, that are used to improve even more the activities.